Halloween is right around the corner, and with it, the end of Arsenal’s brutal October schedule. The Gunners’ Dr. Jekyll start faded into a Mr. Hyde series of poor performances last week that saw the Gunners’ seven match winning streak across all competitions come to an end away to Southampton last weekend in a frustrating draw.
Mikel Arteta’s side were further haunted when they lost at PSV Eindhoven in a ghoulish Thursday night Europa League match where Arsenal failed to create any meaningful threat all night.
Awful Halloween jokes aside, Arsenal have not quite been their usual dominant selves for the last few matches. Some of them can be chalked up to fixture fatigue, but other issues have begun to creep in - finishing troubles, injuries, and limited rotation all have reared their ugly heads at various times.
The poor run of form has also coincided with a long stretch of road trips. After opening the month with three straight home wins, the Gunners have only been back at the Emirates once since defeating Liverpool on the 9th of October. Four away matches from the last five are tough for any team, even the Premier League leaders.
Finally, mercifully, Arsenal return to The Emirates to take on bottom of the table Nottingham Forest, with Mikel Arteta undoubtedly eager to get his team back on the winning side of things after the first winless run of matches all season.
Forest’s return to the Premier League saw them celebrate their promotion by practically flipping their entire roster, adding 22 transfers to their team during the summer. Yes. 22. While they’ve brought in some recognizable names like Jesse Lingard and Dean Henderson, the overhaul hasn’t rendered results yet - only Wolves have scored less goals (5) than Forest (8) this season.
While this is Forest’s first foray into the Premier League in over 20 years, you don’t have to look too far into the past for the last time Arsenal and Forest met. Since 2016, the Gunners and Nottingham Forest have played 4 matches between the FA Cup and the League Cup with 2 wins apiece. It was Forest, though, that last came out on top, when Arsenal trotted out all white kits during a limp FA Cup loss last season.
We don’t need to spend too much time waxing poetic about this season’s Arsenal. At their best, they flow in the attack with ease like a hot knife through butter and defend with resolute calmness. At their worst, they still look like a team with an identity. The fact that they don’t fold into a pile of damp rags when pushed up against it like previous season is honestly remarkable.
For injury news and lineup discussions, check out Nathan’s article.
For all of last week’s frustrations, the fact remains that Arsenal have been an elite side this season. Whether it was tired legs, complacency, or an inability to tactically adjust, Arsenal are far better than the level of play that allowed Southampton back into the game last weekend or PSV to run all over them on Thursday. The quality of the Gunners cannot be denied, but with a huge match with Chelsea next week, they need to show that quality with more confidence and urgency.
Back at home in front of the raucous Emirates crowd, there is no better chance for the Gunners to find their footing and get back to winning. To quote the timeless luminary Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine: “What better place than here? What better time than now?”
WHO: Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest
WHEN: Sunday, October 30th 10:00am EST/7:00am PST/3:00pm BST
WHERE: The Emirates Stadium, London
HOW TO WATCH: Live on the USA Network. Streaming live on NBCSports.com
For all your international streaming needs, check LiveSoccerTV.com. Please do not discuss or share links to illegal streams here.