When Arsenal last won the Premier League, I was three years old.

When they last reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, I was eight.

Bukayo Saka was two when Arsenal last won the Premier League, Kai Havertz was four, Martin Odegaard, five, William Saliba, four. Ethan Nwaneri, who made his Premier League debut last season, wouldn’t be born for another three years.

For all of Arsenal’s players and a sizable chunk of fans, heading into April still in contention for both the Premier League and the Champions League is an entirely new feeling.

In 2009/10, Arsenal made the quarter-finals of the Champions League and were in contention for the league title with 10 games remaining. 14 years later marks the first time since that Arsenal find themselves in a similar position. For many fans, it is the first time they will experience such a run-in.

That season ended poorly. Arsenal were crushed by Barcelona at the Camp Nou by a quadruple of goals scored by a certain Lionel Messi. Their Premier League campaign ended in a similar style to last season, with just one win in their last five games including an inexplicable loss away to Wigan, a game Arsenal had been 0-2 up in.

The squad bore a likeness to the Arsenal of today. Full of incredibly exciting and impressive young players. Today’s squad is defined by a key difference, however. Ruggedness and physicality. Arsenal’s 09/10 squad was absolutely decimated by injuries throughout the season. They were a team of relatively small, tricky players and the tough tackling sides of the Premier League made them suffer for it.

The most notorious example coming at the bet365 Stadium (then the Britannia) where exciting young player Aaron Ramsey’s leg was broken by a horror tackle by Ryan Shawcross. The defender was sent off but the challenge was emblematic of the attitude towards Arsenal’s talented players. If you can’t get the ball from them, you hurt them.

The season before, Eduardo’s leg had been broken in a match against Birmingham City, a challenge that ultimately ruined the promising career of an extremely talented striker. A couple of years ago, a similar fate had met Abou Diaby, a player described as “the closest to Patrick Vieira we have seen here”, by Arsene Wenger. The French midfielder was on the end of a nasty tackle which left his career at risk and would cause him permanent problems throughout his career. A tackle made in the 90th minute of a game Arsenal led 0-3.

Mikel Arteta would arrive at Arsenal at the start of the 2011/12 season and 13 years later, in which he played five years for Arsenal, retired, and returned as manager, he has created a squad that don’t face the same issues. Football has certainly changed in that time and the fierce tackles that were seen every week are far rarer, with VAR (for all its faults) ensuring they are punished.

Arsenal are no longer viewed in the same way also. The talented, artful players are still there in players such as Odegaard, Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who take their fair share of kicks, but they are rugged and surrounded by a team of giants. William Saliba, Gabriel, Jakub Kiwior, Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Ben White create an air of intimidation among their opponents as they boast tall frames and burly figures.

Arteta has targeted physicality as a key asset in his team, much alike to the monstrous teams of early Wenger and George Graham featuring aggressive, dominant players such as Tony Adams and Vieira.

That physicality, combined with immense tactical know-how, has allowed Arsenal to squeeze and constrict almost all of their opponents this season.

It will be a crucial component if Arsenal are to experience success at the end of the run-in. The first test comes on Sunday, against arguably the most physically dominant team in the world.

Manchester City, led by Pep Guardiola, have crafted a team exploding in physicality and technical ability. Their key advantage comes in experience. Guardiola’s team have won four of the last five Premier League trophies and are looking to make it three in a row this season. They could also stand in the way of a potential Champions League final too, should both English clubs progress in the quarter-finals.

The last four years under Arteta have been spent building up for a run-in like this, which hopefully ends in a first Premier League title in 20 years, a first-ever Champions League or, in a dream-world, both.

Plenty of Arsenal fans will be looking at their first-ever experience of a proper run-in with a mix of excitement and fear. My advice? Enjoy it. We’re here.