It doesn’t feel like a week seems to go by without something devastating going on in the UK at the moment, so once again we are all left saddened by the loss of life from the tower Block fire near Westfield shopping centre in West London. To hear stories of people throwing themselves out of windows is horrifying and I just hope that there are less fatalities than the police are expecting. Fingers crossed and condolences to those who have lost loved ones.
With all of this stuff happening, writing about Arsenal feels a little trivial if I’m honest, but it’s what I do every morning and as long as I can keep doing it, then I need to be thankful that I can because on days like today life feels all the more precious.
So it is then, that the fixtures came out yesterday and, whilst I didn’t get the exact dream scenario that I’d hoped for from yesterday’s blog, I must say we can be quite pleased with the overall fixtures. There are still some tricky periods in the season, but these are thankfully not massive, so the hope is that if we do stumble at any time we’ll be able to get back on the horse quickly.
The start of the season is tricky though. Stoke, Liverpool and Chelski away in the first five games means that home matches against Leicester and Bournemouth simply must be victories, because you’d expect us to drop some points there. Liverpool will have just come off the back of their Champions League knockout game and you have to hope they’ll be away to a team in the middle of nowhere, because if they are anything like last season then they’ll have more energy than us when it all kicks off in August. So having them potentially playing three days before us in the CL might actually do us a favour. I know, I know, famous last words and all that.
Stoke away before then will be hard though, as will the game against Chelski in mid September, but after that there are five games that could all be winnable before we play Man City away, followed by the Totts at home. That was probably a fixture I’d have liked to have seen later in the season, with us playing them before, because they will have to adapt to Wembley in the first couple of months, which means we could have had a little advantage. As it is we don’t play them until mid February, by which time you’d expect they would have adapted, unfortunately.
In the main though, when you look at the ‘tough’ games on paper, we’ve got to be satisfied that there doesn’t appear to be any ‘death run’ this season of four tough games back-to-back. I haven’t looked at any of the other big clubs fixtures so I don’t know how ours compares, but I’m happy with my lot.
From a personal perspective the away trips to Burnley and Newcastle are nicely spaced out and with the trip to the North East in April, there’ll be hope that The Management won’t be too frozen in the gods at St James’!
The periods in the season where we really do have to put a run together though look like March and April. If (ha!) we’re within touching distance of the other teams at the top, that’s the period of time where you’d hope we could get some momentum going. It’s when games away to Brighton and Newcastle, as well as home matches against Watford, Stoke and Southampton, need to be won and if we go in to that period on good form then the hope will be there for a good end to the season.
Hope. That’s what the fixture list brings. As everyone starts to plot out their respective teams’ march towards glory, hope is what drives everyone over the summer, but for Arsenal fans we need to see more than just the fixture list to really get us revved up for next season. We need to see some action and we need it within the next month. We need certain players tied down and we need to see some incomings at the club. We need to be given the boost that new players bring, because pretty soon the FA Cup adrenaline shot in the arm will start to wear off, and this fixture list announcement will only hold the excitement for a short while.
Come on Arsenal. Let’s have something soon. Anything. Something for us fans to really get our teeth in to. Give us news of a big contract announcement, or a signing, or at least nooses of positivity that we seem to be getting somewhere with our targets. Anything!
Catch y’all tomorrow. I’m off to France for a few days. And no, I’m not looking for Arsène, just sunning myself in La Rochelle.