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Arsenal are making me feel like an 11-year-old fan all over again

Updated: Jan 18

It's the hope that kills you, right?

Isn't it ironic how the better Arsenal are, the more stressed I feel? All these years of pain, yearning for a team to dine at the top table and mount a genuine challenge for the league title - and here I am, complaining.

Of course, I'm being slightly facetious about the complaining part, but I will admit it, being a fan of a good team is hard work. We'd almost forgotten what this felt like and it certainly takes a toll on your blood pressure. It was almost easier to cope when we were bad.

Let's get one thing straight, though - it's the perfect dichotomy. And one that every football fan dreams of. Just to make it clear, I only feel so anxious because I am genuinely so excited and in awe of what this team is producing, that the thought of not being at a victory parade on Avenell Road in May 2023 hurts.

Never have I felt more sick or nervous as I did for Sunday's north London derby. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I was a complete nightmare to be around.

It's in moments like those that I was asking myself why we put ourselves through such emotional turmoil. 'I really wish I didn't like football,' I muttered to myself over and over again, as my partner looks at me and questions why she's with a deranged maniac.

But then the feeling of pure jubilation and joy as Martin Ødegaard fizzes a Fabregas-at-the-San-Siro-esque strike into the bottom corner reminds us all why we love it so much. This 2-0 victory felt so sweet.

It's kind of funny, because I've tried to convince myself so many times - over the last five or six years in particular - that Arsenal isn't as important to me as it once was. But never has the old Godfather cliché been more apt. 'Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.'

Do I think we will win the league? I'm really not sure. There are so many reasons you could point to as why the answer is probably 'no'. The lack of depth in the squad being the most obvious. We ideally need a versatile forward player and backup to Thomas Partey in this January transfer window.

There is also the argument of knowhow and dealing with the intense pressure when push comes to shove in March, April and May. How will our young squad cope? Will they burnout? Will City string together one of their ridiculous 13-game winning streaks? Will the other teams be good enough to work us out and stop us in the second half of the season?

I am hoping and praying with every power of my being that the answer to all those questions is no. We may be stressed every weekend, but now I want to be stressed every weekend for the next four months, because if I'm not, it probably means our hopes and dreams have been shattered.

Whatever happens this season, it has been incredible. I haven't seen an Arsenal team as good as this since the Invincibles were dismantled in 2005.

I still remember my dad turning to me at Highbury after we beat Leicester 2-1 on the final day of the 2003/04 season and saying to my 11-year-old self: 'You'll never see this again.' I'm pretty sure he was referring to the fact a football team had gone an entire Premier League season unbeaten and not suggesting Arsenal wouldn't win another title.

But we haven't tasted that glory since, and how it would feel so magical to lift that trophy again - especially in an era dominated by Manchester City and their riches. What am I really trying to say? Well, Arsenal have made me feel like that excitable 11-year-old fan all over again, and it's amazing.

It took me a while to want to acknowledge that we are in the title race this season, but now I am firmly buckled in with multiple belts and ready for the rest of this rollercoaster journey.

Please, Arsenal, let's keep it going.

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