I could talk a little bit about how Robin’s got a good week extra to make a decision and an announcement on his future following Holland exit from the Euro’s. Or how Niklas Bendtner has an extra week to get himself a new club following Denmark’s exit. But we have Arsenal news today! Hooray!
Today’s news and Arsenal blogs from across the world will almost inevitably be dominated by the announcement of the upcoming 2012/13 seasons fixtures and as was predicted last night through Twitter ‘leaks’ we face Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland side at home on 18th August.
I woke up this morning and flicked on to Sky Sports News to take a look at all the fixtures and saw them running through the first day only. My first impression was that although Sunderland is by no means a three-point banker, it could have been a lot worse. I wouldn’t have fancied an Everton or Man City away on the opening weekend, that’s for sure, but a home game is great and hopefully we can start our season off with a bang against the Mackems.
Last season’s fixtures didn’t exactly start easy for us as we played a lot of the big teams early on in the season away from home and, coupled with the shocker of a summer we had in terms of transfer in’s and out’s, conspired to see us near the sharp end of the Premier League table come September. So I was hoping that when I scrolled on to Arsenal.com shortly after seeing the opening day fixtures, we’d see a host of home games early against teams we’d fancy our chances with. However, as you will all have seen already yourselves, what we’re up against is a doozy of matches, starting with Stoke away after Sunderland, Liverpool away, Southampton away, Man City away and Chelski away.
That’s four away games out of six and all against opposition we have either struggled against or are expected to be challenging for honours people. That run in is going to be really tough and could in fact define our season I think. And here’s why:
The season that Eduardo broke his leg in 2007/8 was one where Arsenal were in the hunt for the Premier League and were at one stage five points clear at the top. The Crozillian’s maiming at the feet of Martin Tailor had horrible repercussions for Arsenal’s title ambitions, as we collapsed, eventually losing out to United and finishing third. But what got us into that position of fighting for the title in the first place was the run of victories we had at the beginning of the season. That year, the fixture list for the opening games of the season fell kindly on Arsenal, as we played seven out of our first 10 matches at home (due to fixture rescheduling) and won the majority against very average teams. That enabled us to build the momentum for the rest of the season and it was only the actions of one ‘he’s not that type of’ player that derailed our season (I appreciate there were other mitigating circumstances behind our collapse, but I’m not wasting any more energy on that particular part of our history). When you compare that to last season, where the fixtures did not fall kindly for us at the beginning, it meant we were playing catch-up for the rest of the year – relying also on the capitulation of other teams around us as much as our own good end of season form.
So for me momentum and building a winning run is all important. Compare our start to Chelski’s fixtures – who have four out of six at home and play a host of winnable mid table teams – and you begin to see how we will see how our season is defined very early on. The conspiracy theorist in me loves to whisper in my ear about how Chelski, now the darlings of the league having won the Champions League, need to get off to a wining run hence their easy start. But I try to suppress that thought a little bit.
The plus side is that there will be quite a few tough away games we’ll have quickly removed from our ‘to do’ list for the rest of the year come October, which may prove useful when we reach the 2013 part of the season. And, if we’re going to look at it glass half full, a series of four/five wins out of those first six games would set us up really nicely for the rest of the season to make a proper assault on the Premier League top spot. So let’s hope for that outcome rather than the doom and gloom outlook.
One final thought which has been bought to my attention from the weekend. A number of the red tops decided to lead with Danny Welbeck as the hero. Given that Theo bought us level and then played a big part in the winning goal having come on and transformed the England teams dynamics, you’d have thought he might get a few more plaudits. Oh, wait a sec, what club teams do both play for?
Until tomorrow peeps.