Fixtures – Will Thursday Night Football Hinder Title Push?

So, the fixtures for the new season arrive with just the order of the matches worthy of note. The dates are a loose guideline; you need to block out four days in your diary to be sure of attending.

The matches are as follows (with games which must move, depending on EL progress are highlighted in red)

Aug
12 Leicester (h)
19 Stoke (a)
26 Liverpool (a)

Sep
9 Bournemouth (h)
14 EL Group Match 1
16 Chelsea (a)
23 West Brom (h)
28 EL Group Match 2
30 Brighton (h)

Oct
14 Watford (a)
19 EL Group Match 3
21 Everton (a)
28 Swansea (h)

Nov
2 EL Group Match 4
4 Man City (a)
18 Tottenham (h)
23 EL Group Match 5
25 Burnley (a)
28 Huddersfield (h)

Dec
2 Man Utd (h)
7 EL Group Match 6
9 Southampton (a)
12 West Ham (a)
16 Newcastle (h)
23 Liverpool (h)
26 Crystal Palace (a)
30 West Brom (a)

Jan
1 Chelsea (h)
6 FAC 3R
13 Bournemouth (a)
20 Crystal Palace (h)
27 FAC 4R
30 Swansea (a)

Feb
3 Everton (h)
10 Tottenham (a)
15 EL Round of 32, 1st Leg
17 FAC 5R
22 EL Round of 32, 2nd Leg
24 Man City (h)

Mar
3 Brighton (a)
8 EL Round of 16, 1st Leg
10 Watford (h)
15 EL Round of 16, 2nd Leg
17 Leicester (a)
31 Stoke (h)

Apr
5 EL QF, 1st Leg
7 Southampton (h)
12 EL QF, 2nd Leg
14 Newcastle (a)
21 West Ham (h)
26 EL SF, 1st Leg
28 Man Utd (a)

May
3 EL SF, 2nd Leg
5 Burnley (h)
13 Huddersfield (a)
16 Europa League Final
20 FA Cup Final

There you have it. The only game which definitely won’t move is the last one; that will take place on 13th May 2018, although you hope that if the fates of both clubs are already sealed, the Premier League might move the game to the 12th so Arsenal get proper preparation for the Europa League final. That’s if you feel optimistic enough for us to get that far in the competition.

HEADLINE

Some of those games would move anyway but Thursday Night Football is a pain in the Arsenal for the most part. UEFA’s determination to relegate the competition to the periphery underlines the purgatory it has become. However, the squad has to just get on with it.

The pattern of the week will change, with Saturday kick-offs becoming a rarity. It will take some getting used to for us and cause problems with public transport along the way. But the new reality in football is that the authorities and broadcasters make no attempt to hide their disdain for supporters and the inconvenience changing kick-off times cause.

With talk of moving maène tches to Sunday mornings to suit the global television markets, a Saturday 3pm kick-off is going to be a novelty. At which point, the blanket ban on showing live games during the 3 – 5pm becomes a pointless exercise. The lower leagues don’t see any noticeable boost in attendances when the Premier League as a whole or in part, isn’t playing nor do they suffer when live matches clash.

If there is some ill-effect felt, the Premier League can make a compensation payment; it makes enough money for crissakes. It won’t; Brian Glanville was right to christen it The Greed Is Good League.

IT’S THE SMALLING THINGS WHICH MEAN SO MUCH

For the players, it’s hard to see any rational excuse which can be offered for Thursday Night Football causing problems. There’s 24 hours more preparation time for the Europa League games with the same gap as playing Wednesday – Saturday.

Using the squad to best effect is partly the reason for Arsène’s handsome remuneration but this summer underlines the need for sound investments to be made. While Wenger may believe the squad only needs two or three more players, that presumes we’re keeping key personnel which is something we cannot take for granted.

In years gone by, I would have already worked out how many points I thought we could rack up. Usually, it was over-estimated and least season, horribly so. The pall of results from January to April still hangs over the club.

