Will opening month be make or break?

Sit back and watch the best of the 2011/2012 Premier League season live with Sky Sports HD.

The prospective news that the FA may call off the opening round of Premier League fixtures could prove to be a minor blessing in disguise for the Arsenal.

With the exits of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri approaching inevitability and replacements an absolute necessity, there are few things more valuable to Arsene Wenger to sort out the problems than the gift of time: a luxury that would be provided by the postponement of Saturday’s opener against Newcastle.

As things stand though the game will go ahead, providing the first fixture in what is a devilishly difficult beginning to the season.

A quick glance at the first month does not make pleasant viewing: the trip St James’s Park is followed by a home-and-away Champions League tie with Udinese and two tough games against improving Liverpool and last season’s league winners Manchester United.

It could be argued that the opening month could make or break our season. The distraction of the Fabregas & Nasri affair and the desperate need to quality for the Champions League is a powder keg waiting to be lit.

If disaster strikes is it that unreasonable to expect that our team could struggle badly, or that Wenger could even lose his job?

Fortunately, history tells us it could be quite the opposite. After all, we’ve have played plenty of European qualifiers before and never been once beaten, we managed a respectable draw at Anfield in the first game of last season and we’re catching Manchester United at what has traditionally been the best time to grab a result: as early in the season as possible.

The advantage of Fabregas and Nasri featuring so sparsely in pre-season action is that the players who did compete regularly will be fired-up and focused. People can talk about how unsettled the squad is as a whole but the fact is that we have a very settled starting line-up from day one, even if it will lack the star quality that Fabregas or Nasri could provide.

Predicting the outcome is a mug’s game and whether or not Arsenal will coming racing out the blocks, just do enough or spectacularly implode is largely down to personal opinion.

But what is for sure is that our opening month of fixtures are unmissable.

This season, Sky Sports will be showing 115 live Premier League fixtures, with every match available in HD and selected matches in 3D.

Every single Barclays Premier League team shown live in the first set of Sky Sports HD fixtures, and all three newly-promoted clubs shown live at least three times by the end of November.

Sky Sports will be covering all the big head-to-heads, including Manchester United’s heavyweight clashes with Arsenal (Aug 28th) and Chelsea (Sep 18th), as well as screening seven major derbies in HD including Everton v Liverpool (Oct 1st), Tottenham vs Arsenal (Oct 2nd) and the Manchester derby followed by QPR vs Chelsea (both on Oct 23rd).

Please note however, that all fixture are liable to change – we wouldn’t want you to miss out!

Sign up with Sky Sports Football and feast your peepers on the 2011/2012 Premier League season in glorious HD.



  1. I’m 99% certain the game will go ahead. By all reports the rioting has eased overnight, and in general Newcastle was unaffected. But I totally agree. Another week off will allow RvP, Vermaelen and Wilshere to rest up and ensure that they’re fresh for a testing month ahead.

    Spurs V Everton has been called off for those unaware.


    Agreed. Ramsey is an automatic replacement for Fabregas. He is one of the most passionate in the squad – look no further than his winner against Man Poo last season.

  2. is it true that cesc fabregas’ 4.4 millon pounds loyalty bonus goes to pay the transfer price?

  3. I’m really worried to be honest, as the defence still can’t get their head around the problems….udinese is not a weak teams like the ones we played before too, let’s not be too optimistic yet. i’ll hold my judgement after the first leg of the game. Utd already came out firing, with great win vs city, so don’t blame me for having my doubts. but i have every faith all the new kids will impress us this year. Let’s just hope it’s enough to win us something

  4. Great post andy,i particularly arsenal is already prepared for the departure of cesc as he has been out for long periods the last 3 seasons

  5. The 3 equivalent fixtures in Premiership last season netted just 2 of 9 possible points. We get to expunge the Newkie specter with our best possible team, even if it’s 1 Nil to the Arsenal. Losing the CL tie to Udinese would undoubtedly cost the club money, so maybe that will be the primary emphasis. Would we dare leave Cesc and Nasri out to keep their value higher by not being cup-tied? Nasri is suspended for first leg, I believe.
    Personally, I believe we will be better with healthy TV5 and Szczesny will only get better. Love Gervinho’s pace and style. If we lose or draw at St. James, though, the moaning will be unbearable. Forget about Wenger being fired. He’s under contract to 2013 I believe.

