Victories over Liverpool, that shower from down the Seven Sisters and now Chelsea at Stamford Bridge have forced the hand of experts and pundits – and even our own fans.

Arsenal celebrate their 1-0 win over Chelsea at The Bridge

We have to admit that we are the main challengers to the oil-fuelled juggernaut that is Manchester City.

As I write, we are two points clear at the summit of the PL. This is after a third of the Premier League games have been played. It constitutes the best start to a top-flight campaign that we have ever enjoyed.

Our goal difference is the second best in the table. In defence, we have arguably the most stable central defensive partnership in William Saliba and Gabriel. At full-back, we have options for more fluidity – Tierney, Tomiyasu – or for more solidity – Zinchenko, White or Tomi at LB.

In midfield, we have willing, evergreen runners in Xhaka and Partey, with Odegaard putting in the yards to make our opposition’s lives a misery. And when our press yields a result? We flick a switch and our attack makes defences dizzy.

Martinelli and Saka have the effervescence of youth and stamina to burn. Jesus may not be hitting the net, but his support play is unparalleled. And with Odegaard and Xhaka laying chances on a plate, it’s easy to see why we are where we are.

And the hardest part for most of us is recognizing we are bona fide challengers.

Most of us have been there before, the disappointment of season after season of underwhelming campaigns bleeding into our optimism.

But it’s undeniable now.

The strength of the squad, matched with the results against the big rivals, paints a picture. One that shows Arsenal deservedly have earned the title of ‘contenders.’

So, let’s face this prospect head on.

What needs to happen for the most unlikely of triumphs?

Here’s three things that the season must manifest in order for us to win our first title since 2004.

1 – Haaland injury curse

The man is a machine. When he plays, he scores. And while Manchester City have shown they can win when he doesn’t play, they will struggle far more when he doesn’t play. Just look at their recent win over Fulham – they were dropping points until the big Norwegian came on.

Without the prolific striker, City will have more games where they will struggle to break down teams. And the tougher they have it, the better it is for us.

2 – The coveted Champions League

Pep wants that CL crown. The Mubarak family want it too. For all their investment, they still haven’t won it. And it’s absence is a shadow that only grows larger with each season.

With Juve, Barca and Atletico all out, it leaves their French counterparts (PSG) and German giants Bayern as the only conceivable opponents who could deny City. With Real Madrid in transition, this season could be City’s best opportunity. And as the season goes on, the inevitable fixture congestion will mean rotation and a few games where Pep’s eye will be drawn to midweek, rather than the PL.

3 – Partey stays fit

There is no other player in our team who provides so much contrast, when it comes to their absence. To put it plainly, when Partey plays, so do we. When he isn’t fit, our eleven is easier to get at.

Partey provides that shield in front of the back four. The Ghanaian offers transition from pressure to attack. But his injury record is woeful of late. If we are to continue our assault on the Premier League, Thomas needs to play every game. So that means the FA Cup and Carabao Cup may well need to be games where he’s left out.

What do you think – can we do it? What do you think needs to line up in order for us to win the title?