It's official. We have to start taking Arsenal seriously. They are five points clear. If you changed their name to Manchester United then stubbly Robbie Savage would be saying in that dentist's drill of a drawl of his that 'the title's over'. He is prone to generalisation that lad.
Still, the Gunners saw off Liverpool more than handsomely. 8 wins out of 9 looks a good return to me. And yet, and yet....
I don't know any Gooner who is getting ahead of himself right now. If they only looked at he bare facts they'd be hoovering out the trophy cabinet for Monsieur Wenger right now, particularly as they're going to need a good six months to get shot of all that dust.
1. No team passes the ball quite so well at the moment.
(Apart from Man City, sometimes. Mind you Norwich stood so far off them that Yaya Toure had time to pop in to the dressing-room, have a jimmy riddle, get back on the pitch and still find himself in possession of the ball.) Wenger has so many midfielders that Arsenal sometimes play a 1-8-1 formation. And Ozil's languid ease seems to have rubbed off on the rest of them. It is a joy to behold.
2. They've learnt how to tackle.
Or at least remembered how to. All them tippy-tappy boys, robust as thistle-seeds in a hurricane, have suddenly discovered how physical strength and commitment can help them regain possession. The fancy Dans become honest johns when they haven't got the ball. Even without Flamini, Arteta filled the gap admirably.
3. Giroud? Who knew?
Seasoned Wenger watchers will realise that Arsene doesn't have the greatest record when seeking out a top centre-forward. Anyone who's watched Chamakh's scruffy gel-plastered get nowhere near cross after cross would know what I mean. Giroud's link-up play has been delicate and smart and his finishing, while not always cold-eyed, hasn't been too shoddy either. It's impossible to overstate his importance to the team at the moment, especially when you look to the bench.
In the League Cup against Chelsea, Bendtner started in Giroud's stead which on current performance is like wheeling your Aston Martin into the garage and then appearing out of the side-door on a squeaky tricycle.
4. Ramsey revives
I can only imagine that some well-meaning mystic laid hands upon Aaron Ramsey in the summer. The signing of Ozil made him look like the first man off the overcrowded midfield boat and yet right now he must be the first name on the team-sheet. He seems possessed of Ozil's time on the ball, Cazorla's quick feet, Wilshere's drive.... Last season he was bog-standard, but that seems light years ago. It's a bit like trying to remember when Gareth Bale was a shit left-back. And after that hideous leg-break you can't help but be happy for the lad.
5. A Solid Defence
Whenever Arsenal have a run of clean sheets we have to blame Steve Bould. Dependency at the back has always had more to do with the nous of the personnel there than anything Wenger has done. At present they look solid as a rock there even though Mertesacker resembles a spooky family butler, and Koscielny spends every game struggling to contain his inner ninja.
When you add in an injury list which means that Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Podolski are on their way back, and the likes of Rosicky and Gnabry are playing very well too it would all suggest that come May Arsene's going to be trotting up the Holloway Road while Gooners everywhere wave their palm fronds and sing hosannas.
Except... except... Arsenal have very little depth in key places. Only Vermaelen can cover the centre-backs and he's not as trusty as we once thought. As noted the options at centre-forward are frankly bleak. When you compare this to Chelsea or Man City you see how fragile this situation makes them.
In other words, injuries will make or break Arsenal's season. As witnessed by the absence of Walcott and Ox-lax-Chumber-Pan, the midfield is crisper and healthier than a yogi's salad. It's just everywhere else where it's as thin as a newspaper editor's excuse.
Of the others, Liverpool still look overly-reliant on two brilliant but erratic forwards (in Luis's case it's the personality not the play that is unpredictable).
Spurs get duller and duller - much like last year but without the simian wonderboy to - ahem - Bale them out. Everton will be plucky and persistent but won't scare too many and Pochettino's stylists at St. Mary's should hang on to 7th. United - remember them? - are looking a bit more stable but you've still got to reckon that there's not enough in the centre of the park to hurt the opposition there.
So... at the risk of echoing Kevin Keegan - and no sane man would want to do that - I'd love it if Arsenal could fight off the wealth-sodden pack.
Don't get me wrong, anyone who's paid for an Emirates season ticket can vouch for the enormous sums that Wenger has at his disposal. And Mehzut Ozil cost £1,999.999.99 more than they would've paid for Luis Suarez. That's not peanuts.
It's just that I can't help but admire a bloke who puts principle first, even if that does mean his team comes up short season after season. The team ethic is still there. The Wenger Vay. And with a bit more backbone in place this season... well...Yes!
They CAN do it! In fact I think they might even finish ABOVE third place.