This season, I can’t be bothered to do so. It’ll be wrong and we know Arsenal will finish in the top six, more or less for certain. At the moment, the top four feels like it would be a bonus but that, I think, is just the weariness of last season working its way through the system.

As far as the clusters of fixtures, we seem to have come out with a pretty good deal. Stoke no longer holds the fear it once used to and Liverpool are ‘owed’ a performance after the two league meetings in 2016-17. Delivering one is a different matter.

Mind you, when stories emerge that we’re interested in taking Phil Jones – if we can’t get Chris Smalling – you wonder if anyone at Arsenal is serious about winning the league. It might help in disciplining children, I suppose: if you keep pulling faces and the wind changes direction, you’ll end up looking like Phil Jones.

Lyon Or Bust!

Elsewhere, Alexandre Lacazette could be going to Arsenal if Lyon get Olivier Giroud in return plus £40m although there may be a hike in that figure as Aulas ‘invited’ PSG to bid in the hope of starting an auction. Or maybe he’s upset we never sold him Igors Stepanovs? Who knows. Whatever the case, it’s certain to be a tedious and drawn out affair.

Still, on the bright side, it’s less than a month to the first friendly in Sydney.

Finally, over at Dad’s Jukebox, you will find Jukebox Classics and the songs which influenced Echo & The Bunnymen,

’til Tomorrow.

34 thoughts on “Fixtures – Will Thursday Night Football Hinder Title Push?

  1. Thursday night football here we come. I don’t think it will make much of a difference to team performances or even to fans. This past season we seemed to play the last half of the season on Sundays anyway.

    I agree dump the ban on live football 3pm Saturday. Why not go the whole way and screen all of the Prem games live? 1 Friday, 5 Saturday, 4 Sunday. Forget Monday…I don’t like Mondays.

  2. as a Nigerian the worst period t be an arsenal fan. the mocks from other fans especially from Chelsea fan is unbearable hope the table will turn this season.

  3. Frankly I can’t see any difference between playing on any particular night. Last season we played on every evening except Spursday (although we can’t call it that until the Spuds get knocked out in the group stage of the CL) and Friday.

    A decent run in the Europa League will give Wenger a chance to blood some youngsters as well as giving peripheral players game time and an incentive to improve the squad.

    Giroud + £40 million for Lacazette looks like a bargain to me. Just do it Wenger!

  4. We are where we are because of a series of bad management decisions and poor overall planning. We just have to get on with it. I presume that is why Wenger is paid a huge salary.
    I think we will dither in the transfer market and get to hear all of the “we nearly….”stories. The problem has been building for years, but instead of incrementally adding 2 or 3 good players over the last 4-5 years and turneding over the squad efficiently, we tend to do things only when panicked. Doing things when you have to rather than when you can is always the worst option.

  5. Well spotted YW, of course if we fail to mount a title challenge it will be the fault of the Europa League! At least the excuses will be different this time even if not much else is.

    Pete the Thirst,

    Tell me why? 😉🐀🐀🐀

  6. “you wonder if anyone at Arsenal is serious about winning the league”

    there is no wonder about it…..they are not otherwise they’d fire wenger, sell the deadwood, buy some better players…what was it stan said about not getting into football to win trophies….he’s literally a cowboy…..given that he now he owns a ranch….
    if we in the league i’m the queen of sheeba….
    is stan coming to lots of games next year ? hahaha

  7. of course europa will be used as yet another pathetic and irrelevant excuse but seriously who evens listen to these two old men anymore …… the layers of dishonesty could be used to filter dirty water….

    stop feeding the beast and it will die….

  8. Noted that in the engerland match last night they were comprehensively outplayed by 10 man france…

  9. eche,

    It matters not that you are Nigerian. There is no relevance whatsoever as to your nationality and how the angst of supporting Arsenal during these times. It might be worst time for you since you started supporting Arsenal, but that is another matter.

    Where you live, which I accept is often influenced by your nationality, is more of an issue. Being an Arsenal fan living in Chelsea, Spudsville or Bayern might have brough some grief this year, but frankly it wouldn’t matter whether you are Nigerian, British or from some far flung pacific island.

