Arsenal: Wenger on November history; Defender derby doubt; Neville yet to trust Gunners
Arsene Wenger said Arsenal’s destiny lies ‘in the minds of the players’ as Arsenal look to start November in a positive fashion against Ludogorets in Sofia. November is the Gunners’ worst month historically under Arsene Wenger; they average just 1.59 points per game in the league, winning just 36 of 78 matches.
They face Spurs, Manchester United and PSG over the next 30 days in a programme that could well set the tone for the rest of Arsenal’s season. Despite their strong run domestically, many pundit are still sceptical as to how much has changed at Arsenal, and will be waiting to stick the boot in should things turn sour. Wenger though, is not concerned with what has has gone before:
“But we need to continue to do what we’ve done until now by just focusing on the next game. We have to try to win tomorrow night and then we have Tottenham at home on Sunday.
“The best way to prepare for that is for us to continue our strong run. It’s important to keep a good balance between vigilance and confidence.
“We’ve had in difficult Novembers in previous seasons, but we’ve also had positive ones in our history too,” the boss added. “The most important thing is to not live with the past, we have to live with the team we have at the moment.”
Arsenal’s fixture list is certainly harder this month than it was in October, but the fixtures might not be as daunting as they look on paper. The Gunners have been in better form than all three of those teams, and if they have aspirations to keep for major honours they should attack these games bullishly.
Sometimes they have approached these big games in a rather tentative manner, most notably at Old Trafford last season when they were turnover by an understrength Manchester United side. There was a sense that they were playing the history of the fixture rather than the game at hand, and they have every right to feel confident.
Elsewhere, Hector Bellerin has been left out of tonight’s squad because of a ‘little incident’ in training yesterday. With the north London Derby on Sunday, Wenger will want his first choice right back fit but The Sun are reporting that he is a huge doubt for the game.
Arsenal are clearly being ultra-cautious with Bellerin, and there is yet to be any further detail given about the nature of his injury. Spurs have great pace down their left flank through Danny Rose, so having the speedy Bellerin to go stride for stride with him will be a big insurance for Arsenal.
Finally, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has claimed Arsenal are yet to win his trust this season in one of the most open title races in recent memory. Arsenal have won seven and drawn two in their last nine games, but need a few more big results to convince Neville by the sound of it who was very impressed with Chelsea’s display at Southampton:
“I think Tottenham are as good as Liverpool, I think Tottenham are as good as Chelsea, there’s no doubt, but because Spurs are in European competition I would put Chelsea and Liverpool ahead of them in the Premier League for that reason.
“I think Manchester City and Arsenal are the better teams, but can you trust either of them fully yet? I don’t think you can. That’s not to say they won’t go and deliver, but because they’re in Europe, and that they’ve shown glimpses of the old Arsenal and old City, they’ve got to give me more yet before I trust them.”
Featured image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal
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