The first month and a half of the season perhaps couldn’t have gone any worse for Arsenal, as they won only two of their first seven Premier League matches and suffered defeats at the hands of Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham.
However, the last month and half perhaps couldn’t have gone any better for the Gunners, as they’re on a five-match win streak in the Premier League and with Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, have sewn up top spot in their Champions League group.
Can they keep the hot streak going into the new year? Momentum and confidence are certainly on their side, but it won’t be an easy ride.
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Arsenal in the Premier League
By virtue of their five wins on the trot, Arsenal are back in the thick of the race for a place in the top four. And if their fine form continues and a few results elsewhere go their way, they could find themselves back in the title race at the start of the new year.
There’s a good chance that it will indeed continue, as the Gunners’ slate for the next several weeks is a favorable one.
That being said, there are a few tests that will help determine just how good of a position Arsenal are heading into the second half of the season. First, Arsenal go to Manchester for a Sunday showdown with Premier League leaders City on 18th December, with the match kicking off at 4:10 pm BST.
Roberto Mancini’s side is currently 12 points ahead of seventh-placed Arsenal, but before the Gunners come to town, City have to deal with a couple of tough away ties against Liverpool and Chelsea.
If Arsenal can make it through December with their hopes and ambitions still very much intact, they must ensure that they don’t trip at the first hurdle that 2012 offers up, a tricky away tie against Fulham on 2 January, with kickoff at 5:30 pm BST.
The Cottagers have been poor in the Premier League thus far, perhaps due to the added workload of Europa League football, but there’ve been some unpleasant visits to Craven Cottage for the Gunners in recent seasons, so even if Arsenal do come away with the three points, it likely won’t be a stroll.
Arsenal in the Champions League
With their win over Dortmund, Arsenal not only clinched a place in the round of 16, they also clinched top spot in Group E. It’s worth noting that they’re the only English team who will go into the final group matchday breathing easy, as Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea all positioned precariously.
Still, the Gunners’ group finale on 6 December, an away match against Olympiakos that kicks off at 7:45 pm BST, won’t be taken lightly, even if they have no round of 16-related worries to deal with.
There’s no doubt that Arsene Wenger would like to see his side finish the group stage unbeaten and on a high, and Marseille and Borussia Dortmund, who face off in Dortmund on matchday six, would no doubt like to see Arsenal put their best foot forward in Greece. Marseille surprisingly lost at home against Olympiakos on Wednesday, which leaves both second place and the Europa League consolation prize up for grabs heading into the final round of matches.
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