Nah, not a canack.
Yes, for now, but it just requires strategy and knowing which troop you're deploying and what it can do. For example, a player uses a giant + witch combo, many players who didn't check how every troop works would probably deploy weird troops on the giant while the witch at the back will support and kill everything on the giant's path. But if you have some brain, you will kill the witch with a strong troop (preferably the Valkyrie). At this point, the giant will be left alone punching your princess tower. Use troops like skeletons, skeleton armies, mini pekka, goblins (melee) etc. Also, they're increasing the ways to obtain legendary cards (start appearing from arena 4). If you know the tactics and how to play, you can easily go up in arenas. I started a week ago in a mini account and I'm already getting close to arena 4. I'm currently in arena 7 in my main account.
Here's how you can counter a valk+Prince attack ( since only noobs do it, you won't find it in higher arenas). Just try to stop the prince's charge with cheap troops and when it's done, put Valkyrie and some troops like a mini pekka to finish it off.
Yes, it will help you a dozen if you throw cash at it. But you can try the f2p and simple way for a more tense and adventurous experience.