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Arsenal October 2016 Preview: The Calm Before The Storm

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Since the month is nearly half done, let’s preview Arsenal’s schedule.

Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger
Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

It’s October 12. Why are we previewing Arsenal’s October slate? Because that is how we do things around here, friend. Don’t push it or we’ll go ahead and preview September and 2015 and the Sebastian Squillaci signing.

I ain’t playin wit yall.

@ Burnley - Sunday, October 2 (PL)

Current position and record: 13th, 2-1-3 (7 pts)
Previous meeting: N/A
Last five meetings for Arsenal (PL): N/A-D-W-W-W
Current form: W-L-D-L-W

Well, this one’s just gonna get chalked up to the delay. The game itself was...whatever. We got the points. Onward and upward.

Now for actual previewing of unplayed games...

v. Swansea - Saturday, October 15 (PL)

Current position and record: 17th, 1-1-5 (4 pts)
Previous meeting: N/A
Last five meetings for Arsenal (PL): D-L-L-W-L
Current form: L-D-L-L-L

Yes, one win out of the last five meetings is imperfect. Time to change that. Swansea are in a rough patch taking just one point in their last six games.

Of course the big news for the Swans is the appointment of Bob Bradley as manager, the first American to hold the position in any of the major European leagues. Since coaching the USMNT from 2006-11, Bradley took over the Egyptian National Team before heading to club soccer with stints at Stabæk in the Tippeligaen and Le Havre in Ligue 2.

Perhaps the surprise on Swansea’s front has been the lack of goals. They’ve managed just six goals in their first seven contests despite adding MF Leroy Fer, ST Fernando Llorente and record-breaking signing ST Borja in the summer window.

It’ll be a familiar sight for Arsenal with Swansea GK Łukasz Fabiański in goal.

Swans are certainly susceptible at the back, so there’s reason to expect more output than what we saw against Burnley.

v. Ludogorets - Wednesday, October 19 (UCL)

Table position and record: 4th, 0-1-1
Previous meeting: N/A
Current form: W-W-W-L-W

Ludogorets are a young club founded just 15 years ago in Bulgaria’s top league, the Parva Liga. Despite their recency, they’ve taken the league in the last five seasons displacing the previous power structure between CSKA Sofia and Levski Sofia.

That’s about all I know about Ludogorets. That and they have a live eagle mascot named Fortuna that Lazio gave them:

Ludogorets' mascot, Fortuna
WAR DAMN EAGLE

Shield your eyes, Gunnersaurus.

v. Middlesbrough - Saturday, October 22 (PL)

Current position and record: 16th, 1-3-3 (6 pts)
Previous meeting: N/A
Last five meetings for Arsenal (PL): D-L-D-D-W
Current form: D-L-L-L-D

THE SMOGGIES ARE BACK IN THE PREM! This is some throwback ish here. Memories of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink...

This isn’t your dad’s Middlesbrough (I finally found a way to make that sentence real).

Boro puffed up their goalkeeper depth chart with Víctor Valdés and Brad Guzan. The stiffened the back line with Antonio Barragán and a loaned-out Calum Chambers. And you can do worse as a newly promoted side than Álvaro Negredo as your striker of choice.

So yes, they’re still acclimating to the Premier League, but there’s an awful lot of talent there for a team in the bottom quarter of the table.

v. Reading - Tuesday, October 25 (EFLC)

Previous meeting: N/A
Last five meetings for Arsenal (CC): N/A-N/A-N/A-W-W
Current form: W-W-W-L-D

I honestly am at a loss for words. This shouldn't have been necessary - Reading are a team that we should be beating 3-0, not 7-5, and sure as hell shouldn't ever be 4-0 up on Arsenal - but in retrospect, it was a pretty cool experience. Not something I'd like to go through again, but I sure won't forget it soon.

@ Sunderland - Saturday, October 29 (PL)

Current position and record: 20th, 0-2-5 (2 pts)
Previous meeting: N/A
Last five meetings for Arsenal (PL): W-W-D-W-D
Current form: L-L-W-L-D

Sunderland are just too much. David Moyes. Lee Cattermole. John O’Shea. Adnan Januzaj. Jermaine Dafoe. DON VITO.

There’s too much going there at one time for me to handle by myself.

What say you, Watford striker Troy Deeney?

Troy Deeney
Happy, happy, joy, joy

Oh good.

Summary

Five games in two weeks. That’s a tight fixture crunch.

Luckily, Arsenal are looking solid on the health front heading into this run. Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin look close to return leaving just Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker as the only components out injured.

The quality of opposition certainly suggests that Arsenal could come out of October on a positive run on all fronts: remaining in the mix at the top of the league table, progressing in the league cup and stacking up more points in Group A.

Arsenal will need as much with a much, much tougher November ahead: two Champions League matches including a crucial home tie against PSG coupled with three Premier League games of Sp*rs, Man U and Bournemouth.

Tighten the belt, fam.