Now we’ve come to the end of Arsene Wenger’s final season with Arsenal, we’re looking back at the manager’s final campaign, and this time specifically November to January.
This article is the second of three, and yesterday we took a look back at August to October, if you want to check that out. For now it’s onto the final months of 2017 and the start of the new year:
Arsenal had the potential for another difficult November, with matches against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur early on and high-flying Burnley before the end of the month. Starting the traditionally difficult month already in fifth place didn’t help much either.
First, though, Red Star Belgrade came to visit the Emirates in Arsenal’s next Europa League game. The Gunners already had a very strong position in the group after three wins, and a win would all but guarantee top spot. Unfortunately they went on to play out a very boring 0-0 draw.
It was much like the away game in Belgrade, with very few good chances to speak of. On this occasion it didn’t end with a Giroud overhead kick though, and Arsenal had to settle for a point.
Big-Six Double Header
Next Arsenal travelled up to Manchester to face City, who had won all but one game in the season so far. That one game was a draw, and they only had 10 men for most of it.
It was an ask for the Gunners to get anything out of the match, and what made it even more difficult was when Arsene Wenger named the in-form Alexandre Lacazette on the bench. Arsenal went 2-0 down, before Lacazette finally entered the fray and pulled one back. Then a very clearly offside goal killed the tie, and City ran out 3-1 winners.
The team had to pick themselves up quickly, because next up was a visit from Tottenham Hotspur. On this occasion the team really stepped up to the task, and goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez won it for the home side. Assists from Mesut Özil and Alexandre Lacazette helped silence a few doubters as well.
Trip to Cologne
Arsenal had a second chance to ensure they topped the group with a match against FC Köln, but it really didn’t go as planned, with the hosts providing stubborn resistance against the Gunners’ threat. Goalkeeper Timo Horn in particular played well, making seven saves on the night. At the other end, Köln took their one big chance, and won 1-0.
Fortunately it didn’t matter, as a draw between BATE Borisov and Red Star Belgrade meant Arsenal won the group anyway. The defeat didn’t really leave the fans in the mood to celebrate that fact though.
To round out the month, Arsenal actually managed to put a pair of wins together, against Burnley and Huddersfield Town. The Burnley victory was hard-fought, and it took a last minute penalty from Alexis Sanchez to scrape the three points.
The Huddersfield game was much less dramatic. Alexandre Lacazette kept up his promising November with a goal in the third minute, before he had to come off with injury at half-time. After that, the second half turned into the Mesut Özil show, as he set up two goals and scored one of his own in just four minutes.
Finally, Olivier Giroud capped off the win with his second goal, turning in a loose ball after good work from Sead Kolasinac. It finished 5-0, and for once Arsenal ended November in a better position than they’d started it. In this case that meant rising fourth place, but there were more tough tasks to come in December.