What to Expect: Arsenal Fixtures 2011/2012
Arsenal face a crucial 12 months ahead that could ultimately shape their future. Investment is being cried out for by the fans, but another obstacle is the Premiership fixture list.
The premiership fixture list for the 2011/2012 season presents the Gunners a real test to start the year. Let’s look at the first six matches that will take place over the first two months of the new season and where we could be come October. The start could make or break us this year as we also have the difficulty of Champions League playoff thrown in.
13th Newcastle (Away) – Normally you would look at this game and say, “3 points!” Not after last year. We were sunk by a GK mistake in the first match and a monumental collapse in the second. We can hope that that the recent departures at Newcastle will be sufficient to make this an easier game than last year. We need these three points badly and I see the boys getting them! A strong start here incorporating our new signings, finger crossed, is crucial. 3 points, 3 total.
16th/17th CL Playoff – Not announced as of yet.
20th Liverpool (Home) – This is a tough one. Liverpool has made some interesting signings in the last six months and they don’t look to stop anytime soon. They seem to be extremely motivated to get back in the traditional “top four” and they can prove something by hurting one of their clear rivals early on. Our reinforcements will have everything to do whether or not we get a result at home. I for one see a hard fought, close match ending in a draw. 1 point, 4 total.
23rd/24th CL Playoff – Not announced as of yet.
27th Manchester United (Away) – This will obviously be the toughest test in August. Man U Are a tough, experienced team and they will likely sign a few more reinforcements for the new campaign. To top it off, we have to play this as the last match of a stretch which sees us playing four games in eleven days, and it is away at Old Trafford. There are so many negatives in the last sentence I don’t know where to begin. We will be tired; and it will be a true test for the old guard and the new signings alike; against a rival that has dominated us over the last few years, without the luxury of having home crowd support. I expect we will try to make our own statement of intent in the early season, but unfortunately I don’t see us getting a result with so many things going against us. 0 points, 4 total.
10th Swansea (Home) – The newly promoted side will have had one month to get acclimated to the top flight, but our boys should be able to handle this match in stride. We can’t overlook them like we did last year with WBA. I think they will have learned from that mistake. At this point we will be looking forward to getting some much needed points; with this game being at home, after a thirteen day rest and after a tough August, nothing less than three points will suffice. We should easily get the result needed. 3 points, 7 total.
17th Blackburn (Away) – Blackburn is always a tough game for us. They are a very physical team and that is our Achilles heel. The plus we have is the same as always, we are more talented and the much quicker side. We also have the expectation of playing with one of their current players, Samba. With the loss of Phil Jones to United and Samba to the Gunners (hopefully), they should be easier to deal with. Not easy mind you, just easier. This is a game we must win after the tough matches early on. I see us being able to take advantage of our talent and pace and coming away with full points. 3 points, 10 total.
24th Bolton (Home) – Bolton at home will be an interesting match for our boys. After a grueling August and an easier September we should be sitting on ten points from five matches. We will be looking to hit our stride by this time and three points at home will certainly help that, but it won’t be easy. Bolton is playing better football under Coyle but they had a horrid end to last year’s campaign. After helping deflate our title hopes with a shock win they proceeded to lose their next 5 matches, planting them firmly in the bottom half of the table. We need to take this game seriously and get full points, and I think we will. 3 points, 13 total.
After the first two months of the season, I see us going into October sitting on 13 points from 6 matches. I believe with new signings and the retention of our core players we will be able to do that. We definitely have a tough start, but it is manageable. This is the time we need to grow up, learn from our mistakes and take a step forward, finally, especially after the disappointment of last year. With the signing of some experienced players, the growth of our young talent, and the maturation of the team as a whole, we can have a tremendous 2011/2012, but a strong start is key.
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