  10. So behind the leaders by enough points by mid November that our title challenge is over for the season and we can focus on the Top 4 trophy again. We were runners-up last season, so we have to time our end of season winning run slightly better in the coming season.

    £40m plus Giroud makes absolutely perfect sense, so it won’t happen. Bid £87m(+£1) for Mbappe, but he goes to RM for £120m. At least we were interested in getting him. We didn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding, but we were interested. 🙂

    (Feels wrong unless I put a 🙂 in, but that makes it all better.)

  11. In a scenario where we haven’t prepared properly (lost key players, not replaced in key positions) for the season, we could be out of the EL and EPL by end November. YW , I don’t agree we will be top 6 but far far worse. If by January 18, we are not in a position to continue challenging realistically for both of the above two competitions, Wenger should go , either because his professional pride or his bosses tell him to do so. Wish I could be more optimistic.

  12. Everton’s signing of 23-year-old England Under-21 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland will kick off £150m of summer spending at Goodison Park.
    ( Daily Mirror )

    Proper money.

    We know that the wage bill is important too, but surely this shows intent from a team outside the top 4 and not as wealthy as Arsenal.

  13. Great post Yogi

    The last 13 years of history tells us that we will most likely have a good 1/2 season and a bad 1/2 season. We will drop out the the league title race by mid season and we will collect somewhere in the low to mid 70’s in points and finish at least 10 points behind the league winner and closer to 5th place then to first. On the positive side, if we are outside of the top 4 after game 29 or if there is a need to paper over the cracks for some reason then we will have a really good run of results in the last 6-8 games and finish either in or very close to the top 4. It was a big surprise to me that we missed out on the top 4 this year and time will tell if that was a 1 off or develops into a new trend.

    After saying all of that its been impossible to predict which part of the season will be our good 1/2 and which will be our bad 1/2 and trying to predict which of the fixtures will yield our low to mid 70’s in points is an exercise in futility. 13/14 we had the best start of this decade and finished very poorly while in 14/15 I think we had the worst first half of the season in the Wenger era but had a very good second half of the season. No way to predict which of those will happen next season. All of this might change if we lose Alexis and don’t replace his production. If that happens then an end of the season run might be to haul ourselves back to 7th place to hold on to a Europa league spot instead of a CL

  14. Other then ManU away, our last 10 league games all look winnable so it sets up well for an end of the season paper over the cracks/desperation to make top 4 run.

    It will be interesting to see whether or not we will take the Europa league seriously or dismiss it the way the Spurs have done. The best we can do right now is guess since we have no post Emirates era historical data to help guide our prediction.

  15. Next years race for the top 4 might be even tougher then this season. I assume both Manchester clubs are going to strengthen. Pep and Mourinho are both going to have better seasons next year. Conte is smart enough to know that he can’t just rest on his laurels and he will shake things up and Chelsea is not going alway. Spurs and Liverpool are not going alway and if Everton improves themselves then we will have a 7 team race for those top 4 spots. Hopefully we will take the Europa league seriously because it may well be our best chance to get back to the CL.

  16. To those of us of a certain age, the chance of TV watching our Arsenal heroes on a Thursday in the Europa instead of on a Wednesday in the CL, is of little concern.
    And we still have the Emirates Cup to come! 😉

  17. Yup, Nov, Dec, Feb will be the most difficult months but I do think that October could be tricky as the players get used to playing on Thursday though bleeding in some of the youth and squad players makes just as much sense.

    Giroud + 30-40m for Lacazette, makes perfect sense especially since you are essentially putting Giroud’s wages into Lacazette’s wage packet.

  18. nicky,

    That’s why qualifying for the CL really ISN’T a trophy Nicky. I’d rather win a ‘real’ trophy in the EL than keep getting stuffed every season when the CL starts to get serious.

