So, what does that fixture list for 2014-15 look like from an Arsenal point of view?
The priority in August (as we know from previous years) is the Champions’ League play-offs, we need to navigate those safely and without fuss, so we want a pretty tame start domestically. And with Palace at home, Everton away and Leicester away, we have more or less what we would want. Not that I’m saying they’re easy games; the visit to Goodison will be challenging, Palace under Pulis will continue to be tough and the Foxes will be excited to be back in the top division. But it could have been a lot worse.
Things get tougher in September, with games against Man City at home, Villa away, Spurs at home and Chelsea away (on 1 October), as well as (hopefully) the opening pair of Champions’ League group games.
The remainder of October and into November is fine, with matches against Hull (home), Sunderland (away), Burnley (home) and Swansea (away), plus some Champions’ League games and the beginning of the League Cup. There is then an international break, after which we face Man United at our place and go to West Brom.
The run-in to Christmas is ok, with matches against Stoke (away) and Newcastle (home), but we then have our trip to Liverpool. There is also the League Cup and the last group stage match in the Champions’ League. Over the holiday period, we don’t have long trips, with the Boxing Day match against QPR (home) and then to West Ham, but those two matches are in the space of three days. We then have a midweek, New Year’s Day trip to Southampton. And in January, after the traditional slot for the 3rd round of the FA Cup, we have matches against Stoke (home), Man City (away) and Villa (home), plus the League Cup semi finals and the 4th round of the FA Cup.
February will be a little more testing, with matches against Spurs (away), Leicester (home), Palace (away) and Everton (home), and the 5th round of the FA Cup and the beginning of the knock-out phase in the Champions’ League. But March won’t be too bad (certainly a lot better than it was last season), with meetings with QPR (away), West Ham (home) and Newcastle (away), as well as the FA Cup quarter final and the continuation of the Champions’ League.
There will be a couple of tasty home matches in April, against Liverpool and Chelsea, but in between those we will face Burnley (away) and Sunderland (home), and there will be the quarter finals of the Champions’ League.
The season will run a bit later than usual, presumably on account of the World Cup. The FA Cup Final will be at the end of May, and the Champions’ League Final (in Berlin) will be on 6 June. Our league campaign will culminate with some very winnable matches against Hull (away), Swansea (home), and (for our last league game) West Brom at home, but our penultimate match will be away to Man United. That could be a very big match. If we’re still in it, there would also be the small matter of the Champions’ League semi finals
So, no death clusters this time around, but equally shorter runs of easier games than we had last season. The run-in is pretty good for us, as is the opening. Depending on how the Champions’ League group fixtures play out (if we get there….) and then how the knock-out phase falls into play, there will be times when we have tough combinations of domestic and European fixtures. An obvious one will be the Spurs-CL-Chelsea combo at the end of September. But all in all, things don’t look too bad on that front.
I reckon the draw is pretty good for us, better than last season. Now just the small matter of the summer’s transfer business……….
Written by 26May