Arsene Wenger made a conscious decision at the beginning of the season to play a completely different second-string Arsenal side in the Europa League games in the Group Stages, and to save our first-choice line-up purely to play in the Premier League games, which is his Number One priority in this campaign.
Now we are entering December, and the Arsenal starting XI have played 5 intense midweek games less than every single other rival in the Top Six, as all of them have had tough Champions League matches to contend with. These extra games are now taking the toll on our rivals with Tottenham being the first to succumb to fatigue with their defeat at Leicester last night, and it may have helped us to defeat them in the North London Derby the week before as well.
Believe me, December is the month where our extra fitness will come into play as you can see on the fixture list that the Gunners have 10 games to play (starting today) until the end of December. It is a gruelling schedule that will test everyone’s squad limits to the full. After tonight’s home match against Huddersfield we have….
Saturday 2nd December PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal v Manchester United
Thursday 7th December EUROPA LEAGUE Arsenal v BATE Borisov
Sunday 10th December PREMIER LEAGUE Southampton v Arsenal
Wednesday 13th December PREMIER LEAGUE West Ham v Arsenal
Saturday 16th December PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal v Newcastle United
Tuesday 19th December EFL CUP QUARTER-FINAL Arsenal v West Ham United
Friday 22nd December PREMIER LEAGUE Arsenal v Liverpool
Thursday 28th December PREMIER LEAGUE Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Sunday 31st December PREMIER LEAGUE West Brom v Arsenal
All of our rivals have Champions League games next Tuesday and Wednesday, while we will play our reserve side again against BATE, giving us yet another boost. One added side effect is that when we DO have injuries or suspensions, we can call on players that have been playing regularly in our minor games so they should be fitter and ready to step into the first team if needed.
December is a crucial month in every EPL season, but this time around the Gunners can face it with a massive advantage. We will certainly know more about everyone’s title chances by the beginning of the New Year. We have every reason to believe we will be moving closer to the top every week….