Arsenal are onto something this season, but October will be no joke
Between the Premier League and Europa League, Arsenal will play nine matches across October, as well as another four matches across nine days in early November. That is some gauntlet, and while they’re far from the only team that will have to overcome the remarkable scheduling that a winter World Cup has created, winning October and early November will be crucial for the Gunners – no matter what any pundits have to say upon the matter.
Should Arsenal find themselves top of the Premier League table come the World Cup break, then supporters will feel good about the Gunners’ chances of competing with Manchester City for the title. The club will then have an opportunity in the winter to make the required signings to aid a potential title push – or at least solidify a top-four spot.
Before that, though, the Gunners can silence a lot of doubters by performing over the next month. Not having to play either Manchester side will make the task a bit easier, but Premier League matches against Tottenham and Liverpool will be valid indicators as to where this Arsenal side are at.
Squad depth will be tested once the Europa League returns in midweek, and Mikel Arteta’s ability to effectively rotate his side will be crucial in the upcoming month. Arsenal have tricky tests against PSV Eindhoven and Bodo/Glimt in Europe, and several first-teamers may be required to ensure the Gunners walk away from those bouts with three points.
Arsenal: 13 Matches To The World Cup
The first order of business for this Arsenal side will be against one of the best teams in the Premier League right now. It will be a test, in fact, of who is the best team in north London with Tottenham visiting the Emirates on 1 October. Arsenal can still remember being beaten by Spurs at the end of last year which, alongside their defeat in the next match against Newcastle United, sealed their Europa League fate for this current season.
The Gunners are looking to put those memories to bed, and to do that, they will have to soundly defeat Antonio Conte and Harry Kane to begin October properly. While there is an entire season still ahead of each side, there can be no doubt that both teams will wish to dominate and embarrass their fiercest rival.
Revenge is on the menu for Mikel Arteta’s men.
A win is simply too valuable against a hated rival, and while a loss is undesirable as well, ambitious teams go for it when they feel they must. Both of these outfits are sufficiently ambitious and will do what it takes to find some joy on the pitch, even if it is a dangerous line to walk.
After that, Arsenal are playing twice a week. Liverpool will be a difficult match following a Europa League Thursday, no matter the Reds’ form. While one wouldn’t expect them to continue in such a dysfunctional manner, stranger things have happened. If Arsenal can meet them in that state, they’ll feel confident about beating Jurgen Klopp’s men and leave no doubt in the minds of pundits about the state of this team and their ambition moving forward.
PSV Eindhoven on back-to-back Thursdays afterwards will test the mettle of Arteta’s squad more seriously than at any European night up until that point, but with weekend matches against Southampton and Nottingham Forest sandwiching them, Arteta and company might prioritise overcoming the dangerous Dutch outfit. No matter who plays in England and Europe, they will be appropriately drilled and ready to play, but judging who poses more problems – Southampton or PSV – is a difficult call given the difference between the Premier League and the Eredivisie.
While November will feature several additional tough tests in the forms of FC Zurich, Chelsea, Brighton, and Wolves, October must be priority number one as those are Arsenal’s first set of encounters. November, in its shortened glory, will be the cherry on top, but that cherry can only be placed if the work in October has already been properly put in. Arsenal have the players and all the ability to win frequently over the next two months, but only focus and hunger will determine how much winning they actually do by the time the World Cup break arrives in mid-November.