Just as the League was dawning

Spring was confusing, a little bit scary
Summer was much of the same
By Winter you run with the night, never came home.

Big Business – Just as the Day Was Dawning

As the Premier League prepares to enter November, three teams have played 10, won 7, drawn 2, and lost 1: Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Three teams with a 70% win rate. If that pattern continues then there will be three teams at the top of the table on 87 points this spring. A spring that seems like an eternity.

And just behind the three teams in the lead are Chelsea, Tottenham, and Everton. With all six teams within touching distance of each other that means by my count there are six teams fighting for four spots.

Of the six teams, only three have European games; Arsenal, Man City, and Tottenham. Mid-week distractions that take the club to far flung places like Bulgaria. The other three teams get a week off. A week to rest and prepare for the next big game.

That’s the sum of it. Three teams at the top each need to have the depth to play two games a week for the next 28 weeks and the other three can just concentrate on the Premier League. The extra rest is a huge boon to Liverpool, who play a high tempo pressing game and need the extra rest to play their style of game, and who must be favorites to win the long race that is the Premier League.

Scream bloody murder, the mountains are listening
Vultures mistook you for dead, bloody
How can you sleep when you can’t pull the teeth from your eyes?

Big Business – Just as the Day Was Dawning

Depth is a favorite Arsenal keyword. Along with depth we also have “mental strength.” These are not by any means the only two phrases that crop up over and over again with Arsenal but they are the two most prominently in the news today.

Arsenal showed depth and mental strength this weekend. Leading for the majority of the match, Petr Cech conceded a penalty and let Sunderland draw level. It was a familiar scene for many Arsenal supporters: little club, struggling to win games, gets a break, and suddenly Arsenal are under a huge amount of pressure to win and prove they are a title contender.

You can understand the pressure. With the title race in a three way draw, any little slip means a mountain to climb to get back to the top. If Arsenal had gone on to draw that match, they would have dropped to 4th. Of course a slip now doesn’t mean the title race is over; as Jurgen Klopp so wonderfully put it “I’m pretty sure [the Premier League] was never decided at the end of October.” But dropping down the ladder means that all the teams above have to drop points in order to get back to the top.

For weeks now, you run and you talked in your sleep
You shook me awake to announce, you’re never alone

Big Business – Just as the Day Was Dawning

So, the pressure is real. The players and manager know that they have to stay level on results with the teams around them and hopefully capitalize when City or Liverpool slip.

Wenger responded, he brought on Olivier Giroud and told Ozil to feed the beast. With his very first touch of the ball, Giroud scored what is now a typically Giroud goal, a shot from a crazy angle, and sent Arsenal back into the lead. He then scored a second, a perfect header off an Ozil corner looped past the scrambling hands of the keeper and into the corner.

Then Alexis, a man who looks as wide as he is tall and who plays like a little bull, finished the match off with a neat little clean up in the 6 yard box, sending the keeper to his left and finishing right.

Bringing Giroud on was the perfect response and proof that Arsenal do have depth. There was even more evidence of depth in the fact that Arsenal started Elneny for Coquelin and that Wenger was able to start Gibbs, who looked outstanding, for the injured left back Monreal. And the team sheet showed Aaron Ramsey, another creative midfielder/chaos agent for Arsenal, returned from injury and got the assist for Alexis’ last goal.

November has been one of the cruelest of months for Arsenal, with Wenger’s men averaging just 1.59 points per game through that period. And this November is no different, as Wenger’s men travel to Bulgaria on Tuesday for a Champions League match against Ludogorets and then return to face the old enemy, Tottenham, on Saturday.  After that, Arsenal face Manchester United and then Paris Saint Germain before a tough match against Bournemouth and then finishing the month with a League Cup tie against Southampton.

That November is going to be a month full of daunting obstacles is a fact that Wenger admitted in his post match presser: “We now have some difficult games coming up, we have a difficult November, so by the end of November we’ll know more about ourselves – but the desire and mentality is great in this side. We have a great togetherness and we have quality as well. They are good ingredients.”

Arsenal have the ingredients. But will the ingredients stay fresh or will they spoil in the dark and rainy days of November?

Qq

22 Comments on Just as the League was dawning

  1. I’m excited, I cannot lie. I’m happy too that by the end of November, I can really set my expectations for this season

  2. it’s important to start november strong. arsenal can and should beat both ludgorets and tottenham. however, in cup competitions, the best team doesn’t always win, especially away from home. likewise, form goes out the window in derby matches.

    i still expect arsenal to win both matches. particularly against tottenham, they have two advantages. first, no harry kane. second, despite the stoutness of spurs defense this season, this type of defense is the reason cruyff invented the false 9. arsenal will need coquelin to stay on the pitch. ironically, this game may have aaron ramsey game-winner written all over it. we’ll see.

    that’s all i’ve got, i’m just taking it one week at a time. i’ll defer the rest of november’s games to a later date or leave it up to you smart guys to discuss now.

