After having started the month of October well, Arsenal ended the month by losing two of its last three games to close out the month. As Arsenal head into the month of November, it finds itself atop of the Premier League standings with 22 points from nine games, two ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool who are tied for second. In addition, Arsenal are currently in a three way tie for first with six points through three games in Group F of the Champions League. Yet what lies ahead for Arsene Wenger and Co. in November will be the biggest challenge yet.
In November, Arsenal will see itself tested in league play and Champions League play as each one of the games they contest in the month will be a six point game that will heavily influence whether or not Arsenal come out the other side as contenders to take the league or potentially finishing in the top two of their group to advance to the Round of 16 in the Champions League. This month full of tests begins on Saturday as Arsenal host Liverpool in the late Saturday kickoff.
Following the Liverpool game, Arsenal will jump right back into Champions League play as they visit Borussia Dortmund on November 6 in a very important game that will play a factor into determining what Arsenal need to do in its final two group stage games in order to advance. Then on November 10, Arsenal go up to Old Trafford to play against Manchester United in league play. Following the international break, Arsenal find themselves back without a break in their schedule as on November 23 when they host a Southampton team who is proving to be the real deal under coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Arsenal close out the month with a home Champions League game against Olympique Marseille on Nov. 26 and then travel to Wales to take on Cardiff City in a league game on Nov. 30. Needless to say, this will be one tough month of action ahead for an Arsenal team that despite their good start, finds itself again having to answer certain questions about them as a team, even more so after their Capital One Cup loss to Chelsea on Tuesday night. Aside from the caliber of teams that Arsenal are playing in November, the month ahead will test and challenge Arsenal in several ways.
Arsenal will be tested in terms of health and ensuring that their players are able to stay healthy for the entire month with a international break and national team duty for several players ahead as well. Arsenal already will be without the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, and Lukas Podolski for the Liverpool game. While Flamini recently got injured and will miss the next two weeks, Walcott in theory is expected to return in the next week or two from his abdominal injury and Podolski is only getting back to training after a his groin injury. Already somewhat thin in terms of squad depth, Arsenal will need to do its best to stay healthy during a tough month.
In addition to health, Arsenal must on the field of play tighten up and play well defensively if they expect to win and come out of the other side of November still at the top or near it going forward. In two of their last three games which have been losses for Arsenal, the defense has made critical mistakes that have been capitalized on by their opponents in each game for a goal. This clearly needs to be rectified if Arsenal intend on winning during the month ahead.
While the month of November will be a challenging one for Arsenal at the same time it offers a great opportunity for them to continue to answer and prove critics and skeptics wrong by going out, playing well and more importantly winning games against top teams. Doing so would show that all the talk about being legitimate contenders for the league can be backed up by their play on the field.