The one thing many gooners were concerned about before the draw was the distances we might have to travel. Ferguson seems to agree with us on that,
It’s a good draw for us. You always look at the travelling side of it. The only one of any great distance is the trip to Turkey.
From the travelling point of view we don’t have a very good draw. The following image gives a rough idea of the distances we have to travel.
None of our trips is going to be a short hop. Spuds are lucky in this regard as they have to travel to Holland, Germany and Italy.
We are also going to Ukraine early in November. I’m not an expert on the weather there but we do have a history of losing some players around that time as it gets colder. Hopefully, injuries will not be a problem this year. I’m sure we are all sick of them one way or the other.
From a scheduling point of view the draw is not as bad as it could have been. As I’d mentioned in yesterday’s article, we have five away trips immediately after the CL games.
We have a very difficult away game with Chelsea on 3rd October after the first away trip to Belgrade on the 28th of September. The Tuesday – Sunday combination should be helpful and also the fact that we face WBA at home before leaving for Serbia. Hopefully, Arsene will be able to rotate the squad to rest some key players before the big one at the Bridge.
Thankfully, after our longest trip of the group phases to Donetsk we have a home game against Newcastle. That one is a Wednesday – Sunday combination so once again we will benefit if we can rotate the squad a bit.
The final away game in Portugal falls on a Tuesday after a North London Derby (home game) on Sunday and just before the trip to Villa on a Saturday. That means we will play three big games in a period of seven days. If we do well in the first four games then the game against Braga might not be that important and we might be able to play a weaker team.
We also have some big away games following all our home fixtures in the first round. After the home game against the Portuguese side we visit Sunderland. Eduardo’s return to the Emirates will be followed by a trip to the Eastlands for a big one against City. And the home game against Partizan Belgrade will be followed by a trip to Old Trafford. Ideally we should have the group tied up before the final game and that should give us a chance to rest some players before we take on United. Interestingly, United have a Tuesday game and we have a Wednesday one before the battle on Saturday.
I guess some of you might say we should be doing well in most of these games if we want to have title aspirations. I agree with that and I think we can do it as long as we don’t lose too many players. In the last couple of years we’ve really stretched our key players in this period and have ended up short at the business end. I hope Arsene gets the opportunity to spread the work load a bit better this time around.
From a football point of view I think our draw is not as easy as some others and not as tough as a couple of groups.
I think groups A and G will be closely fought, while C and D look like easy ones. Amongst the teams we will face the Ukranians will probably be the toughest, especially in the away game. We cannot take Braga lightly either as they’ve just knocked Sevilla out. I’ve not idea about Partizan.
More importantly, all the stadiums that we will visit are likely to create a hostile atmosphere and we will have to be on top of our game to get results.
Having said that, I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t take 9 points at home and at least 4 from the away games. That should see us top the group. All in all, I think it’s a tricky draw and not as easy as some might suggest mainly because of the travel and fixtures coming after these games. At the same time it could have been much tougher (for instance, visit to Ukraine before the United game) so I’m fairly pleased.