Fan View: Arsenal facing crucial period upon return

Starting off with Brentford away, Arsenal play eight Premier League games and two Champions League games to round out 2023 as they look to remain in the title race and seal top spot in their European group.

The only points that the Gunners have dropped in the Champions League were against Lens, and matchday five will provide a chance to get revenge and secure top spot before the final game away to PSV.

Closing the deal against Lens would help to refocus on the Premier League over the winter period while allowing Mikel Arteta to rotate more in the final game.

The Gunners’ pragmatic style with four centre-backs, when Takehiro Tomiyasu plays left-back, and two defensive-minded midfield players is well suited to the Champions League, and qualifying first in the group should set them up well for a good run in the knockout stages.

As part of the league run, Arsenal face away trips to fifth-placed Aston Villa and second-placed Liverpool, where last season’s title fight began to break down.

Points in those games would leave the Gunners in a strong position to keep pace with rivals Manchester City and Liverpool ahead of the January transfer window.

Picking up 18 points from a possible 24 before the new year would constitute a successful winter period and would likely keep Arsenal at the business end of the Premier League standings.

Having been hit hard by injuries already, getting to January still in the race would be a big boost, giving Arteta a chance to strengthen with reinforcements.

Another factor in Arsenal’s season is that they still don’t look like they’ve clicked going forward yet, especially when Kai Havertz plays in midfield.

So the longer the Gunners can hang with the frontrunners the more chance they have of catching them up once the attack gets figured out.
Arsenal players will be returning from international duty across the globe – with Declan Rice playing all of England’s 1-1 draw in North Macedonia on Monday, while Bukayo Saka completed 84 minutes – to begin their winter run-in with a trip across London to Brentford on Saturday (5.30pm), before hosting RC Lens on Wednesday (8pm). 

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