At the start of the season, if anyone had told me we’d be near on safe by the turn of the year I’d have pretty much laughed in their face.
On the back of a disappointing (perhaps an understatement?) campaign last season we were once again tipped to struggle with little investment in the summer transfer window in terms of outlay, only one player temporarily brought through the door with a few dependable squad players heading in the other direction.
But fast forward four months and that opening statement could well become reality should we manage to beat Arsenal on our own patch on Sunday. It will be tough but could a result against the Gunners set ourselves on the way to something greater this season?
Arsenal are one of the top sides in the league. They play a football that at times is breathtaking, spellbinding. In a small way the remind me of what we used to be like during the days of the entertainers but they do it with more technical ability than we ever did.
Facing up against a team like that is a true barometer of just how good we are and how far we could go this season. It’s not a given of course as we’re just as likely to beat Arsenal as we are to lose at home to an unfancied team, but there are definite signs of improvement this season, even when you look back at the season we managed to finish fifth in.
It’s the right kind of test for us. Yes we’ve won at Manchester United and Tottenham and beaten Chelsea on our own patch, but in a way they were games with no pressure. Now we have a healthy haul of points on the board and can tentatively look at the table with an eye on the “business end” of the campaign the pressure is starting to slowly build.
Arsene Wenger was the pioneer in bringing a Gallic influence to a football club when he did it at Arsenal all those years ago, but can we now show that the ideal he has moved away from still has a place in the modern day Premier League?
As I wrote in the headline, this is not just a test of ability, but also of aspirations.