I'm grappling with a strange new feeling. A feeling have not felt since ... that time I was in the presence of another old master. I haven't decided if that old master is Ancelotti, Hiddink, or Mourinho the First, but the strange disturbance in the force, the one feeling that has permeated and dominated my Sunday is Confidence. That's Confidence, with a capital C.
I'm a little bit scared of this capital C word. It opens me up to a world of hurt, a world that I like to normally shutter away behind masochistic expectations and general cynicism. But after yesterday's victory, all I can think about is winning the title one year ahead of schedule. Next year is supposed to be the year, right José? Next year is the year, the year for which we're laying the foundations this year. I was ok with that plan, but now I'm Confident of more. So Confident in fact, that were we to beat Manchester City away at the Etihad in a fortnight*, I'd be expecting nothing less than the title.
* I don't have a font size large enough for an appropriately big enough proverbial 'BIG IF' on that, but know that it's there.
I can't call that match a title-decider without looking increasingly silly - although I did just make that the pink elephant in the room - but it is the hardest league match we have left this season. True, that was the hardest match left at the beginning of the season as well, but now we're down to just three title contenders.
Three contenders that do not include either Manchester United or Liverpool.
"[The gap for Manchester United] is 14 for Arsenal, but also 13 for City and 12 to us, so maybe one team might collapse, but for all three teams to collapse to do that and lose so many points, I think is difficult."
"[This win] is three important points for us because it now opens a gap between us and Man United and Liverpool and we are still in contact with Arsenal and Manchester City."
Here they are, these contenders three, in all their glorious form:
Even if Everton win tomorrow, Chelsea would have a five-point lead on the chasing pack. Five points (or six points if WBA nick points off Lukaku & Co) isn't all that much, but that's where Confidence comes into play. Here are the teams other than Manchester City whom we have left on our Premier League travels: West Brom, Fulham, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Swansea City, Liverpool, Cardiff City. That's at least 18 points; 21 depending on which aspect of Liverpool's schizophrenia we'd get to face.
Isn't Confidence wonderful? BRING IT!