Arsenal: Analyzing the Gunners' Next 5 Opponents
Arsenal have toiled in the pursuit of three points these past few weeks as winning positions have been surrendered in the most frustrating fashion.
The Gunners are still well and truly in the race for qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League, though, and will consider themselves still one of the favourites to clinch a place in the competition next season by finishing in the top four of the Premier League.
But form must be found sooner rather than later before the vultures begin to circle both Arsene Wenger and the players' heads.
Here is a rundown on their next five opponents both domestically and on the European stage—opportunities for Arsenal to turn it all around.
Tottenham Hostpur, Home, Nov. 17
EPL Standing: 7th
Key Player: Gareth Bale
Arsenal's most keenly fought derby match of the season rolls around once again in a little under a week's time, as Tottenham pays a visit to the Emirates.
Andre Villas-Boas' side may sit one place ahead of the Gunners in the Premier League table, but they too have shown their fair share or deficiencies already this season.
Though the injury to Moussa Dembele hasn't helped, the team has been weak playing through the middle, with the statuesque Tom Huddlestone's inclusion not helping matters.
Gareth Bale is still Spurs' key creative spark—if Arsenal can keep a lid on him, the rest, including the clinical Jermain Defoe, will follow.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal
Montpellier, Home, Nov. 21
Group B Standing: 4th
Key Player: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa
Currently sitting in 14th place domestically, Montpellier have been a genuine disappointment this season, following their against-the-odds run to Ligue 1 glory last term.
Olivier Giroud's switch to North London didn't help matters, but all-in-all, the French side have just looked a little drained of both energy and motivation.
Younes Belhanda and Anthony Mounier are danger men going forward, but lanky central defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa will be the Montpellier man Arsenal will have to focus most on negotiating a way past.
If the Gunners can win, they'll be in pole position in Group B heading into the final round of fixtures. If not, they may have to rely on results from other games.
Prediction: 3-1 Arsenal
Aston Villa, Away, Nov. 24
EPL Standing: 17th
Key Player: Christian Benteke
It is dangerous to take a snapshot of a team when they face off against a top club in the Premier League.
Southampton looked dangerous against Manchester City in August, Norwich looked rigid and tactically astute against Arsenal last month, and this past weekend, Aston Villa looked the genuine article in an unfortunate 3-2 loss to Manchester United.
With Christian Benteke looking like Didier Drogba version 2.0, Paul Lambert's side's performance in that match was terrific and defied their relegation-threatened position in the league.
They've been very poor throughout much of the season in reality, though. Which team shows up to face Arsenal seemingly depends on whether or not they still think of the Gunners as a top club.
Prediction: 0-0 Draw
Everton, Away, Nov. 28
EPL Standing: 4th
Key Player: Marouane Fellaini
High-flying Everton host Arsenal at Goodison Park in a midweek fixture later this month.
David Moyes' side have been coldly efficient so far this season, with players like Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar bombarding the box with endless crosses for the powerful Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic to get on the end of.
The Belgian brute Fellaini has surely been one of the standout players of the season so far, combining an excellence in the air with a surprising guile with the ball at his feet.
With the way both these teams are currently playing, it is difficult to see how Arsenal can emerge from Goodison Park unscathed.
Prediction: 2-0 Everton
Swansea City, Home, Dec. 1
EPL Standing: 11th
Key Player: Pablo Hernandez
Swansea City were quickly brought back to earth after a terrific start to their 2012-13 season.
Huge wins over QPR and West Ham were followed by a series of disappointing results and struggling displays.
Michael Laudrup's side almost looks like a different team at present, relying far less on the barnstorming Michu and stocky Danny Graham and more on new signings like the tricky Pablo Hernandez and the agile central midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng.
Swansea are the type of team Arsenal typically put to the sword—one that admirably tries to play quick, passing football but ultimately are just a poor version of the Gunners.
Prediction: 3-0 Arsenal
What do you think the near future holds in store for Arsenal? Where can they pick up three valuable points?