How will fixture list play out for Gunners?

The fixtures for the 2013-14 season were released yesterday to give football fans something to take their mind off the supposed impending transfers. The buzz about players coming in has dominated the social media world of Arsenal fans as with each day a new name gets linked to the club. It is certainly refreshing that the fixture list managed to bring the fans back together.

fixtures

So what does the fixture list mean for the Arsenal? Did you find it reasonable or is there a hidden agenda by the F.A in collaboration with Sky TV to ensure the most lucrative games at certain times of the season?

I suppose at the end of the day you have to play every team twice so there is only so much that can harm your teams chances. Win more games than everyone else and you win the league no matter when you play. Wishful thinking from an Arsenal fan but personally the shift of management over at Manchester United has certainly given a boost to everyone in the premier league.

So what does the fixture list look like for Arsenal? We have the luxury of an opening home tie, certainly winnable against Aston Villa. One would think Villa would solve many of their problems of last season and so the game cannot be taken lightly. Last season Sunderland looked like lambs to the slaughter yet left the emirates with a point which should be something the Arsenal players should remember.

Quite significant next season is how soon the 1st north London derby occurs; Tottenham will be visitors to the Emirates in the Gunners 3rd game of the season. The timing of the game isn’t ideal in terms of it following the second leg of the Champion’s League qualifier. If Arsenal hasn’t strolled the 1st leg and find themselves in a position where qualification hangs on the 2nd leg result it could lead to fatigued players, hopefully that doesn’t affect the performance against Spurs.

Another thing to note is that the Spurs game is the last before the transfer window closes. Will Arsene do all his business early meaning there’s no last minute rush for players or will there be no knee-jerk reaction to the result of the spurs game? Time will tell.

November which is usually reserved for the North London derby in turn welcomes Robin Van Persie’s Man United to the Emirates. Set for Saturday 9th which I am sure will be moved to a slot more suitable to Sky Sports.

In the holidays Arsenal has an away trip to West Ham on Boxing Day and then they host Cardiff on New Year’s Day.  Winnable I suppose despite games against Chelsea and Newcastle sandwiched in between.

The toughest month for the Gunners I would say is March; tough away games to Stoke and Swansea, followed by matches against Spurs, Chelsea, Man City and then away to Everton in April. That run of games will certainly define Arsenal’s season, damage limitation is of the highest order taking into account potential last 16 ties in the Champion’s League to further the pressure.

The run in is not too bad providing March goes well, there is still an away game to Norwich to finish the season however I do not envisage a 3rd last day standoff with Tottenham. I feel we will kick on in the coming season, I expect serious business will be done for next season and the new players will improve the quality, performances and results for the Arsenal.

Enjoy your day people.

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Long summer will feel even longer for Arsenal fans

‘Arsenal’ and ‘Transfer Speculation’ are certainly two phrases that are never far apart from each other, the summers have become one of irritation and frustration for Gooners over the years as the ins and outs occupy the long days which lead up to the new season. Transfers affect football fans of all teams however the annual media heavy speculation over which big star would leave Arsenal for pastures new has become so regular that it would often take the focus off of the targets that would come into the club.

This summer hasn’t followed the trend, no big players are rumoured to be leaving and so surely Arsenal fans should relax, kick back and enjoy a stress free season break? Wrong.  You take away the stresses of the ‘will he won’t he leave’ scenario and it will only lead to an increased focus on who is coming in to strengthen the team.

jack wilshere hols

Football players get a holiday when the season ends, they welcome a chance to forget everything football related and let their hair down. They deserve it, well… most of them, a football season is physically and mentally challenging, it requires 100% effort at all times if a player wants to gain all they can in their careers and so it is important to make the most of their time off. Football fans can’t afford that luxury; we don’t switch off from being football fans for 2 months. We need our fix and the next best thing to watching our teams play is evaluating the goings on with the acquisition of new personnel to the ranks. Days without football in between seasons are long and drawn out, we find solace in watching things like the U-21 European Championships or the upcoming Confederations Cup but they are never an adequate substitution for the domestic football we all hold close to our hearts.

we signed anyone yet...?

we signed anyone yet…?

