So, we’re in November. Arsenal sit in 4th place, with 7 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses from their opening 10 league games – 1 point above bitter rivals Tottenham. In the Europa League the Gunners have a perfect record and have all but qualified following their win in Lisbon last week.
It’s a more than decent start, especially after losing the first two matches of the season, on the surface it looks like progress has been made.
What’s worked? The attack has clicked with 24 goals from 10 Premier League matches, only Manchester City (27) have scored more. Aubameyang is leading the way, currently joint top scorer in the league with 7 goals from just 694 minutes of football.
What hasn’t? Defence is still an issue. Newcastle are second bottom and have conceded 14, Arsenal have only let in one less (13). Emery needs to work out his best defence to navigate a difficult winter, but in all honesty, it looks like investment in that area will be needed in the winter window.
When will we really know how much progress? On the 5th of December. Over the next month Unai Emery will have to negotiate a series of tricky fixtures and we’ll know a lot more about any progress the team has made by then.
The first hurdle: Liverpool (h). On Saturday the Gunners host a Liverpool side that will punish any defensive errors Arsenal may continue to make and like previous encounters, you can expect goals in this one.
Then Emery has a chance to advance the team through to the last 32 of the Europa League if they can beat Sporting Lisbon at home. Following that, they will host Wolverhampton, a team more than capable of taking points off the big boys. Then there’s an international break and four tricky looking fixtures will follow.
Bournemouth (a) – PL
Vorskla (a) – EL
Tottenham (h) – PL
Manchester United (a) – PL
Bournemouth are on fire right now and will present the Gunners with a significant challenge. A trip to Ukraine four days later will look a lot more appetising if Arsenal have already qualified by beating Sporting Lisbon as three days later Emery will partake in his first North London derby – perhaps the most important match of his tenure so far. If the club are to finish in the top four, they’ll almost definitely need to finish above Pochettino’s men, so it goes without saying that this is a huge game.
Just three days after that, Arsenal travel to Old Trafford in a midweek fixture that will be massive for both clubs.
It’s fair to say things are heating up and Emery and his men will certainly be tested in the cold winter months with these congested, trickier looking fixtures.