“I am pleased to hear that because they called us the ‘Black November’ team for years. But at the moment we are on a good run so maybe the months don’t matter too much.
“What is at stake now is the consistency of our attitude. We have to bring that into every game.
“We are out of November, we are in December but the schedule is very heavy and mentally very demanding so that needs a lot of focus. I believe that our next game will be decided by that.”
That was Arsène Wenger’s response to being told he has just led his Arsenal side to their best November since 2005.
A run of five wins in six games with only one goal conceded has put them clear in the Premier League and in control of Champions League Group F.
It is still not enough for some it seems.
|Arsenal: Sagna (hamstring), Diaby (knee), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Podolski (hamstring), Sanogo (back), Ryo (hamstring)
Hull City: Davies (suspended), Aluko (Achilles), Quinn (hamstring), McShane (hamstring) Brady (groin)
The suggestion from certain observers is that Arsenal’s domestic position is false as nine of their 13 games have come against teams in the bottom of the table. Wenger is hardly fussed given that the perception of his side seems to be gradually turning 180 degrees while their position in the table stays static - and Arsenal are now approaching three months at the top.
“The difference in the table between being seventh or 12th is not very big and the difference in quality between seven or 12th is not very big. [At this stage] sometimes it's about one game and you can only play the fixtures as it has been decided. For example a team like Cardiff at the weekend, they have done very well against the big teams.
“That’s why we look at it a little bit in a different way. We say 'we go away from home so how have they done against the other teams and how well can we do?'”
Hull are about as hit-and-miss as you can get right now. Steve Bruce will be satisfied with 10th place but in the last month they have won and lost against top-four sides (Liverpool and Southampton respectively) and bottom-three sides (Sunderland and Crystal Palace).
Playing newly-promoted sides before Christmas is a dangerous affair for title contenders. You only have to go back to Hull's stunning 2-1 win at Emirates on September 27, 2008 to prove that. But it also shows the quality of that controlled win in Wales at the weekend.
"They come to places like Arsenal with nothing to lose and they’ll test how much we want it"
The top two in the Championship last season took different policies in strengthening for the top flight. Cardiff spent sizeable money on a few key areas while Hull made numerous purchases for smaller money. Wenger feels it is working for them.
“It's fantastic what Hull have done,” he said. “Their style of play is dynamic and I believe they will be a big opponent for us because they can go away from home without any restriction at the moment.
“They come to places like Arsenal with nothing to lose and they’ll test how much we want it, to see if they can have a chance or not to get some points so that's why the key certainly is our attitude.
“We have a good opportunity. We have come back with a great result at Cardiff. It is important we continue against Hull, then after that Everton - these are two big home games for us.”
Then before Christmas comes Napoli (a), Manchester City (a) and Chelsea (h).
November maybe been successfully negotiated but December is potentially decisive.
Arsenal may be top but the tests don’t stop. Their increasingly solid title credentials mean Wenger’s men are there to be shot at.
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.