Well, finally some news that isn’t an Arsenal player denying that they are leaving for Real Madrid. Today’s breaking news story is that the FA has released the 2009/2010 fixtures list. You lucky devils are getting this hot off the presses and chock full of analysis. When is the best time to go see a match? I got that covered. What’s the make or break part of the season (besides the transfer period!)? I got that covered. In fact, I have the whole thing covered, in my typical “Good, Bad, and Ugly” style. So, without further ado, here’s the Arsenal fixtures list for 2009/2010.
There’s always a ton of controversy when it comes to the fixtures list and this season is no different. That said, I’m going to ease you into that controversy with the good news, because there is some!
The good news this year is that the end of season run-in is possibly the easiest I have seen as an Arsenal supporter. Starting February 20th, and excluding all of the cup matches, Arsenal finish the season with Sunderland (H), Stoke (A), Burnley (H), Hull (A), West Ham (H), Birmingham (A), Wolves (H), Tottenham (A), Wigan (A), City (H), Blackburn (A), and Fulham (H). That’s 12 matches in a row against teams that a title contender needs to go into thinking they should win. I’m NOT saying these are automatic wins; Fulham, Stoke, Birmingham, Tottenham, and City are all teams that are very dangerous and have either beat this team recently or given us a lot of heartburn. I also don’t expect Burnley, Wigan or Hull to just roll over and let us tickle their tummies. But you have to play these guys some time and if there was ever a time to play them it would be all in a row, at the end of the season. Let’s put it this way, I’d rather play those guys at the end of the season than have 7 fixtures in a row against top four clubs to finish our season off.
So, the bad news is that just one month before the good run, Arsenal have a terrible run that they will have to make it through. Every season so far has been this way and it’s just a fact of football life that you will have a period in the season that will test your team. Including all scheduled cup matches, starting on January 20th Arsenal have a Carling Cup semi-final (second leg), followed by an FA Cup 4th round, then Villa (A), Man U (H), Chelsea (A), Liverpool (H), an FA Cup 5th round, and then the 1st leg of the Champions League knock out round.
If any part of the season will see Arsenal out of all competitions it will be the month of January 20th to February 20th, which I will either refer to as “Doomsmonth” or “HOLYCRAPWEHAVEAREALCHANCEATATROPHYmonth”.
The other bad news is that right there at the start of the season we already have scheduling conflicts. Arsenal are scheduled to play Bolton at home on the 18th of August while at the same time scheduled to play the Champions League “Play Off” first round. I assume that the Champions League fixture would take precedent and the Bolton match would be rescheduled for the end of the season which isn’t really such a bad thing but still, it means that Arsenal, with all our cup fixtures are going to have to play a metric shirtload of football, right off the bat.
Wenger needs to get this team ready right from the start. Which just exacerbates any injuries suffered in bullshark, retread, fark, conch, competitions like the Confederations Cup.
The good news about that Champions League play off is that they are seeding the competition and Arsenal are the number one seed. The number one seed will be paired with the number ten seed (decided by a pre-pre-qualifier) and that means that Arsenal will be playing against someone like Anderlecht (or lower) rather than all the doom and gloom scenarios that were touted by the press last year.
Best Times to Travel
I consider the following factors in making this recommendation: availability of tickets, availability of extra games, potential scheduling conflicts, and cost to travel. Thus, I almost always recommend seeing a newly promoted team, on a Saturday, where Arsenal could play in the Champions League on a Tuesday, where there aren’t any other competitions scheduled, and during the off season (November to April). Given all those factors, I am recommending us foreigners travel to see Arsenal on one of the following days (in no order):
October 17th against Birmingham followed by a Champions League Matchday 3 on either the 20th or 21st (which would be the best birthday week ever).
December 5th against Stoke followed by Champions League Matchday 6 on the 8th or 9th.
April 3rd against Wolverhampton Wanderers followed by the Champions League Quarter Final on Tuesday the 6th.
March 6th against Burnley, which is also followed on a Tuesday by a Champions League match, however, the Burnley match is currently double booked for an FA Cup Quarter Final match and so that could be a problem. In fact, both of those matches could end up being away matches, in which case you are proper fucked.
Thos are my best bets for you all to get over and see two matches. Remember that Champions League matches are drawn so there’s no guarantee of a home match, but usually you know that plenty in advance and can adjust your travel plans accordingly. I’d say you could jump a cheap flight and see the match in a foreign land but there’s no way in hell you’re getting away tickets to a Champions League game.
Ok, well that’s my run down of the 2009/2010 fixtures list. What do you think are the hot times to go see a match? When do you see trouble in the season? Let us know in the comments below.