Still some optimists out there
I posted a poll on here a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to gauge some reaction to how the new squad had apparently turned things around. The results of the poll can be found on the right of this page.
Following the Blackburn game I wrote a post in which I stated my belief that Arsenal were in a relegation battle. I was far from the only person to have been at Ewood Park that day and felt the same thing. We were so bad that there seemed no hope of pushing towards the upper echelons of the Premier League this season. Since then the players have been excellent. They eked out results to begin with, starting from scratch. As the weeks and matches have passed the good football has returned and, when we attack with pace (rather than the constant back and forward across the pitch) Arsenal are as good as just about anybody.
The poll asked where, due to the recent form, people thought we might end up. There were six options - Champions, Runners-up, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Top-half or Bottom-half. Given the form of the team it doesn't surprise me that there is a new found confidence that the Club will consolidate its position this season and finish in the top four. In the poll most of the votes cast (163 of them) have Arsenal securing their place in the elite once more come May. Obviously this is not enough for Arsenal supporters in the grand scheme of things but, given the start the team made this season, top four would now be an achievement for once. I believe it is fair to say that the Runners-up position is not actually out of the question, and 35 of the 260 who responded felt that way. I will choose to ignore the 2 mischievous voters who still think we will finish below tenth.
The thing that amazed me was that 20 people who took the time to vote still believe that Arsenal will be Champions this season. Don't get me wrong, I love an optimist. But Champions? I would love to be proved wrong, but somehow I fear the Premier League Title will not reside at Arsenal next Summer. I suppose you have to admire those that would cling to such hopes.
Wherever Arsenal do end up I can honestly say that I did not expect to be sitting here on December 1st and thinking that we could challenge for the top two. I do believe a trophy is now possible this season, though it will almost certainly have to be the FA Cup (the draw for the Carling Cup semi-final makes narrow defeat on Tuesday all the more frustrating). More than anything I am happy that the relegation battle I feared as I left Blackburn is now a distant memory.