• Dutchman revels in leadership role as Arsenal find their feet
• 'I feel I can score every time I go out on to the pitch'
Robin van Persie claimed Arsenal had "set a standard" they must now emulate over the rest of the season after his hat-trick deflated Chelsea and served notice that form and belief have been fully restored to the north Londoners' ranks after a troubled start to the campaign.
Arsenal have now won eight of their past nine matches in all competitions to creep up the Premier League table to the fringe of the European qualification places and to suggest a side hastily rejigged on the eve of the transfer deadline is finally finding its rhythm. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey were outstanding on Saturday, with Laurent Koscielny impressive at the heart of the defence even on a chaotic afternoon, though it is increasingly Van Persie who is assuming talismanic status at the club.
The Dutchman took his goal tally to 28 in 27 Premier League matches this calendar year with his hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, and the Arsenal captain is propelled by confidence these days. "I feel I can score every time I go out on to the pitch," he said. "For me, personally, it's just the best feeling to have. It doesn't really matter against who we play: we always create chances so that means I always have a go. Then it's up to me to score. I will miss chances but I will score them too. To have this feeling is one of the best things in life.
"We have been having a good run for almost two months now. A bit quiet – not many people have noticed it – but we have won eight out of nine and to win this one at Chelsea sets a standard. To score five here is a big achievement, particularly as we had to come back from behind twice. We showed character and to score this many times at one of the hardest grounds in football to visit is a big thing. Everyone realises now we can do it against any team, so everyone is just pleased and happy."
Van Persie is thriving as this team's captain, with the younger players now looking to him to inspire since the departures of Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri. Asked what has conjured a goalscoring sequence this impressive from the forward, Arsène Wenger said: "Calm, experience and, above all, top quality. Maybe he is at the right age as well because, at 28, you analyse quickly the weaknesses of the defence around you and take advantage. But he has exceptional class, and the intelligence of his movement means that he takes advantage of every situation. The captaincy, too, has contributed. People keep telling me he is not a 'centre‑forward'. So how many goals does a centre-forward need to score? He's a different kind of centre-forward but he is a centre-forward."
There were other causes to be encouraged by this display – even if Arsenal's defence remains a work in progress. Ramsey's influence grows by the game and Walcott was outstanding against his England team-mate Ashley Cole. "Theo has been struggling because we make him work very hard but he has become a more complete player today," said Wenger. "He is not a liability any more, defensively. He does his defensive job. At the start that makes you heavy-legged when you win the ball back, and he went through a period when he was working so hard defensively he did not have the resorurces to go forward, but now he has got used to it.
"The players now think we have turned a corner but, if you think what we went through at the start of the season, it is also reassuring for me. We have suffered but the belief is back and the spirit in the team is strong. You feel that in the dressing room, that the players are determined and together. A game like that encourages us to realise we have the quality."