Friday, June 17, 2011

Challenging Start To The 2011/2012 Season For Arsenal

You know, when last season ended I looked back at it and thought:
"You know what, screw this! I don't want to be led on like this again. Damn you, Arsenal!"
 Another season of Arsenal flattering to deceive had me thinking that I want to just hibernate throughout majority of next season and wake up at the tail end of it where I'll know where we stand. Season after season I watch and think "This might be our year". This is because of how well we perform throughout the first half of the season (although we usually seem to stumble for a short period in November). I've always noticed that whenever the Champions League knock out stages roll around, that's when every thing starts getting pear shaped and going tits up. It always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when the critics start coming out in droves talking about how right they were all along that Arsenal can't hack it or that Arsenal haven't improved enough to really challenge for anything. I hate always holding that naive belief that that particular season will be the one we've turned a corner and then seeing everything fall apart when it matters most.

The FA have released the official fixtures list for next season and thankfully I might not have to go off to a dark cave for a six month slumber. We start the season with what many would deem three tough games.

The first has us travelling up to St. James' Park to face Newcastle. Arguably this fixture last season was what saw the beginning of the end for us from as early as February last season. That 4-4 draw pisses me off and still leaves me baffled as to how we allowed that to happen to us.

The following week sees us take on L*verpool at home. Personally this is a huuuuuuge match for me because, Barcelona aside, there's no team in the world I hate more than them. Arsenal have done me a great disservice by dropping points to them a few months ago, not only because we chucked away vital points in the title race that day but also because anything but a win against these grunting, drooling, knuckle draggers just won't do for me.

The third game will be against Manchester United at Old Trafford. This game is obviously one of our most massive games because it will show us whether our victory against them last season was merely a fluke or whether we've actually developed in ways to exploit their weaknesses. Also, three points for us that day could effectively hurt their title defence very early on.

I much prefer having our harder games towards the start of the season to see if Arsene Wenger has done his homework over the summer and to see whether the team has improved and will mount a serious challenge for the title. We'll clearly have to be very focused and not be complacent from early on. It will force us to start the season in the right attitude or be doomed to have a repeat of recent history where we come up short in the hunt for a title once more.

Then again, with all this change to come in the summer, we could just as well start the season without a proper team and crash and burn early on. Sorry, the pessimist in me had to notice that. I guess it all really depends on how wisely we do our business in the transfer market this summer and also on the tactical changes Wenger will be making.

Here's what our fixtures for the whole season looks like:

August
13 Newcastle (A)
20 Liverpool (H)
27 Man Utd (A)


September
10 Swansea (H)
17 Blackburn (A)
24 Bolton (H)


October
1 Tottenham (A)
15 Sunderland (H)
22 Stoke (H)
29 Chelsea (A)


November
5 West Brom (H)
19 Norwich (A)
26 Fulham (H)


December
3 Wigan (A)
10 Everton (H)
17 Man City (A)
21 Aston Villa (A)
26 Wolverhampton (H)
31 QPR (H)


January
2 Fulham (A)
14 Swansea (A)
21 Man Utd (H)
31 Bolton (A)


February
4 Blackburn (H)
11 Sunderland (A)
25 Tottenham (H)


March
3 Liverpool (A)
10 Newcastle (H)
17 Everton (A)
24 Aston Villa (H)
31 QPR (A)


April
7 Man City (H)
9 Wolverhampton (A)
14 Wigan (H)
21 Chelsea (H)
28 Stoke (A)


May
5 Norwich (H)
13 West Brom (A)