Category Archives: Arsenal

2009/2010 Fixtures List; the good, the bad, and the best travel times for us foreigners

fixtures-list

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.

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

P.S.

Don’t forget to get in on the very first 7amkickoff contest, being hosted by www.philosophyfootball.com. Only 13 more days!

Our very first contest! Oh yeah, plus some Arsenal stuff.

Before I start, I just have to say thank you to all the folks who shared their wonderful stories of falling in love with Arsenal yesterday. It was a special thread and it confirms the validity of an idea I have had for a while now. More on that latter bit once I work out the details. In the mean time, I will try to incorporate more user generated content in the blog.

Until then, why not try to win a shirt? I happened upon this www.philosophyfootball.com site a few weeks ago and got a real kick out of their products. So, we worked out the following competition for 5 (five!) of my readers to win a free Anfield ’89 commemorative shirt, just follow the directions below!  Good luck.

WIN ARSENAL 89 T-SHIRT


‘It’s Up for Grabs Now’…… And the rest is Arsenal history! Brian Moore’s match commentary as Michael Thomas puts away the goal that clinched the ’89 League Championship in arguably Arsenal’s greatest ever match is featured on Philosophy Football’s anniversary shirt. Plus, a diagram of the winning goal and match details. Available from www.philosophyfootball.com we have 5 to be won in our competition, to enter simply answer the following simple question:

Liverpool v Arsenal, 26 May 1989, name the two goalscorers.

Send answer, name, address and preferred T-shirt size to admin@philosophyfootball.com Entries close 30 June ’09, no purchase necessary to enter.

Cesc denies Pep talk

I never said it.

Once again, whenever the Spanish press print a blatant lie about Fabregas pining for the plains of Spain our young captain immediately and categorically denies the lie and Arsenal moves on. This is a good thing and a bad thing: it’s great because we always know where we stand with this player, it’s terrible because we all know that one day there will be silence and that will mean that Cesc is ready to leave.

Let’s just hope that day is a long way off.

Of course, that denial is immediately followed by Setanta plastering a headline like “Fabregas frustrated by trophyless run” which takes a quote about his frustrating season and expands it into a “frustrating run” but then again, you can’t trust Setanta to report news when they are unable to even make their required payments.

Clichy followed in Fabregas’ footsteps and released a statement of his own denying that he is off to Real Madrid. No one I know wanted to see Clichy go, unless the price was crazy good. So, let’s put this one to bed as well.

Arsenal pull out of Enyeama

Uh…. erm… So supposedly Arsene Wenger was so excited by watching some guy named Enyeama play in keeper for Nigeria that he immediately put in a bid for the guy. They wanted too much money, Arsene renewed Fabianski’s contract instead, and that’s how Arsenal avoided getting an Enyeama

That’s it for today, kids, there’s some flap brewing between Adebayor and Togo but I’m not linking anything until I know more. Same thing with the Vermaelen deal, no news to report so I’m not making anything up.

See you tomorrow and good luck in the competition!

How did you fall in love with Arsenal?

Today, I’m testing out an idea I have.

I could blah blah about Mathew Upson (sure, let’s break all traditions and sign the former Gunner), I could join the chorus of voices that are saying that the Cesc to Barca story is crap, I could give you an analysis of Cesc’s goal against some footballing backwater, or I could link some more speculation about so and so coming to Arsenal.

But instead, I want to hear from you. I want to hear your story of how you became an Arsenal fan. So, please post your story in the comments section  below. And if everyone could stay respectful of each other, it would be much appreciated.

To kick this off, here’s my story…

I’m an American. I was born in Pennsylvania to two “full blooded” American parents. And apart from a stint in Germany when I was a boy I have lived in America my whole life. As a good American, I grew up calling football “soccer” and American Football “football.” I loved and I played American Football. I never kicked a “soccer” ball in any serious way until just a few years ago.

In the mid 80’s I moved to Tacoma, WA. Few people outside of Tacoma and fewer outside of America remember the abortion that was MISL, but the Tacoma Stars was my first introduction to “soccer.” I saw a few games live and I think I probably said “those guys are fags.” But hey, I am an American and worse, an American Football jock and that’s just how we were back then: small minded assholes. This is all to say that for many people I have no legitimate claim on football and no legitimate reason to love Arsenal. If only life were that simple.

In the 90’s I got sick of watching American Football and the annual rules changes and generally boring nature of the sport. Sure, there were a few moments of interest, like when teams played the “hurry-up offense.” But American Football left me wanting more.

So I drifted from sport to sport looking for something to latch onto. Something that provided me with non-stop action, beauty, a respect for defense, and moments of orgasmic glory.

By 1998 I was sick of Basketball (my love affair with basketball should be it’s own blog) and by the luck of the gods I caught a game on a new channel here in the states; Fox Soccer Channel. Over the next year I watched as many “soccer” matches as I could. But I couldn’t settle on a team, until I watched Arsenal play a home match at Highbury. The camera angles were better, the seats seemed closer, the stadium was beautiful, and the action was intense.

Since that fateful day I have spent all winter finding ways to watch matches live and three months of the summer slavishly searching the internet for news. In 2004 I had to pay-per-view matches. This was before the days of Setanta; Arsenal, when not on Fox Socccer Channel were only available to me if I gave $20 to my local cable monopoly. 2005-2008 have been, well, magical. I haven’t missed more than a handful of matches since 2005; hell, I have more access to live Arsenal matches than most people I know in England.

Along the way, I have been to London four times; once to see Charlton at Highbury (2006), once to see Reading at the new Emirates stadium (2007) and again to see Blackburn (2008) and just this year (2009) to see Sunderland . Sure, I went to the museums and drank beer and chatted with locals and had a great time in spite of all that because I got to see Arsenal every time.

What’s your story?