Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois: We go into Arsenal game with a good feeling

Thibaut Courtois says Chelsea are in buoyant mood ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

A month on from the Premier League opening loss to Burnley and talk of a crisis, Chelsea equalled their record Champions League group-stage win with Tuesday night's 6-0 defeat of Azerbaijan's Qarabag.

The Blues have two additional days' rest due to Arsenal's involvement in the Europa League against Cologne on Thursday night.

And Courtois says Chelsea, after four straight wins, are in a good frame of mind ahead of the third of seven September fixtures.

"It is good to face Arsenal now," Courtois said.

"Everybody is healthy and things are going well. We won at Leicester, won comfortably (on Tuesday night) and will go into the Arsenal game with a good feeling.

"We are doing well. After the bad first half against Burnley, I think all our performances have been good. We have shown good spirit, good football and good wins most importantly of all."

Matches against Arsene Wenger's men shaped Chelsea's season somewhat last term.

A 3-0 loss at Arsenal in September 2016, in the sixth Premier League match of Antonio Conte's reign as head coach, brought a change in tactics and a 3-4-3 formation which prompted a 13-game winning run.

February's win over the Gunners, featuring Eden Hazard's stunning solo goal, strengthened Chelsea's place at the summit.

But then Wenger's men prevented Conte from sealing the double in his first season as Arsenal won the FA Cup final.

"Do we feel like we are in a good place? Yes," Courtois added.

"Sometimes it is good to face a big team early. Last year it didn't work out against Liverpool and Arsenal, but this season we have already won at Tottenham.

"Arsenal had a few bad matches, but won comfortably (against Bournemouth) last weekend.

"For us and for them it's a big game because we are third in the table.

"Obviously we want to close the gap (to Manchester United and Manchester City) and take points off Arsenal as well."

Chelsea captain Gary Cahill played for the first time in a month in the Qarabag win following his dismissal against Burnley.

Cahill, who will be available after his three-match domestic ban against Arsenal, told Chelsea TV: "It's about building the momentum. Last season we were successful because we had that momentum going.

"Winning games is the best feeling ever. We've managed to do that the last four games and now we're heading into a big game. Everyone's ready to go."

Chelsea's 6-0 win over Qarabag saw them equal their record margin of victory, from October 2014 against Maribor of Slovenia, but sterner tests await.

Next the Blues go to Atletico Madrid, where Courtois spent three seasons on loan, with the Diego Costa saga ongoing. That fixture is followed by a double header with Roma, who drew 0-0 at home to Atletico on Tuesday night.

"We knew Roma and Atletico were playing each other, so we knew our first game at home had to be a win. To win 6-0 is even better," Courtois added.

"That doesn't mean we should be too confident right now. We have to stay focused and I hope we have a good victory against Arsenal."

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