Hector Bellerin admits that Arsenal’s slow start to the 2017-18 season sowed seeds of doubt within Arsene Wenger’s squad.
Having opened with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Leicester, the Gunners then stumbled into the international break on the back of a narrow defeat at Stoke and a 4-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool.
Questions were once again being asked of the club’s top-four credentials at that stage, but a positive response has been offered with convincing victories over Bournemouth and Koln in Premier League and Europa League competition.
Bellerin says belief has been returned to the Gunners ranks, just in time for them to take in a crunch derby clash with London rivals Chelsea.
The Spain international defender told Arsenal Player: “After the four games that we’ve played, there’s been a lot of doubts in the team and I think it’s a game where we can put those things to bed.
“We’re playing Chelsea and we’ve beaten them three times in the last four games, so we have a good record against them, but we know it’s always different playing at Stamford Bridge. They won the league last year so we obviously know they are a very strong team.
“With [Antonio] Conte there, they work really hard, they do very well tactically, so we have to be ready for the challenge and we know as a team we can beat them because we’ve done it before. Now it’s up to us to turn up and do things right.
“We’ve come [into this game] from beating Bournemouth with a very good team performance, especially defensively, which is what was lacking in the last two games. The team was really solid at the back, but the good thing was that from the striker to the goalkeeper, everyone was running in the same direction.
“That was missing from the last few games. We just need to play in the same way we’ve played before against Chelsea, in the FA Cup or in the Community Shield. We know that the team’s really strong, but we know that when we play 100 per cent and everyone turns up, we know we can beat them.”
Arsenal edged out Chelsea in the 2017 FA Cup final, before repeating the trick at Wembley in the Community Shield as they prevailed in a penalty shoot-out over the 10-man Blues.