  19. A gem, amid the continuous gloom, Andy — “I’d rather win a ‘real’ trophy in the EL” — yippee! 😀

  20. nicky:
    To those of us of a certain age, the chance of TV watching our Arsenal heroes on a Thursday in the Europa instead of on a Wednesday in the CL, is of little concern.
    And westill have the Emirates Cup to come!

    It’s not just peeps of a certain age — I always want to watch my team – even when they are dire – not that that stops me mourning when they are crap 😀

    And I am hoping to go to the Emirates Cup, if I can – watch the game – get pissed – and tell the world we will win the EPL – and sod ’em if they do not believe me!! 😀

  21. I’d much rather we keep OG no offload THeo and Perez. If we had Lacazette and DWelbeck as s backup and versatile forward with OG as an alternate striker tactically, we would be stronger that this season. Just getting Lacazette for OG doesn’t really help us enough given the sacrifice in tactical versatility.

  22. Limestonegunner,

    I actually think a fit (that is the kicker) Welbeck offers the physicality of Giroud but offers more. The problem is, Welbeck isn’t always fit. The problem with Giroud still being here for me is that, as long as he is here, Arsene won’t bring in another striker. Perez, I actually think is quite interesting because tactically I think he offers quite a bit especially if Arsene was to ever play him on the flanks, a front 3 of Perez/Welbeck/Sanchez would press and offer so much tactically with all 3’s ability to hold up play but also turn and either run at defenders or play a quick 1-2 and be off.

  23. I would be interested with a Giroud for Lacazette deal. Although, with Giroud, we would be missing a good man who can come off the bench and score needed goals. Actually, I would prefer both of them.

    Out of interest what would be a reasonable Premiership goal equivalence for 36 goals in the French league? If the relationship is no better than Giroud’s Premier ship goals, then we may not be better off with this arrangement.

  24. @Andy 1886,
    I like to think that’s all in the past Andy. All will look bright by the time the Window closes. Trust me. For some of us, the most important thing is to be able to watch our heroes in the flesh. And TV, whether BBC, ITV, Sky or BT, will provide. 😉

  25. HenryB,

    At least I’m consistent! I would rather have the FA Cup than finish fourth too, but then I’ve always been of the opinion that qualification is only worth something if you have a genuine opportunity and desire to win the thing. I have been equally critical (it will not surprise you) when we used to take the FAC lightly. At least we’ve rectified that.

  26. nicky,

    Well I hope so Nicky, but if we’ve learned our lesson from the last few summer windows it’s that we do our business early enough to be ready and prepared for the first game, not making a last minute trolley dash! As Arsene discovered a point in August is worth just as much as a point in May.

  27. Two Owls.

    If Giroud scored 21 goals in his best season in Ligue one and 16 in his best season in the prem let’s make that a decrease of 5 goals.
    If Lacazette scored 36 let’s subtract 5 and we get 31.
    With my wonderful formula that’s 10 more goals calculated for Lacazette 😉
    Sign him up Arsene

  28. @Andy 1886,
    You’re right as usual. This Window we seem to be a bit quicker off the mark so I hope that our early bird catches the worms we need. 😉

  29. Mbappe has made it clear that he wants to take some time to think about his options, so don’t expect anything to be sorted quickly this summer. If the interest in Mbappe is real and a bid for Lacazette is the fall back position I could very easily see us missing out on both. If we are in for both players (still taking that with a pinch of salt) I would hope that we have some cut off date in mind to ensure that Mbappe doesn’t leave us high and dry without options late in the transfer window. I can see the potential for another summer like the Higuain/Suarez debacle where we ended up getting neither. The other concern is that everything hinges on Sanchez.

  30. As Everton alledgedly prepare to spend 150 million this summer, don’t you think 40 million is chump change in today’s prices?

    A Sanchez replacement is now 100 million upfront outlay and their quoted salary would be around 40 million for a year on a new deal as apposed to about 15 million on his current.

    On that basis alone I would stick with him for a year or accept little less than 70 million to sell. But then I remember making the same argument for vP…..and I was right then too.

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