Just like that, we’re one-third into the 2012-2013 English Premier League season.
After a tricky November that saw Arsenal pick up only six points in five games, Arsenal currently sit seventh in the Premier League with 21 points.
On paper, though, besides being frankly outplayed and outclassed at Old Trafford, the toughest game for the Gunners ended up being an emphatic victory: a 5-2 North London derby win over Spurs.
Conversely, seemingly easier matches against Fulham and Aston Villa were drawn, and only this Wednesday night Arsene Wenger’s men came away from Goodison Park with a Theo Walcott-inspired point.
But enough of looking back.
Ahead of Arsenal lies a potentially fruitful and lucrative (points-wise) December in the Premier League.
First, a quick preview of the Gunners’ upcoming fixtures:
December 1: Swansea City (Home)
December 8: West Bromwich Albion (Home)
December 17: Reading (Away)
December 22: Wigan Athletic (Away)
December 26: West Ham United (Home)
December 29: Newcastle United (Home)
Let’s start with Swansea, who have more or less matched their achievements of last season under new manager Michael Laudrup with their enterprising attacking and passing approach.
Swansea have delivered two wins away from home, and with Arsenal boasting a three-in-six home win record, Santi Cazorla and co. should have enough in the tank to see off Michu and his cohorts in a battle between two teams who prefer playing on the ground.
December 8 might just represent the toughest of Arsenal’s December fixtures, and Arsene Wenger would do well not to underestimate Steve Clarke’s high-flying and physical West Brom side.
A team boasting the considerable athletic capabilities of Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku, who have already notched nine goals between them, Wenger will be hoping that his defence—which will have Laurent Koscielny’s three-week absence due to a groin injury—holds out against a relentless West Brom attack.
Next are trips to Reading and Wigan, which given their not-so-impressive home records this season and overall placing so far, should be very winnable for the Gunners.
Two successive games in late December are potentially tricky home ties that should go Arsenal’s way.
West Ham find themselves in a solid 10th place with 14 games played, with Sam Allardyce’s team making a predicted impact on their return to the Premier League in trademark physical fashion.
With the on-loan Andy Carroll in charge of smashing through a less-than-physical Arsenal defence, the onrushing Kevin Nolan and Carroll himself look likeliest to score. Likelier than Newcastle anyway, who have probably been the disappointment of this season given their surprise fifth-place finish last term.
Presumably, the outrageous eight-year contract extension for manager Alan Pardew will have had nothing to do with their spectacular slide down the table, but their failure to build on their successes this summer, when their prerogative seemed to be keeping hold of their star players over bringing in more quality, has definitely played a big factor.
So, a crucial and crucially winnable December lies in store for Arsenal.
In the midst of increasing frustration towards Arsene Wenger and the direction that Arsenal are heading as a club, don’t be surprised to see them concede typical Arsenal mistakes in a game or two, costing them a few points in the process.
But, conversely, don’t be surprised to see Arsenal pick up more than 12 points—or even all 18.