For a team who, as recently as seven weeks ago, were being widely written off by everyone - including many of their fans - Arsenal seem to be in pretty good health at the moment.
As recently as March 1st, Arsenal were five minutes away from falling eight points behind Aston Villa in the chase for a top four spot (before Stoke scored two late, late goals to snatch an unlikely draw). Today they stand eight points clear in fourth, too far back to realistically mount a late title challenge, but nonetheless beyond fans' wildest dreams those few weeks ago. An 18-match unbeaten league run is testament to how difficult to beat this young team has become since the wobbles of the autumn.
More excitingly, this evening sees Arsenal take on Chelsea at Wembley for a place in the final of the FA Cup. And, after a 4-1 aggregate win over Villarreal in which the team got better as the tie progressed, there is also a mouth-watering Champions League semi-final against Manchester United to look forward to, with the prospect of facing Chelsea or Barcelona (which would be a repeat of the 2006 final) in Rome on May 27th.
So much for this season being a disaster and a write-off.
Tantalisingly, six of our next eight games are against Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool, including Premier League games against each of them. No matter what, we (almost) certainly won't win the title, but we will have a bigger say than anyone else in determining who does. (And it's worth noting that none of the three have beaten Arsenal this season, with only Liverpool avoiding defeat.)
Beyond the Premier League title race, odds are that we may still end the season trophyless. But Arsenal are very much the masters of their own destiny in the FA Cup and Champions League, and you can't ask for more than that at this stage.
Less than two months ago, Arsene Wenger and his team were booed off the field at the Emirates Stadium after a fourth consecutive 0-0 draw in the Premier League. Some fans even called for Wenger's resignation. How silly they must feel now. Today, Arsenal fans can look forward to the next few weeks with as much excitement as any in Europe. That feels pretty good.
Maybe - just maybe - the kingmakers of the English Premier League may also become kings of Europe. Bring it on!
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3 years ago