Ask any Arsenal fan who has been paying attention for the past five years and they’ll tell you Novembers are terrifying.
But are Arsenal fans really right to be afraid of the month or have they just imagined the whole horror story?
Let’s take a look:
Last November, Arsenal lost at West Brom, drew at home with Spurs, and got spanked 5-1 at Bayern Munich. We won one game that month – a home tie against Dinamo Zagreb.
That month we also lost Mikel Arteta to calf problem, Laurent Koscielny to a thigh, Kieran Gibbs (calf), Santi Cazorla (knee) Alexis Sanchez (hamstring), and Laurent Koscielny (thigh again).
November 2014 was slightly better in that we managed to win two games – Borussia Dortmund and Burnley at home. But that was the month we blew a three-goal lead against Anderlecht and lost to United at home while also losing to Swansea away.
Injuries that month included Jack Wilshere (illness then ankle), Mikel Arteta (hamstring then calf), Danny Welbeck (hamstring), Wojciech Szczesny (hip), Abou Diaby (calf), Yaya Sanogo (calf), Kieran Gibbs (thigh), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), and Nacho Monreal (knee).
But it wasn’t always like this in November. But mostly it has been, for the last few years anyway.
In 2013 we managed to beat Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Southampton, Marseille and Cardiff. We lost just one game that month – the usual against United.
Injuries included Kieran Gibbs (calf then illness), Per Mertesacker (illness), Thomas Vermaelen (calf), Tomas Rosicky (illness), Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), Aaron Ramsey (hamstring), Jack Wilshere (shin), and Ryo Miyaichi (hamstring).
2012 again saw us lose just one game in November, in a month that included the 5-2 win over Spurs and a win over Montpellier. We also drew with Aston Villa, Fulham and Schalke. The one defeat? United. Obviously.
The crocks included Aaron Ramsey (groin), Theo Walcott (illness then thigh then shoulder then ankle), Mikel Arteta (thigh), Olivier Giroud (hamstring), Andre Santos (abdominal strain), Lukas Podolski (illness), Bacary Sagna (ankle) and Laurent Koscielny (thigh).
2011 saw a decent November. There weren’t many big games and we lost the only one, this time to Manchester City. We didn’t lose to United in November 2011, but that’s because we didn’t play them. We’d already lost 8-2 back in August, and we were still feeling that three months later.
Marouane Chamakh (knee), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle), Carl Jenkinson (back), Tomas Rosicky (thigh) and Abou Diaby (hamstring) all struggled.
Defeats at Braga, Shakhtar Donetsk and at home to Tottenham and Newcastle made this a sucky month. We beat Wigan, Villa, Everton, and Wolves, but seriously -we lost to Tottenham at home. We didn’t lose to United this month either, because we didn’t play them, obviously. We did, however, lose to them less than two weeks after the end of the month. It’s good to be consistent, eh?
Injuries? Jack Wilshere (back), Gael Clichy (back), Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) and Emmanuel Eboue (MCL Knee) all went down with Samir Nasri picking up a knee injury one day after November ended.
By my count, Arsenal’s November record for 2010-2015 is
- Won 15
- Lost 12
- Drawn 7
- Injuries/illness incidents: 46
So what of this year?
A quick check on current injuries shows us that Arsenal are without eight players (Welbeck, Akopm, Mertesacker, Lucas, Walcott, Monreal, Cazorla, with Bellerin to be added). Olivier Giroud has only just returned and nobody is quite sure if Ramsey’s upper legs are still made from candyfloss.
I don’t really think I need to draw any conclusions for you.
It’s all pretty clear from what’s above.
Can this year be the one we finally manage to beat United in November? Doing it with Jose Mourinho in charge would be the sweetest.
Will we avoid yet more injuries?
Can we ensure north London dominance?
These are the questions we don’t yet know the answers to.
Arsenal 14 games unbeaten
But nothing lasts forever
We both know hearts can change
And it's hard to hold a candle
In the cold November Rain pic.twitter.com/dWdcmVZNk7
— Conor McNamara (@ConorMcNamaraIE) October 31, 2016