Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday, it’s been a busy weekend of people having birthdays, moving and American’s treating Halloween really damn seriously.
Back in the game today, and this week… BECAUSE IT’S NLD WEEK!
This is a particularly exciting one because Spurs and Arsenal are both title contenders. Pochettino is one of the best coaches around in my opinion and he’s quietly gone about his business at Spurs building a youthful hardworking team. He added Wanyama in the summer, which looks to have paid dividends. The scum are still unbeaten in the league, but they did drop points at the weekend in a hard-fought draw against Leicester.
Arsenal on the other hand, have been on a delightful streak, unbeaten in 14 now, joint top of the league with City and Liverpool, playing some special football at times. However, the twist in our season generally happens around November time.
See that above, that’s a damn graph. It maps Wenger’s points per game over the last 20 years or so and what is clear is it states that Wenger is pretty shocking during November. I’m not sure where the graph comes from, so I can’t credit it…
*Update* Ben Green of 101Greatgoals made the graph
BUT, things to note that might be different this time.
1. We have a squad this year. Real players, of the right age and the right quality. No Denilson’s waiting in the wings. No stale Arteta’s or crocked Rosicky’s
2. The impact of our fitness turnaround seems to have reached maturity
3. There’s balance throughout the squad. So when big names drop out, we have a like for like to come back in
4. We’re bringing back options at just the right time. Giroud, Ramsey and maybe Welbeck… all at the point you can really do with that sort of quality.
What might make November familiar is that so far this season, though we’ve done well, we’ve mostly picked up points where we shouldn’t have lost them last season. We’ve had an easy run if we’re brutally honest, we’ve smashed a now resurgent Chelsea which was the major win… but outside that, it’s just been par the course.
This month we face bogey manager Jose Mourinho at United, plus Spurs, PSG, Bournemouth and Southampton at home. The Spurs game made that little bit more tricky because we have an away game at Ludogorets (Bulgaria, weird Bulgaria, so a long coach journey I think), so we’ll have to rest or do what Wenger normally does and go with a full team then blame tired legs and an away game.
Spurs play Bayer at home, a day later, but there’s a huge amount of value in not having to sleep in hotels / spend time on planes and buses.
So basically, we have a typically thick and fast November. For me, if we manage 8 points out of our 4 Premier League games, and 4 our of our CL fixtures, we’ll have had a very good month. We’d also have beaten our average by over 20%, which would be statistically marvelous
So when Wenger says…
“We now have difficult games coming up, with a difficult November, so by the end of November we will know more about ourselves,” Wenger said.
“The desire is there and the mentality is great, though. There is great togetherness, we have quality as well, so they are good ingredients.
“But we have to show that we can do it week in and week out.”
… he’s not wrong. We’ve heard a replay of this sort of talk season after season for years. We’ve been top of the league in January in recent memory, we were in a fantastic position to take the league last year and we messed it up. I am positive about the season so far, but I can’t help but be mentally scarred by the past… like the dog that flinches at a raised slipper… I worry November is our raised slipper, we’ve been spanked by it too many times to truly believe.
But look, if you’re going to win things, the tide has to turn at some point (something I’ve penned many times). Hopefully it turns this year…