Today: two post about next season’s fixture list: first one by Marcus and then one by TotalArsenal.
This is going to be a short post, probably the shortest I have ever
written. The fixture list is out and we now have a basic idea of how
our season is going to shape up. Before I begin though, I have to ask,
why are big fixtures arranged back to back? You find that if you play
Chelsea one weekend, the next you’re pitted against City, United or
LFC. And this goes for everyone in the top four, at least over the
past couple of seasons. Weird.
Anyway, this upcoming season presents a unique opportunity in our
race for the title. This is because our first 10 games are all very
winnable, even with the squad we have now. We play Aston villa,
Fulham, Spurs at home, Sunderland, Stoke, Swansea, West Brom, Norwich,
Palace and finally LFC at home. Based on the results last season,
these are games that we should pick up 3 points. Even against Spurs,
considering for the past few seasons we have given them a 5-2 hiding
whenever they’ve visited the Emirates.
I will not even compare our fixtures with the fixtures that Chelsea,
Utd and City have because 30 points in the first 10 games would almost
certainly not only place us at the summit, but also create a
considerable gap between us and our title rivals.
This is the opportunity I was talking about.
Even with the squad we currently have, this is a very achievable goal.
Add a few top class players and you realize that this is what Wenger
should be gearing the team to achieve. The league is certainly not won
in 10 games but it would put us in very good stead to win the league.
This opportunity is extended because in the last six games, we face
Everton, West Ham, Hull, Newcastle, West Brom and conclude at Norwich.
Another run of very winnable games. A case can be made about how
Everton are no walk overs, but with their change of guard and the
possible departure of key players such as Fellaini and Baines, they
may not be the same team that has previously held their own against
the league giants.
Please bear in mind that I am not at all saying that these games will
be walk overs: not by any stretch of the imagination. I am mainly
considering our previous records against these teams. My brother
always tells me that there are no small teams in the EPL and I agree
with him fully. It being one of the most unpredictable and competitive
leagues in the world, you can NEVER underestimate anyone.
All I am saying, is that the odds are on our side and through shrewd business in
the transfer window and proper preparation, we could find ourselves in
a very enviable position come this time next year.
My optimism flows eternal.
Written by: Marcus.
The fixtures list has been announced and in order to see what it will mean for Arsenal, I am analyzing it from a number of angles: start, post inter-lull games, festive period, away up-North, congestion of top fixtures and finish.
But before doing so, I should state that the only thing that really matters is to play as if every game is as difficult and important as another. Arsenal have often been at their worst when expected to win easily and many times it has cost us dearly.
As Marcus wrote above, the start is relatively easy. It offers a good opportunity to get momentum going and accrue valuable points, and it should allow us to ease in any new top players we buy this summer. However, we have often dropped points at Fulham, Swansea and Sunderland away and we will need to be at our best to beat them. I would sign up now for 24 points from the first 10 games, especially if we can do it without losing any of the games; anything more would be even better, but I am not going to bank on it.
Post inter-lull games
The top teams often drop points when they play away after an international break, whilst they usually scrape through a win when playing at home. We play Sunderland away after the first break, and Norwich and Southampton at home during the following inter-lulls, so not too bad for us. However, we’ll play the Spuds away after the March inter-lull, which is far from ideal. This is also the first game of the most challenging period during the season for Arsenal, and it would have been a lot better if we could have started it with a home game.
In general, the top teams gain a similar number of points during the festive season. Everybody drops points as fatigue and weather conditions often take their toll. First we play the Chavs at home, which is a fine opportunity to start the festive periods with some momentum, but then it is West Ham and, a probably bitterly cold, Newcastle away, after which we play Cardiff at home. All in all, not too bad.
Last season, we had played all our away games, bar NU, by January, and in my view, this was one of the reasons we were able to finish so strongly. Arsenal were only beaten by the horrible Mancs up-North last season, but we still dropped a lot of points, especially in the North-West. This season the away fixtures are spread out over the season and at no point do we have two in a row. In February, we play Liverpool away and then three days later the Mancs at home, which is not ideal. With Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, etc all no longer in the PL, the North has less of a fear factor for us, although Hull returns to the PL this season.
Congestion of top fixtures
Everyone will have noticed the monstrous March fixtures. As per above, there is an international break after which we will play the Spuds away first, followed by Chavs (away), Northern Oilers (home) and Everton (away). I don’t like this at all and it could easily make or break our season. But, if we want to win the PL next season, we need to overcome, or at least equal, those teams during these game, whether home or away. Arsene will not like the idea that he will get his players back from the internal break just a few days before the start of this crunch-period. No doubt, this is the biggest negative of the fixtures list.
The last five games of the season are relatively easy with home games against West Ham, NU and West Brom, and away games at Hull and Norwich. However, some of these games might be against teams fighting for survival and, once again, we cannot afford to underestimate any of them.
So in a nutshell: a good chance to start well, gain momentum and embed the new players into the team; reasonable fixtures during the festive period, two home and two away games after the international breaks, a monstrous second half of March, and a doable finish.
What do you make of it all fine, fellow Gooners?
Written by TotalArsenal.
Full Arsenal Fixtures List:
17 Aston Villa (H)
24 Fulham (A)
31 Tottenham (H)
14 Sunderland (A)
21 Stoke (H)
28 Swansea (A)
5 West Brom (A)
19 Norwich (H)
26 Crystal Palace (A)
2 Liverpool (H)
9 Man Utd (A)
23 Southampton (H)
30 Cardiff (A)
3 Hull (H)
7 Everton (H)
14 Man City (A)
21 Chelsea (H)
26 West Ham (A)
28 Newcastle (A)
1 Cardiff (H)
11 Aston Villa (A)
18 Fulham (H)
28 Southampton (A)
1 Crystal Palace (H)
8 Liverpool (A)
11 Man Utd (H)
22 Sunderland (H)
1 Stoke (A)
8 Swansea (H)
15 Tottenham (A)
22 Chelsea (A)
29 Man City (H)
5 Everton (A)
12 West Ham (H)
19 Hull (A)
26 Newcastle (H)
3 West Brom (H)
11 Norwich (A)