November will be a month of reckoning for Arsene Wenger’s men. The Gunners are at the top of the table and the in-form team in the English Premier League but the fixture list has conspired to give Arsenal an early test of their trophy credentials in the coming weeks.
Arsenal have certainly found their stride unusually early this season. Many pundits have pointed to a relatively easy schedule so far, but there have been some notable performances that suggest this might just be the season to end the Emirates trophy doubt. A crucial pre-Ozil win against Spurs and the comprehensive victory against Napoli in the UEFA Champions League in particular spring to mind. The question remains whether they are indicators of things to come or glimpses of another false north London dawn.
Borussia Dortmund (twice), Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will all have the opportunity to derail a very confident Arsenal before the end of next month. With so many elite opponents in quick succession, Wenger will have little choice but to rotate his players and hope his squad justifies the relatively small number of summer reinforcements. Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta in particular will need to recapture last season’s performance levels and consistency.
After Mathieu Flamini departed with a head injury against Norwich on Saturday, Arsenal endured a testing ten minute period either side of half-time and struggled to regain their shape. If Ozil and Ramsey have stolen the headlines in the past few weeks, it has been Flamini that has provided the solidity and defensive platform upon which they can showcase their skills. A concussion will rule the Frenchmen out of the game against Dortmund with Arteta likely to assume the defensive midfield responsibilities.
Despite a truly golden run of form, Aaron Ramsey will almost certainly have to be rested at some point, leaving Wilshere in charge of the midfield engine room. By his own admission, the young Englishman has had an indifferent start to the season despite being required to play out of position and will hope that his wonder goal against Norwich can kick-start his campaign.
Borussia Dortmund certainly have the talent to expose any weaknesses in this Arsenal squad when they travel to London on Tuesday night. It is somewhat fitting that these two sides were drawn in the same Champions League group. Both teams pride themselves on a technical, purist style of football and Jurgen Klopp will be able to empathize with Wenger more than most about the anguish of losing marquee players to more powerful rivals. There is also a shared philosophy on how football clubs should be run and both managers will be at pains to prove that a successful team can be built around sensible investment and youth.
While nothing is won and lost in November, it may prove to be a significant month in Arsenal’s quest for silverware.
Watch the highlights from their previous clash,