The Premier League fixture list has been released today, and Mikel Arteta facing the daunting task of travelling to ‘big-six’ sides of Manchester United, Man City and Liverpool before November.
Arsenal have a disastrous record away in the league against the so-called ‘big six’, having failed to win any of their last 26 visits to our main rivals, a record that goals all the way back to January 2015.
Mikel Arteta has brought a newfound confidence back to the club, bringing all-round improvement to the current crop of players, and instilling a winning mentality back into the our way of playing.
Under Unai Emery last season, our character was nowhere to be seen, and our players were looking less and less like a team as things went on, but when Mikel Arteta arrived, there was an instant change, and the player’s work rate on the pitch was on show for all to see.
That immediate impact didn’t initially bring results, but as the players continued to build their understanding of the way they were being asked to play, the wins also came followed.
We ended the campaign in eighth, but whilst beating both Manchester City and Chelsea in the latter stages of the FA Cup, we highlighted just how bright the future could be, although the manager will definitely need a boost in personnel.
So far we have brought in Willian from Chelsea, while we are also boosted by the return of William Saliba from his loan deal, but there is strong links with the signature of Gabriel Magalhaes who could form part of a brand spanking new defence next term.
I’m hoping there will be further additions, with a central midfielder or two high on my wishlist also, but with only a week until the Community Shield any further signings will likely miss out on that fixture.
The league campaign will kick off only two weeks after that, and we will hopefully have the majority of our major transfer business done by then, especially as we will face the daunting trip to Anfield in only our third eague fixture before trips to Manchester City and Man United in gameweeks five and seven.
Under normal circumstances you would be able to talk about the excitement of our new manager being able to enjoy a full pre-season with our playing squad in order to further build the understanding of what will be expected from our style of play this term, and possible new formation change, but everything will have to be sped up this year for obvious reasons.
How many more changes are needed to give us a fair shot at breaking the top-four curse in the opening fixtures?