Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players begin their latest Champions League campaign next week and everyone connected with the club is hoping that this season sees the Gunners go at least one better than recent years which have seen us finish second in the group and then exit the competition at the first knockout stage.
To be fair the draw has not been too hard on Arsenal this year, although it will still be tough to beat the big spending French champions PSG into first place. However much we enjoy the glamour of the UCL, our priority must still be to win the Premier League and for once it looks like the way the fixtures have been drawn is not going to damage our chances of that.
All three of our away games in Europe are to be played on Tuesday, leaving plenty of time for the team to recover before the next league match and although one of those matches is the north London derby it is at the Emirates stadium and is going to be played on the Sunday, so the European game should not affect our chances, especially as it is against Lodogorets, the weakest team in the group. The spuds will have one day less to recover and their match is a tougher one against Bayer Le4verkusen.
The other games following our Champions League matches are against Bournemouth, Stoke, Burnley, Middlesborough and Hull City and those are all games you would expect us to win. Tottenham may have an easier looking group but their following matches are against us, Man United, Chelsea, Man City, Bournemouth and Sunderland.
Man City’s are not so bad, with Spurs and Leicester the hardest looking but they also have an early Saturday away game at Burnly following a Wednesday night game away to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Man United have Europa League games on Thursdays and that has often caused teams problems in the past. They have an early trip to Watford after an away clash with Feyenoord and they fave Chelsea with just two days rest after facing Fenerbahce. They are also away to Swansea after their trip to Turkey and they face West Ham after their other clash with the Dutch club. Their longest journey is to Ukraine and their match after that is against the spuds so hopefully Jose Mourinho’s title challenge will be harmed by their Europa League matches.
Chelsea have no European games to worry about but that has not always helped, especially when you have a big squad of players all wanting some game time, so could this year’s European schedule actually help Arsenal for once?