If in one word I have to sum up Arsenal’s season so far, it is:
The Gunners, as always, have played some breathtaking football but it has come in patches. A reason why they haven’t won three games at a stretch up to this point.
Last month, they won three and lost three. Two back to back wins was followed by two back to back defeats.
Then, another two important wins was followed by a moral damaging defeat at home against Olympiakos in the Champions League.
They have failed to keep the momentum going, so far.
However, things could change after their impressive 3-0 victory over Manchester United on Sunday.
That victory came against United after eight meetings in the league, so psychologically it’s a huge boost uplifts the morale of the team.
Plus, the manner of the victory – convincingly beating the league leaders / arch rivals / title challengers – should give them an immense self belief.
With that victory, Arsenal have showed yet again their never ending knack of getting the desired result when they desperately need it.
With key players (the likes of Ozil and Sanchez) coming back to form, Arsenal need to find a rhythm and start winning matches at a stretch.
Second in the league table, two points behind Manchester City, the Gunners have a great chance of moving to the top by the end of October.
Of course, when you’re at the top, you can only look at yourself and forget about the rest, but when you’re below that, you’ve to rely on other favourable grounds.
Let me make it simple:
Say, Arsenal win all their remaining Premier League games in October, will they still top the table?
Because, it depends on City’s results from their fixtures. Arsenal can only capitalise if City drop points from their games.
And the only game (theoretically) where City can drop points is when they travel to Old Trafford to face derby rivals Manchester United.
This is something beyond Arsenal’s control, so we take a look what the Gunners can do with their fixtures in October.
First, let’s check the Arsenal fixtures:
Premier League: Watford vs Arsenal Saturday 17th October
Champions League: Arsenal vs Bayern Munich Tuesday 20th October
Premier League: Arsenal vs Everton Saturday 24th October
League Cup: Sheff Wed vs Arsenal Tuesday 27th Oct
Premier League: Swansea vs Arsenal Saturday 31st October
Here’s the catch:
Watford are enjoying their return in the Premier League, and like Leicester, they have been pretty impressive as well.
Sitting comfortably 12th in the table, Watford have an identical record both home and away: one win (h & a) two draws (h & a) & two defeats (h & a).
Watford have struggled to score goals at home, having managed only one goal so far, so one can expect Arsenal to win comfortably at Vicarage Road.
The next two games after Watford are very crucial for the Gunners. If Arsenal lose against Bayern, they’re almost certain to exit from the group stages of UCL.
Which in a way is a good news, as they can focus on the league, but for a club like Arsenal, bowing out at the group stage is all but humiliating.
The Champions League fixture is therefore a sort of do-or-die for them. And it can have a huge impact on the Everton game depending on the results.
The reason being:
Roberto Martinez’s side have played some lovely football this season, and are in full of confidence at the moment.
The Toffees are only two places off top four, and they have a realistic chance of getting in there, with Liverpool and Chelsea struggling badly to keep up the pace.
Everton have never beaten Arsenal away in the league since 1995/96, and although I don’t expect them to beat the Gunners at the Emirates, but they’re well capable of picking up a point and frustrate the home team.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t treat the League Cup seriously, and he sees the competition as a good platform to give the fringe players and other youngsters the much needed game time to keep them in good shape.
Arsenal’s final game of this month is at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea City. In recent years, the fixture has gained popularity, partly due to the playing style of the two teams.
Both the teams love to play an eye-catchy attacking football and therefore it usually results in a fascinating contest.
In last five meetings between the two teams, both Swansea and Arsenal have won twice, with the Swans managing a league double last season over Arsene Wenger’s men.
To sum up, Arsenal have few tricky fixtures (Everton & Swansea) where they can drop points, so my prediction is, the Gunners will have to wait for next month (or may be more) to get to the top of the Barclays Premier League.