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Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this year’s soccer schedule is an unprecedented challenge. Thanks to a winter World Cup in Qatar, there isn’t much downtime. If you’re a club playing in a European competition, having at least two games every week is simply the reality. That currently seems to be taking its toll on Arsenal.

While things are still looking pretty good in both the Premier League and Europa League group tables, the Gunners have come off the boil a bit. They’ve ground out some 1-0 wins, drew at Southampton, and then lost away to PSV. The squad looks tired, and at a certain point, a few iffy performances start to become a worrying trend.

With all of that being said, though, Mikel Arteta’s men are now staring down a gift from the soccer gods. Yes, the next two matches will come without much rest, but they’ll also provide a perfect opportunity to right the ship.

Arsenal will have three matches in a week, but the first two are against easier opposition

After a hot start to the season, the Thursday-Sunday grind seems to be taking its toll on Arsenal. Right now, though, that quick turnaround could be a blessing in disguise.

Despite the club’s strong overall record, it’s safe to say confidence is probably a bit low right now. The attack, which was flowing earlier this year, has gotten a bit stagnant. The defense is still solid, but that unit is having to do more and more work. Even the supporters, who were partying for much of the early season, now have a little doubt in their collective minds.

It’s in that context that Nottingham Forest comes to the Emirates. On one hand, it could be a recipe for disaster. How many times have Arsenal fans seen their side huff and puff to break down a weaker team at home, only to concede on the counter-attack? When you consider Arsenal’s collective confidence and Dean Henderson’s form in the Forest goal, that certainly seems like a possibility.

Granit Xhaka leads Arsenal off the pitch after a defeat against PSV.
Arsenal players walk off the pitch after losing 2-0 to PSV. | Visionhaus/Getty Images

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At the same time, though, it could be a gift to face the current cellar-dwellers at home at this exact point in time. While no game in the Premier League is easy, this could be something of a metaphorical security blanket for Arsenal. If they come out on Sunday, put in a strong performance, and secure a comfortable win, everything will feel good again. Put a few goals away, and you’ll almost remember how to score again. Keep a clean sheet, and that muscle memory comes back.

The same can be said for Thursday’s date against Zurich. Is it ideal to have to play the starters on Matchday 6 when everyone could have had a stress-free day off? Of course not, but there’s something to be said for making the best of a bad situation. Should the Gunners come out and cruise to a 3-0 lead before halftime, things will feel pretty good. Arteta can then make some subs, and everyone can go through the motions for the second 45 before going home on a positive note.

On Sunday, November 6, Arsenal face Chelsea in a big London derby. That match will be the Gunners’ third in a week; that reality can’t change. At this point, it’s about making the best of the opportunities presented.

Right now, confidence is low. If things can’t turn around against Nottingham Forest and FC Zurich, then there are bigger problems at the Emirates than fatigue.

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