“Arsenal haven’t played anyone yet”
“Just wait until October”
“Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City”
We were scheduled to have 9 games in 30 days. It was supposed to be too much for our young, thing, frail squad. Throw in fixtures against Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City and it was going to be the month that ended our title challenge.
Arsenal were supposed to tumble down the table during the month of my birthday (Monday 17th, feel free to buy me something from the She Wore Shop). Expectations were that we would not just no longer be top of the table, we would not even be top 4.
“They will be back to 8th by November” Spurs fans flooded Twitter with.
But football games are won on the pitch, not on paper (as are boxing fights Fury fans…).
Firstly the Manchester City game was postponed. Swapped up for the PSV Europa League fixture that was cancelled due to the death of Her Majesty The Queen.
Then we beat Tottenham 3-1. Followed it up with another 3 against Bodo/Glimt. Then 3 goals for the 3rd time in 3 games as we took 3 points against Liverpool.
Finally we travelled to Bodo/Glimt – just North of the Arctic Circle. Another win. Another 3 points.
4 games into our tough October, top of the Premier League, top of the Europa League group.
With 5 games to go in the month, we still need to remain focused. Ensure we do not drop silly points.
Tomorrow we face Leeds United at Elland Road. One of those away fixtures that makes the Premier League the toughest in the world.
Elland Road, Selhurst Park, Goodison Park, these sort of places, when the crowd gets behind the team, makes it a hard day for the visiting side. On the back of a long old trip away in Europe on a Thursday night, these sort of fixtures are never easy.
But like October is becoming easier as the month goes on, that Leeds is also not looking as tricky as it did back in August.
Leeds are in a poor run of form since beating Chelsea 3-0 in the 3rd week of the season – failing to win in their last 5 Premier League games.
But during that period, they are unbeaten at home (drawing against Everton and Aston Villa).
Like so many of these sort of games, scoring first is what will be important.
Then it is onto PSV at home.
Victory in our 4th Europa League game should guarantee qualification to the next round of the competition. And then that makes October less intensive as we will be able to put out a complete changed XI for the final 2 games.
Then it is on to Southampton – St Mary’s holds a few recent bad memories for Arsenal fans.
But like Leeds, the fixture does not look as tough as it did when they were announced – Southampton having lost their last 4 games.
They play twice more before facing Arsenal (West Ham at home, Bournemouth away in the countries worst “derby”).
The form we are in, the form they are in, you would be dissapointed if we did not walk away with 3 points.
Whilst in theory, we should walk away from Leeds and Southampton with 6 points, this is the Premier League and it is anything but predictable. I would not be surprised if we dropped points in one of the two games. But 4 points from back to back away games would not be a disaster.
Then it is Nottingham Forest at home. Should be an easy win.
With Liverpool and Tottenham out of the way and Manchester City postponed, October has become the month where we have become title challengers rather than also-rans.
If we get through the month with at least 6 points from the next 9, we will be going into November in at least 2nd place.
November sees us face Chelsea (A) and Wolves (H) before the season breaks for the World Cup.
We all would have taken top 2 at the break before the season started. If Manchester City slip up (I do not think they will), we could be going into the break top.
And then with so few of our squad set to be regular starters for their countries, we will be getting a mid-season break.
Fingers crossed we get over the line tomorrow and make it 5 wins from 5 in the first 16 games of October.
We just need to keep going. Keep winning.