Arsenal’s Fixtures For 2012-13: For Better Or For Worse

By now you must have seen the fixture list for the upcoming season. If not, the official website has them here.

At first glance it seems Arsenal do have a tough start. After beginning against Sunderland at home, the first such home start in four years, the Gunners will travel to Stoke and Liverpool. Then there are challenging games against City (A) and Chelsea (H) after a supposedly easier outing against Southampton (H).

So by the end of September, Wenger’s team would have played at the Britannia, Anfield, and Etihad while hosting Champions League winners Chelsea at home. They’ll drop points, no doubt about it. But there are different ways of looking at this.

For instance, all teams struggle in games away to Stoke. Playing them early in the season rather than in the winter might not be so bad. While the attempt is always to win, anything gained on that ground is a positive in relative terms.

Similarly, Liverpool will again be in a rebuilding phase. Given the difference in styles between Brendan Rodgers and Kenny Dalglish, it’s not hard to imagine them taking some time to gel. They also have a tough start. Before facing the Gunners, Rodgers will take his side to the blue half of Manchester. Soon after hosting Wenger’s side they travel to the Stadium of Light before welcoming United to Anfield. Pressure will be immense. They could really establish themselves as title challengers with big results in these games, might really struggle to get going, or have a mixed bag of results. It won’t be easy but there is a chance of getting something out of the game.

It’s tough to predict how Chelsea will line-up. Will Abramovich accept the deep and narrow defence as the strategy for the whole season, especially with further additions to the squad? Will they be able to create a more attacking style of play? Again there’s a distinct possibility their game might not click in the early part of the season.

Essentially, it’ll boil down to how well prepared each squad is on the day of the battle. Before last season the Gunners used to be among the best in that regard due to the training camp in Austria but with all the globe-trotting these days one cannot be sure anymore. A lot will also depend on the fitness of key players. If Wilshere, for instance, is back and ready it would be like a new world class signing! Then there is the Van Persie issue. We will get a better idea over the course of the pre-season. Direct qualification for the Champions League should benefit the Gunners as two taxing midweek fixtures get taken off the calendar.

Speaking of midweek games, Arsenal will only have two such matches to contend with before the end of September. One of those is a League Cup – now known as Capital One Cup or COCup – and could work as an opportunity to play fringe players or youngsters. The Gunners will have one big Champions League tie and that will fall just before the visit to City. Anything out of that game will be a bonus.

October should be a relatively straight-forward month but November takes Arsenal to Old Trafford and brings the first North London Derby of the season to the Emirates. December also has routine fixtures. Of course, the Gunners have struggled against smaller teams in recent past so nothing can or should be taken for granted.

The Champions League group stages will conclude in the first week of December. The Gunners have West Ham (A), QPR (H), Fulham (H), Villa (A), and WBA (H) immediately following these midweek challenges. Three home and three away is a decent mix and for once Arsene will not have much to complain about as far as these fixtures are concerned.

Ferguson on the other hand might have a wrinkled brow while looking at his side’s fixtures.

As a matter of fact, United will face Liverpool (A), Newcastle (A), Chelsea (A), Villa (A), QPR (H), and City (A) after their Champions League exertions.

Most teams perform below their own averages in such games as illustrated by the following graphic borrowed from the this tweet by @Hazzaboy21

Let’s not forget Arsenal had a 4W 1D 5L record in the games following CL fixtures last season. The importance of direct qualification and of relatively easier fixtures immediately following European ties cannot be overemphasized.

Moving forward, Arsene and his players will have a tough start to 2013 and the Gunners do have a history of struggling in some part of the winter of the other. One of the causes behind their woes is fixture pile-up. There could potentially be four domestic cup ties, if the team makes it to the COCup semis, to go with an equal number of League games that include City (H), Chelsea (A), and Liverpool (H). That’s potentially one big, slimy banana skin.

February has more Cup action as the UCL knockout phase starts, and Premiership games with moderate levels of difficulty. Arsenal visit Spurs early in March. By then the season could be tantalizingly poised of already down in the dumps. At the very least this game will have a major say in the battle for top 4 spots.

The end of the season run-in is not the hardest but again the caveat of slipping against relatively lesser opposition applies. Only the visit to Old Trafford at the end of April stands out as a massive fixture but the trip to Newcastle in the final week could also be a decisive one if last season was anything to go by.

As ever, the progress in various Cup competitions will have an impact on the severity of certain fixtures as the squad depth is tested and player fatigue comes into play. This usually has greater impact on games in the second half of the season and the so-called easy games can turn into nightmares. Hopefully we will see fewer injury problems and greater squad rotation this season but don’t hold your breath.

Finally, if you like having Arsenal on your desktop, this Wallpaper with the fixtures might be of interest to you (Via PascalZidane)

And for those who believe in omens and/or have a sense of humour, the following might induce a smile

Don’t forget at least some of the fixtures will be revised to fit TV demands and other considerations.

11 Responses to Arsenal’s Fixtures For 2012-13: For Better Or For Worse

  1. Beekeeper Bill says:

    With the new signings, Arsenal will potentially have their deepest squad in years. I don’t see “fixture fatigue” hitting them quite so hard as in recent seasons. Of course, staying healthy will factor into this equation, but I am very optimistic that the upcoming season will be a great one !

    • feygooner says:

      Hold your horses, there’s only been 1 signing till now. Giroud will probably come it seems, but RvP’s future hasn’t been resolved and there seems to be nothing definite on Yann M’Vila.

  2. WOLF says:

    @Beekeeper Bill
    True if we do get the signings we might son get then “fixture fatigue” might not be as big a factor. But with a large squad, Wenger will need to rotate players in order to keep them sharp and on form. And we all know Wenger ain’t the greatest with rotating.

  3. cupsui says:

    Its a pretty good fixture list. You gotta play the best teams at some stage, play them early!!

  4. Ugonnaharles says:

    We can win all these matches with d availability of players and dr fitness level….up gunners!believe

  5. Gerry Lennon says:

    I’ll go with the positive view that by November we will know where we stand. We will have played the three teams who finished above us, two of which we will have at home on the run-in. With a much stronger squad we should not expect tough matches from teams below us and lose, but tough matches and WIN. Those are the results that control our destiny. We know we can hold our own with the top teams. So look forward to a successful season, not starting on the backfoot like the last one?

  6. I geniualy hope we complete the signings of giroud and yann cause u never know what will happen? Desi gunner again i very much enjoyed the read

  7. Foolishgooner says:

    If we get lucky and get (Wilshere, Sagna and Diaby) healthy for the season. I mean look the difference a healthy Van Persie made last season, all potentially can make as much impact and could translate draws into wins and loses into points. New signing and potential signings can upgrade 2012/2013 season a domestic and European success! (Mvilla ). Young guns like Ryo, Campbell, Bartley, Ciquelin e la would have to produce…. Wenger does little business in January (cost) but it will be refreshing and moral boosting if he tried to bring in same fresh blood…. Cheers.

  8. jamo real says:

    mr wenger thanks for singing oliver guru and oders player but i want you to sing more to suport those play we need trophy this season thanks

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