Arsenal title prediction's still premature

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A mere eight weeks ago, the obituaries for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal were arriving in their droves.

The draw with relegation threatened Bolton Wanderers at the start of February continued a four-match winless run in the Premier League for the Gunners, as they occupied seventh spot in the division - 12 points separating them from third placed Tottenham Hotspur.

The gap to their local rivals appeared insurmountable, and furthermore the faith from the Emirates Stadium crowd, who were later to be disappointed in the club's search for a first trophy in seven years, was beginning to wane.

Criticism piled in over Wenger's long term strategy, but while the club's finances were in perfect working order, an inability to spend in the transfer market was damaging the team's short-term prospects. Some were even calling for the Frenchman's head.

However, after seven consecutive wins, such negativity has reached the end of the line. All change at Arsenal; now revived, the title is the next step according to those in the know.

Forgive me for my brief memory lapse, but if Arsenal were in such dire straits two months ago, why after seven straight, albeit impressive, wins are they being touted as contenders?

Granted, talk of new additions in the summer appear encouraging to the trained ear, but how often have we speculated over potential new recruits in north London, only to be hopelessly let down come September?

Arsenal's recent run is reminiscent of Liverpool's surge at the end of last season, which saw them claim 10 wins in their last 16 games under Kenny Dalglish.

With Luis Suarez having settled in nicely, and a heap of new players recruited in the summer, big things were expected of Liverpool, with a title charge, let alone a Champions League spot, mentioned as potential new term targets. It would be fair to say the Reds have fallen way short of such expectations.

A similarly fruitful summer is expected at Arsenal this year, and depending on who you believe Lukas Podolski, Jan Vertonghen and Yann M'Vila will all be recruited well in advance of deadline day, in contrast to last year's scatter-gun transfer policy.

Talk about a title challenge is frankly papering over the cracks of what has been another disastrous season for the Gunners' trophy ambitions.

The dominance of Barcelona and Real Madrid means the Champions League simply works as financial comfort even for a club of Arsenal's size.

Don't believe the hyperbole that a run into the top four, which sees them take their place in Europe's premier club competition, can be the precursor to a title charge. It was simply a reaction to the club's plight outside those places.

You need only look at the departure of Cesc Fabregas, and more to a point Samir Nasri, to prove that Champions League football isn't enough to show that progression is being made. And that in itself is the underlining point of Arsenal's entire season.

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