New signings bring back the excitement fix, they are like a nicotine patch to fans and before the ink has even dried on the new guy’s contract we are already fixating on who is next in. This will continue until that transfer window closes, and Arsenal fans being ever the pessimist would be forgiven for believing no signings will be made until the final day of the transfer window. But things changed last week, not just for the fans but for the press too, a change that will magnify the expectations tenfold.

When Ivan Gazidis spoke last week of Arsenal’s new found funds available to compete in the market with the other big clubs it potentially opened up a whole new can or worms. Because now the club has given the press licence to link it with players that in the past were probably deemed out of financial reach.  Within hours of Gazidis statement the big names were linked with Arsenal: Rooney, Higuain, Fellaini, Fabregas, Jovetic you name it. The reports had evolved from Arsenal eyeing up certain names to Arsenal having reached advanced negotiations to sign the players, all in one weekend immediately after Gazidis’s words.

higuain

A long summer is now going to seem even longer. The potential signings are now limitless, some of the names mentioned so far I would love at the club but many of them will have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The rumours surrounding Fellaini, Jovetic and Fabregas have already been knocked down a peg. We will have to wait and see which players will come in. I believe there will be marquee signings, patience is the key as the transfer window doesn’t even officially open until the end of this month. Somehow we need to revert back to expecting Yaya Sanogo to join and take each day as it comes otherwise our heads will explode from anticipation before the new season kicks in.

Enjoy your day people.

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The wing it is for Theo next season.

With the football season done, as much as the fans despise international friendlies the game between England and Brazil was a welcome exception to the rule. The Arsenal interest much like the game against Republic of Ireland came in the form of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Given the mounting rumours of a done deal the Arsenal interest could be extended to that of Brazil number one Julio Cesar. Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the bench however the game was an opportunity for fans to see Theo Walcott in a more offensive potentially central attacking role for England against a top quality side. Roy Hodgson opted for a three up top formation meaning Theo played in a role he was familiar playing at Arsenal. Roy Hodgson did allow him freedom to drift inside to support Rooney and he also swapped flanks throughout the game with James Milner.

Overall I believe the performance of Theo Walcott showcased the argument that he is not ready to take on a central striking role for Arsenal next season. Not meaning that he can never play there for Arsenal, he can be certainly terrorise certain teams with his pace and it will be a case of Arsene doing his homework on the choosing the right teams to utilise Theo’s pace against in a central role.

In yesterday’s game it is a fair conclusion to state that Walcott played well below his devastating best. With the game finely poised against top quality opposition with no need to commit men forward Theo was faced with receiving the ball with men behind the ball and he struggled to make use of the ball when he had it. It’s in games like this you need your forward to show strength and composure on the ball, be able to hold up the ball and bring others into play instead Theo’s play was hurried, his control was off and on too many occasions he ran into blind alleys. He did manage one clear chance which was superbly saved by the keeper; the angle was closed down and would have required good fortune for the ball to squirm its way in.

theo brazil

Nerves may have certainly played a big part in Theo’s game however it’s the big games you want your big players to step up to the mark, that’s what sets them apart from the rest. Theo has had a good season for Arsenal, the stats speak for themselves and this article is in no way an attack on the abilities of Theo Walcott. However it is a reflection on how Arsenal needs to do business this summer to bring in a specialist centre forward to share the load and create competition with Olivier Giroud next season.

Arsene wenger cannot go into the new season stating the squad has sufficient cover with players that can play in the central role such as Theo and Gervinho. The signs were there yesterday in the Brazil game of what is lacking in Theo Walcott’s game before he can make the full on transition to Thierry Henry mark II.

In my opinion the wing is still the best option, playing with talented playmakers’ that can pick him out when flying up the flanks. Until Walcott sharpens up the parts of his game that do not require pace he may have to wait a while before the fans and the manager take his claims for a central role more seriously.

Meanwhile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored a fantastic goal when he came on in the second half at a time when England were trailing and looking devoid of any spark to get back into the game. His brilliant snap-shot squeezed past the outstretched arm of Cesar and into the back of the net to take the game to 1-1. He clearly enjoyed his moment on the pitch and showcased his potential to score a goal out of nothing with his equalizer; an attribute that will be very welcome next season at the Emirates. He has signed off from his second season stutter with a screamer, the perfect tonic to take with him onto next season and hit the ground running.

Enjoy your day people.

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