Red October, Black November, What of December?
Arsenal and the League Cup do not really go together that well, the club’s record is littered with defeats to such luminaries as Tranmere, Rotherham, Walsall (again), Swindon (on a couple of occasions). This season has seen the club qualify for the semi-finals for a record fourteenth time where the opposition will be Ipswich Town, the last lower division side to win at Arsenal in this competition, 2 – 1 in 2000.
The first goal Arsenal score in the next round will be their 350th in the League Cup. Curiously enough, Arsenal have beaten Ipswich and Leeds United in cup-ties in the same season once before: 1992/93. Let’s hope for a repeat of that season successes as a minimum for this campaign.
With Birmingham and West Ham in the other tie, it is a prime opportunity to end the current run of five years without a trophy, a phrase which will be replaced in the media with ‘seven years without a title’ if the main trinket ends up elsewhere at the end of this campaign. You’ve been warned.
Before all of that though, there is the small matter of December to negotiate, starting this weekend with Fulham. November is a poor time of the year so that theory goes, with many a campaign under Wenger stumbling through. This season seems worse because of the two Premier League home defeats suffered yet three away wins is better than normal. Indeed, winning all of the away trips is better than has previously been achieved. October is, by comparison, a doddle. Since the Invincibles run ended at Old Trafford in 2004, the only defeats suffered in that month have been at the hands of West Bromich Albion (2005), CSKA Moscow (2006) and Chelsea (2010). Of the remaining 33 games in that spell, Arsenal has won 24 and drawn 9. Red October indeed.
Despite this ‘poor’ record, the team sits two points off the summit of the Premier League with a goal difference that is only marginally worse than that of Chelsea and Manchester United, despite the big wins that those two have racked up this season. This month sees the top three play each other. For Arsenal, it is the chance to recoup the three points lost at Stamford Bridge two weeeks after visiting Old Trafford. Chelsea have a run that includes consecutively, Tottenham (a), United (h) Arsenal (a).
Outside of these fixtures, all has emminently winnable games with points dropped being more costly than those in the top three encounters. It is this area that Wenger will be eyeing, keen to build on the home win over Wigan as a basis for erasing the recent poor performances at The Emirates.
With the squad gradually being strengthened by everyone bar Vermaelen returning to fitness, Wenger can focus on form as the key criteria for the team selection as the Premier League takes centre stage once Partizan have been disposed of.
Being in a similar position in the Premier League as the New Year starts will be a good place to lead a cavalary charge as Winter melts into Spring.
Posted on December 2, 2010, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Carling Cup, Football, Premier League, Soccer. Bookmark the permalink. 211 Comments.