  3. Pretty cool lyrics for a metal stoner sludge band. We are set for a run which if successful, will confirm legitimate title hopes. Until February…

    I too am genuinely looking forward to the next few weeks starting Tuesday. And PLEASE…no more injuries. Lets get through the dark months without you know, darkness and bad stuff.

  4. It’s certainly building up nicely. The key will be how teams cope with injuries.
    For me, Liverpool’s defence will cost them, especially if they lose a key player or two. Their squad looks thinnest.
    Spuds look toothless without Kane but hard to beat. If they get another defensive injury then we’ll see how robust they are.
    City will be up there but have shown they can creak defensively.
    Everton will have some good results but some bad ones too. I don’t see them a a title challenger.
    Chelsea … hmmmm, not sure what to make of them. Could be great or could see their old defence found out again as we get to winter.

    As forcus, I feel pretty confident that we’ll be better than last year and up there come the spring. Weve got more options than for a very long time if injuries strike

  5. Honestly, it’s about taking a game at a time. The weekend game is an important one and presents an opportunity for Arsenal to lay down a marker however, a positive result in Bulgaria will be of utmost importance.

    More than injuries, our team gets affected by the confidence within the group. Last November, when we lost Cazorla, Coquelin & Alexis in a span of a couple of weeks, things looked bleak. But, the team pulled through with Ozil and Joel Campbell particularly impressive. That confidence of wins kept us in the race till January where a few bad results cost us the title.

    That’s the learning for Arsenal. A win with a strong team out there tonight will be better than a loss with an inexperienced team. There is sure to be a bad result somewhere inevitably and a response would be needed again. Till then however, we must keep this run going.

    • You’re exactly right about how this time last year we overcame a bad November and stayed at the top until January. The lesson being; we can overcome a month of bad of results in the league. I don’t know what will happen in the upcoming games but if we can maintain our efficiency in front of goal while reintegrating Giroud and Ramsey then teams will keep having to make concessions to the way we play. I hope Arsene still has some tactical trickery up his sleeve.

      For example, can Xhaka replace Cazorla and form an effective unit with Coquelin? Wouldn’t be surprised to see those two start this evening.

  6. This season, it seems I relish our games against the big teams. Not looking ahead with a bit of dread in the back of my mind as in the past.

    On another note, does Arsene remind anyone else of a tall, French Yoda? Often indirect (in a good way, not like a politician) and philosophical when responding to questions, all he needs is to somewhat rearrange his sentence construction. Maybe instead of “but the desire and mentality is great in this side” he could say “but great in this side is desire and mentality.” Oh well. A slow Tuesday morning and this is what I come up with. Thanks for indulging.

    • Errrm … Arsene does rearange sentence structure all the time!

      “We played with a little bit the handbrake” for example 🙂

    • I hear you.

      There was certainly a time recently when our record against the big teams was pretty terrible and any setback usually let to an implosion. The more recent teams certainly seem a lot more sturdy.

    • My guess would be Arsene figured he had a choice between a decent right back who has shown an unwillingness to be a back up player and was, at best, a disruptive influence last year, and another decent right back who loves Arsenal and will do whatever is asked of him.

  7. Love the use of Big Business. Never thought I’d have my two loves, stoner/doom and Arsenal getting together. Great article as ever.

  8. Anyone know of any good bars in Virginia Beach that show Arsenal games?
    In the area for a week and need to see us hammer the scum

  9. You don’t win or challenge for anything without magic. And Ozil is channeling Thierry in his pomp.

    Jurgen Low must be singing Wenger’s praises 10 times a day, because Arsene has made his No. 10 an even better player. He never used to want to take goalscoring responsibility. Boy does he ever now.

    • i’m thinking more bergkamp-esque than henry.

      big ups to giroud for hustling back and winning that ball in the first place.

  10. I knew we would come back even at 2-0. Never a doubt – maybe sweating a little (okay, a lot) after 85′ but Messi Özil indeed (good one, Shard).

    We’ll be watching that goal forever now. One of the best Champions League goals ever in Arsenal history.

    Absolutely brilliant from start to finish: taking control of the pass from Elneny, controlling the awkward bounce, chipping over the keeper with the LEFT foot, the drop of the shoulder juking out the first defender then leaving the second without his shorts with a deft move before calmly slotting home the winner. What?

    Sweet sixteen here we come (again). Such important 3 points when PSG won and Manchester City comprehensively beat The Masters of the Universe.

  11. okay, boys and girls, can you say “bad mutha-fucka”? boys and girls, can you use the term “bad mutha-fucka” in a sentence? boy, oh boy, i sure can: mesut özil is a bad mutha-fucka!

    • You can but it gets sent to my trash folder and then I have to dig it out and post it for you. So, it’s not nice!

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