Wenger is insisting tough November will be crucial time
BY CRAIG HOPE/ There is something about November that makes Arsene Wenger nervous. Rather than accept the plaudits as Arsenal sat momentarily top at the weekend, he was a little guarded, instead pointing to the potential pitfalls of a month which has been both costly and cruel in recent years.
Here is why. Twelve months ago they had won five on the spin in the Premier League before a November which opened with a 5-1 drubbing at Bayern Munich and was followed by a fortunate home draw against Spurs, defeat at West Brom and a draw away to Norwich. A month which had started with talk of the title ended with calls for the Frenchman to go.
Go back two years, even. And, after back-to-back defeats to Swansea and Manchester United, one banner inside the Emirates Stadium read: ‘Enough is enough. Wenger out’.
Three years ago? Again, a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford in which the only goal was scored by his former captain and striker Robin van Persie.
Let’s go back to 2012, this one was particularly nasty. On November 3, again at Old Trafford, Arsenal lost 2-1. Who scored the opener in his first appearance against his old club? Yes, Van Persie. Worst of all, however, was the ‘vile and unfunny abuse’ - as Sportsmail put it - to which Wenger was subject throughout the game. They went on to drop six more points with draws against Fulham, Aston Villa and Everton.
There are more. Consecutive home defeats to Newcastle and Spurs in 2010 again saw Wenger ridiculed. So when, as October closes, it is put to him that his team are looking better than ever, he is right to sound caution. “I believe we are more mature than in previous seasons.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looks on at a soldier during the remembrance day.