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Arsenal December 2018 fixtures preview

Can Arsenal continue their unbeaten streak in the most congested month of the season?

Arsenal FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Ah, December. An ember to dismember.

December is the festive cold month before the suffocating weight of the winter dread fully onsets and the joy and merriment of food and drink gives way to the dreary blight and fully obvious health impacts of previous months that develop after New Years Day. Who else is looking forward to January?!

So yeah, I’m suggesting you enjoy the hell out of December, friend. Our Arsenal are now three months on without losing a game, and the sheer fixture congestion of December suggests that’s going to be quite difficult to sustain.

Merriment ahoy!

v. Tottenham - Sunday, December 2 (PL)

Current position and record: 3rd, 10-0-3 (30 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 0, Tottenham 1
Current form in all competitions: W-W-W-W-W

I could write 1,000 words on this match alone. Instead, I will just request from the great Fūjin, the Shinto god of the wind, to give us his blessing. I’m getting pretty deep in my list of deities to request support from.

@ Manchester United - Wednesday, December 5 (PL)

Current position and record: 7th, 6-3-4 (21 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 1, Man U 2
Current form in all competitions: W-D-L-W-W

Man U’s start to the season has been, by Man U standards, dreadful. Fans are asking what those standards even are anymore. The search for a new manager is on in earnest among the fan base while they lament the status of their ownership. Hey, this sounds familiar!

I have to point out the sheer proximity of these two huge fixtures. The congestion this month is ridiculous, and it starts here with two matches in four days and keeps going.

Oh, and if you were looking to see how Alexis Sánchez would perform against his old team, look not. Alexis injured his hamstring this week and will be out for more than a month.

v. Huddersfield Town - Saturday, December 8 (PL)

Current position and record: 16th, 2-4-7 (10 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 1, Huddersfield 0 (sniff)
Current form in all competitions: W-D-W-L-L

A comfortable fixture albeit with fatigue issues at play. This could be an opportunity to get Premier League minutes for some of the reserves. Which I guess means I’m talking about Aaron Ramsey.

New era and all.

v. FK Qarabağ - Thursday, December 13 (EL)

Current group position and record: 4th, 1-0-4 (3 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 3, Qarabağ 0
Current form in all competitions: L-D-W-W-W

Currybog. Careabout. Queriedborg. Korabosh. For us less-than-worldly Westerners, Pronouncing Qarabağ is kind of like a choose your own adventure book. How would you like to say it? That’s now the official pronunciation.

Arsenal are already through to the knockout round (draw to be held December 17, games to be played in mid-February), as the top seed, by virtue of their head to head record against Sporting CP. Sporting could finish level on points with the Gunners, but in the Europa League, it’s not goal difference but head-to-head record between tied teams that is the first tiebreaker. Arsenal beat and drew Sporting, so even if they finish level on points, Arsenal win the group.

As this will be the fourth game in 12 days, you’d have to think Arsenal manager Unai Emery is going to rest several members of his top XI. We could also look to the most recent Europa game against Vorskla where Carl Jenkinson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joseph Willock and even Emile Smith-Rowe start. That lineup, and the scoreline, gave an opportunity to sub in Zech Medley, Bukayo Saka and Charlie Gilmour. So this could be another game to play the kids.

One other random note is that this is the home leg of this tie. No trips to Azerbaijan. So while the fixture list is heavily congested, the travel itinerary isn’t.

@ Southampton - Sunday, December 16 (PL)

Current position and record: 19th, 1-5-7 (8 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 3, Soton 2
Current form in all competitions: W-D-L-W-W

And with that said, off to Soton!

The Saints have had an absolutely dreadful start to the campaign and find themselves sincerely in the relegation fight having barely escaped last season, their sixth in a row in the Premier League.

Much like the Huddersfield game a week and a day prior, this one may be a Premier League game to include a switch or two in the lineup for stamina’s sake especially considering how unique the next game is...

v. Tottenham - Wednesday, December 19 (Carabao)

Previous meeting: Arsenal 0, Tottenham 1
Current form in all competitions: W-W-W-W-W

The quarterfinals of the Carabao (also how you pronounce Qarabağ) Cup. Does the team or Emery care enough to treat this like an unCarabao match? Last round against Blackpool, we saw a starting lineup with Smith Rowe and Maitland-Niles and even Julio Pleguezuelo who was making his debut. Is that the kind of side we’ll see against Sp*rs even if it is the Carabao?

v. Burnley - Saturday, December 22 (PL)

Current position and record: 18th, 2-3-8 (9 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 5, Burnley 0
Current form in all competitions: L-D-L-L-L

Last year’s seventh place finish was a huge jump for Burnley as their highest finish ever in the table in four seasons in the Premier League. They’ve been far off the mark this season.

This is one of the two super early starts for Arsenal this year. Not sure that makes a difference, but just a random aside.

@ Brighton & Hove Albion - Wednesday, December 26 (PL)

Current position and record: 12th, 4-3-6 (15 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 1, Brighton 2
Current form in all competitions: D-L-L-W-W


Brighton & Hove Albion (also how you pronounce Qarabağ) has played pretty well this season. I know they’re in the bottom half of the table, but Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham account for three of their six losses and the Liverpool and Tottenham games were just lost by just one goal. And they beat Manchester United (somewhat easily, I’d suggest) back in August, so this one might be less of a pushover than one might assume given this is just Brighton’s second season in the Premier League in history.

Despite the challenge, this one will also provide an opportunity to rotate the lineup because of what looms...

@ Liverpool - Saturday, December 29 (PL)

Current position and record: 2nd, 10-3-0 (33 points)
Previous meeting: Arsenal 1, Liverpool 1
Current form in all competitions: L-W-W-L-D

November was not kind to Jürgen Klopp’s men.

It started with a fantastic match against our Arsenal that ended in a draw but limped moreso because of two defeats in the Champions League group stage that could see the runners up fail to reach the knockout stage.

The question here is what the league table looks like going into this one. December is packed with so many games that the Premier League on December 29 could look very different than it does today. Whatever the circumstances, the table will set up the narrative. Will Liverpool have fallen back a bit? Will Arsenal have climbed into the top 4? Will Manchester City have dipped and allowed Liverpool into 1st place? WILL ARSENAL HAVE RACED PAST EVERYONE TO THE TOP OF THE LEAGUE?!?!?! Ok, that last one is probably an impossibility, but time will tell.

This will be the seventh Premier League game of the month. That’s 21 possible points upcoming before New Year’s Day. Rest looms in January, though the FA Cup will add a match and a potential semifinal round game in the Carabao would further fill up the calendar.

Still, it’s a pivotal month given the opportunities in front of Arsenal and the way the last three months have gone.

Into winter...