Up until now there has been much posturing between various members of the three emergent challengers for the Premier League title as to whom the underdogs are and who the favourite is.
Acknowledging the championship is one's own to lose appears to have been a statement too cumbersome to publicly mutter while there is an element of security in claiming you are far from the favourite as it eases off the pressure.
The pressure, though, is what true champions thrive on and, to date, there has only really been one voice brave enough to take the initiative as, after Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho deflected attention away from his Blues and as Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo insisted it is not his side who are favourites, but Arsenal, left back Kieran Gibbs spoke up…
'There are 14 games left and when you get to this stage it is about being consistent and whoever can perform the best will obviously win the trophy,' said the Englishman, as quoted by Sky Sports. 'It is February and we are top of the league so you have to have some kind of confidence to think you can win the league,' he added.
'That is the way we want to look at it. We have stayed top of the league for a significant part of the season and we are enjoying being top of the league. Going in as the underdogs takes the pressure off, but we are not looking at the odds of winning the Premier League. We just want to win the Premier League!'
Arsenal have accumulated 55 points from 24 Premier League match-days, winning 17 times, drawing four and losing just thrice. Their stringency in defence is also underlined by their mere 21 concessions, six of which all arrived one one day, versus City, who, like Chelsea, have picked up 53 points.
However, while the Gunners have a two-point cushion over a City and Chelsea side in close pursuit, Arsenal are presented with a gauntlet run of upcoming fixtures that includes, over the next two months, entertaining City at the Emirates Stadium at the end of March, traveling to Chelsea the week before, taking on Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane, welcoming Manchester United to North London next week but, first, taking on Liverpool at Anfield.
On the prospect of leaving Merseyside with a victory on Saturday, February 8, Gibbs said: 'It would make a big statement if we won there - just like it did when we played Liverpool at home [and won 2-0]. We have got a lot of big games coming up, so it will be another test.
'As the weeks go on, we are just going to be put under a bigger and bigger test. It is not often you get to play Manchester United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich, twice, in less than two weeks. So it will be great to be a part of it - playing against the best teams in the world.'
Arsenal are talking the talk and, in less than 48 hours, we will find out whether they can walk the walk.
image: © Ronnie Macdonal