Arsenal: Historic crunch time comes to the fore once again

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks dejected during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on April 30, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks dejected during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on April 30, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /
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Arsenal face yet another tricky run of fixtures in November and December. It is the crunch time of the season. They must, unlike other years, step up to the mark.

The annual Arsenal trajectory is again taking place.

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A slow start to the season that leads some to question Arsene Wenger’s standing at the club as another quiet transfer window draws to a close is followed by a surprisingly solid run of results that sees them haul their way back towards the top of the table. But just as hope is starting to resurface, a string of difficult games sees them falter, forcing them to have to rethink things through the Christmas period and winter months.

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Another brief resurgence is then met by catastrophe as winter turns to spring. Champions League humiliation, disastrous league form. Europe is done for, as is the title, and the top four is now an uphill battle. They close the season strong, however, perhaps lifting the FA Cup and maybe clawing their way back into the top four by the end of the year. Sound familiar?

And this season, the same cycle is in full force: The North London outfit started slowly, with losses to Stoke City and Liverpool leading many to question Wenger’s role at the club. They then recovered, losing just once since then, and now enter a November and early December with several troubling fixtures.

Here are the Gunners upcoming fixtures over the coming weeks: Red Star Belgrade (H); Manchester City (A); Tottenham Hotspur (H); FC Koln (A); Burnley (A); Huddersfield Town (H); Manchester United (H); BATE Borisov (A); Southampton (A). That is far from a kind run.

Moreover, Arsenal’s troubles in November have been well documented. Before last season, it was, under Wenger, their worst month in terms of points per game by some distance. In November, they averaged 1.59 points per game. The next worst was August at 1.88 points per game. That is quite a disparity.

And last year, they averaged 1.66 points per game with two draws and a win. Hardly a title-winning rate. The crunch time of the season is again here for this Arsenal team. After Thursday’s Europa League match against Belgrade, two successive matches against Manchester City and Spurs, two of the three best teams in the league on current form, will have a heavy influence on determining the outlook for the rest of the year.

Next: Arsenal Vs Red Star Belgrade: Predicted starting XI

If a title challenge is to be enjoyed, as Wenger and Ivan Gazidis have proclaimed is their aim, then they must deliver where they have been unable to in the past. The time is now to step up to the mark. Let’s see if they are capable.