Arsene Wenger believes a true test to Arsenal’s title credentials will take place in November, when his side shoehorns in six fixtures including European excursions and what should be a couple of high-octane rivalry wrangles.
The Gunners share top spot with Manchester City and Liverpool on 23 points, while Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur remain within a win of leapfrogging them. Matches against Spurs and Manchester United feature over the coming month, with a big Champions League clash against Paris Saint-Germain also on the horizon.
It’s a spate of tests that follows 10 points taken from four straight meetings with clubs hailing from the bottom half of the Premier League.
“We now have a difficult November. By the end of the November we’ll know more about ourselves,” Wenger told The Mirror’s Simon Bird.
“I believe we are more mature than previous seasons, yes, but that’s what we want to show over a longer distance, and that’s what is at stake.”
Arsenal has approached the festive period with damaging form in the past, such as the two draws and a loss collected in the league last November, and back-to-back defeats to Swansea City and Manchester United in the same month of the 2014-15 campaign.
This year, however, the added depth and grit that Arsenal been showing has given rise to a belief that maybe this could be the club’s greatest shot at a title since its last triumph in 2004. But Wenger is refusing to be drawn into such excitement after 10 outings.
“We have a great togetherness and we have quality as well, so they are good ingredients, but we have to show that we can do it week in, week out,” he continued.
“(Saturday’s 4-1 win at Sunderland) strengthens our belief that we can bounce back from the disappointing result we had last week (0-0 home draw with Middlesbrough) and that we can also bounce back within a game when it doesn’t go our way.
“Overall I believe it can convince the team that we’re playing the right way.”
Arsenal’s potentially troublesome November begins with Tuesday’s trip to Bulgaria’s Ludogorets in the Champions League, before next Sunday’s north London derby against Spurs at the Emirates Stadium.