Arsenal's rout of Chelsea has lifted the cloud hanging over the club following their humiliation at Old Trafford earlier this season and proved to the players that they have the quality to overcome any side in the Premier League, according to manager Arsène Wenger.
As well as that 8-2 dismantling at Manchester United, Arsenal had lost to Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool this season as Wenger's side, having lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri after a turbulent summer and struggling to incorporate the nine players signed in their stead, ceded ground to their rivals for a Champions League spot.
The Frenchman acknowledges that those failures had caused his players to question whether they had the ability to match the league's other superpowers but feels a huge psychological weight has been lifted by the 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
"There was an uncertainty in the team's heads about whether they could win a big game," Wenger said. "It was the first big win for the new signings [since they arrived].
"It was a massive test for us, first in terms of quality, to see if we could compete quality-wise with a top team, because nobody knew before the game. I do not want to say I know more than other people, but I knew we had the potential to do well. But I am not the only one with an influence on the team. The environment does, too: if you read every day that you are bad, at the end of the week you will start to believe it.
"It was also important for us to see if we were capable of playing well and winning, and we did. What was at stake for us is how big our ambitions can be. We are a new team, but the game on Saturday has played a positive part [in determining that]. We have shown we can have a good performance against a good team."
The result prompted delirious celebrations from Wenger's players, with Wojciech Szczesny and Theo Walcott performing press-ups in front of the away section – as if to suggest they had abundant energy in reserve despite the challenge presented by one of their most powerful foes – as their team-mates danced delightedly.
Most managers would caution against such scenes, fearing the possibility that their players might fall into the trap of believing they have achieved all they need to achieve, but Wenger insists "communicating" their happiness at a hard-earned victory to the club's fans was crucial after a difficult start to the campaign.
His confidence is helped, though, by the fact that this side – thanks to the arrivals of Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos and Mikel Arteta – boasts more experience than previous incarnations. "There is a need for us to communicate with our fans again and that was a good chance," he said. "We wanted to do that. After that, we have won nothing. We must just use it as a springboard to go further. The players know that. We have more experience than we have had in the last five or six years. The players know."
Carl Jenkinson v Andre Ayew
Marseilles' player of the year will hope to trouble rookie Jenkinson more than he did two weeks ago.
Andre Santos v Mathieu Valbuena
Valbuena is the creative hub of the Marseilles team and will seek to exploit Santos' defensive weakness.
Robin van Persie v Souleymane Diawara
Van Persie has been in irrepressible form and the former Charlton player faces a task keeping him quiet.Reuse content