New season fixtures, Walcott fit for England – AFC

Well the fixture list was revealed for the 2012/13 season, the wheels are in motion and we have our first reason to get excited about a new campaign. We really have been blessed this summer in terms of the European championships filling a massive void AND the added distraction of the London Olympics to come to further quell the football cravings.

The release of the football league fixtures is the first sign of closure from the last season and an indicator that we have it all to come again. We now have something to discuss other than the countless transfer rumours that drag on and on.

The rumours that flooded twitter and other social media networks were confirmed correct as Arsenal were scheduled to kick off the new season at the emirates against Sunderland. Shout out to RedAction for the scoop.

It’s always nice to start off the season with a home game, a chance to put three points on the board and start the season as you mean to go on. The only problem is that from the next four following games we have away fixtures against Stoke, Liverpool and Manchester city. As hard a run as you could imagine and a real test of the mettle and resolve of the Arsenal. If we can come through that test with minimum damage it can bode well for the rest of the season. Each of those three away fixtures are potential banana skins in any season so to have them out of the way early can potentially be a good thing.

We have the added bonus this season of no qualifiers for the champion’s league. That is something that really affected our start to the last season as transfers were dependant on qualification and the futures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas weren’t concluded. It was quite a mess and an embarrassment to the Arsenal that preparation to a season was so up in the air. This time around transfer business should be concluded nice and early, morale should be a lot better and no qualifiers will be in place to upset our momentum.

So what of the other fixtures? The first north London derby takes place at the Emirates on the 17th November; our chance for redemption at Old Trafford takes place on the 3rd November. I’ve always been scared of November when it comes to Arsenal; in seasons past it is usually the month when things start to wobble a bit. Last season we managed to come through unscathed but maybe it was the football gods balancing things out after our wretched start.

The Christmas holiday schedule doesn’t seem too bad with two home games leading up to the New Year. West Ham visits on Boxing Day while Newcastle visit 3 days later. The holidays conclude with a New Year’s Day trip to Southampton.

The final run in seems to contain winnable games with the exception of a home game with Manchester united set for the end of April. Of course we can beat Manchester united at home but it won’t be one of the easier games. The final fixture of the season scares me, an away trip to Newcastle. If we find ourselves in the chase for any silverware or placing needing a result at the St James Park it will be very tough. There is no guarantee Newcastle will match the heights of last season but one thing that is certain is Alan Pardew will not let his team roll over for us. Ever since his touchline spat with Arsene Wenger when at West Ham a few years back a bad feeling still exists between the managers and Pardew always ensures he gives Arsenal as much trouble as possible.

Theo Walcott was passed fit for England which is great news; I do however feel that Roy Hodgson will not start the Arsenal man against the Ukraine. Hodgson will go for the cautious approach but I will expect to see Walcott or Oxlade-chamberlain to make an appearance at some point in the game. If you are going to be neutral fans watching the game today drink some coffee and/or Red bull, it’s not going to be a pretty match.

As witnessed in the past couple nights these final group fixtures have been tense affairs, everything is at stake and so the football will be nervy and downright energy sapping. I hope for all our sakes I am wrong and the game will be an open entertaining end to end spectacle, I’m clutching at straws now.

Enjoy your day people

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