Thursday, 20 June 2013

Arsenal"s Premier League Fixtures Announced

The humdrum of the summer was broken briefly yesterday with the announcement of the Premier League fixtures for next season. The fixture list brings the new season just a little closer and Arsenal's first pre season friendly is only three and a half weeks away. The new season will get off to a very busy start for Arsenal with five games to play in the last two weeks of August.

They start off with a home game against Aston Villa on Saturday August 17th. With a midweek Champions League qualifying round to contend with the team will really have to be primed to hit the ground running. They don't have to travel far the following weekend as it's a game against West London opposition in Fulham.

I know a few Arsenal fans who will be really looking forward to that game as they make their way to the game by boat. Needless to say there will be a bar on the boat and plenty of fun to be had too. It's come around again very quickly after the fixture last season was played just before the season ended. I hope to make that trip myself one day but sadly it won't be this coming season.

After the return leg of the Champions League qualifier August will finish with a home game against arch rivals Spurs. They have won the last two home fixtures against Spurs 5-2 and hopes will be high for another goal feast for Arsenal. The transfer window will close that day and hopefully Arsenal will have all their business completed well before that.

There's still no real movement on the transfer front, but that doesn't mean the media isn't full of rumours. Gonzalo Higuain and Marouane Fellaini are the two players names that don't seem to be going away and I would be very happy to see both of them in an Arsenal shirt next season. 

There has also been a lot of reports recently linking Manchester United's Nani with a move to Arsenal. He's a player a lot of Arsenal fans aren't particularly fond of and he didn't do well for United last season. With only a year left on his contract he would be available at a good enough price and that might just interest Arsenal.

He's a player with a lot of ability and he has an eye for goal too. At his best he could be a good addition to the Arsenal squad and if he did arrive I'm sure any fans who dislike him would soon change their minds. I don't know how much truth is in the rumours but I wouldn't be too unhappy if Arsenal did sign him.

Studying the fixture list a little closer I noticed Arsenal will play away from home for five of their six games after Champions League group games. That's assuming they make the group stages of course and that won't be too easy either. I am fairly confident they will make it to the group stages but those five away games will really test the squad strength.

I wrote a piece last season about how many away games Arsenal had shown live on TV early last season and I wouldn't be surprised to see the pattern continue. The TV companies love to see a surprise defeat and an away game after a CL group game is obviously more likely to present that chance. 

Looking further into the fixtures early November will be tough with Liverpool at home, followed by a CL game and United away all in the space of a week. In mid December it's a CL game followed by a trip to City and then Chelsea at home a week later. There's a possibility of a Capital One Cup quarter final between those two league games and it will be another testing time for Arsenal. 

In early February it's Liverpool away followed by United at home three days later. The second half of March brings a trip to Spurs, a trip to Chelsea and then a home game against City. It's interesting to see Arsenal play against the other top teams so close together with the exception of the home game against Spurs in August.

Arsenal didn't do well enough in those games last season and have to improve on that record this time. Two points from six games against the three teams that finished ahead if them isn't good enough and hopefully next season will be a lot different.

The final league game of the season will be a trip to Norwich as Arsenal play away from home on the last day for the third season in a row. It's always a little strange to see the players doing a lap of honour/appreciation in their final home game when there's an away game to follow. Hopefully they will have something to celebrate with the fans by then. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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