  6. Well I don’t know if opening month holds such an importance for Arsenal. The club has been known for years as very good starters, with terrible endings to the season. So if we see ourselves with 5 points or more and a Group Stage spot, that does not necessarily mean we will have a good season.
    On the other hand, getting the much desired wins in St James’ Park and against the scousers, will definitely boost the squad’s morale after the failures against these teams from last season.

    I do think that this is a very important time for players like Ramsey and Nasri. If Cesc leaves, which seems likely to happen even before Newcastle, this month will be very important for them. I guess we will have a hard time to get a top-quality replacement before the window closes, so they will have to step up and live up to what is expected of them. Otherwise this will be disastrous for the team.

  7. Unfortunately the opening month, can never be a season maker, only a season breaker. Also, ManU did look like they were on fire in the second half against City. But am I worried? Not at all actually, which is surprising. Even about Cesc and Nasri going (which just seems very likely now). I’m not really worried about any of the teams we have to face. I just hope we come out focused and playing well. If we do that, we should win our games. I can’t wait for the new season. This is what it is all about. Come on you Gunners!!!

  8. Whatever is going to be written by experts and pundits I believe with the present lot including tthree new signings – all of them untested and untried in epl – arsenal will be lucky to finish in top four due to one man arse wenger who thinks he has all the answers. Arsenal failed to win any trophy in six seasons was due to his reliance on third rate keepers , good for nothing legion of french deep defenders and half a dozen midget midfielders who could not stomach tackles. With this scenario gunners fan are likely to endure another trophyless season unless other top teams crumble like arsenal did during 2010-2011.

  9. Leagues are marathon and while its good to start well,what really matters is ending well. Chelsea had the best start I’ve ever seen last season (winning their first three games with 15goals and conceding none) but ended trophyless like us. Therefore, emphasis should be on an enduring team than good starters. The departures of Cesc & Samir is not a sad news (players go,players come,only club is stable);it would only force a signing at least.

  10. I think that the squad is decent now. Definitely a top four squad without Cesc. One more established striker, cm, and a cb and the squad will be perfect. One cm is still needed because the loss of Cesc will hurt the depth of the squad. The problem with last year’s squad was NOT that it wasn’t good enough to win titles. It wasn’t deep enough (and fast enough) to challenge on all four fronts. The squad has top quality. It just needs more of it to challenge on four fronts. This will be the advantage we have other other squads. This is why the signings of Miyaichi, Chamberlain, and Jenkinson are so vital. Our B team was not good enough to allow the A team to get appropriate rest, so we burned out.

    Finally, I have a feeling that Nasri will stay if Cesc leaves. IF (and this is a big IF) Nasri’s real concern is NOT money, then I think his issue is that he wants to play more centrally. That is where he plays for France and sees his career taking off there. If he stays, it will be because Wenger has decided he can play there. IF he leaves, it will be because Wenger has decided that Rambo will slot in.

  11. Getting back to this season in quite a pessimistic mood after everything I saw this summer – or more likely because of what I didn’t see and that would be the club taking firm steps in every direction needed. However, I am not without faith, I’m starting to count the hours until saturday and get ready to finally watch my beloved Arsenal play. It’s early for any sort of prediction, obviously, but if the last year I was like “omg, we’re definitely going to grab a bunch o’ trophies”, right now I can’t get that far with my wishful thinking.

    As things are at this point, we’re in a way back to 4 or 5 years ago I think, when Arsene was building a new team around young, skilled, talented but unexperienced players. The signings this summer didn’t show me anything else so far. Howevere, the transfer window closes on august 31st so there is still hope.

    Go gunners and let’s start this season right!

  12. Good to see you back Andy, and great comments from two of my favourite posters Shard and JJ with whom I agree. I think Arsenal and the first month of competition are completely unfathomable right now.
    Liverpool, Man City have added more class to their squads and Man U look to be unstoppable if they add Sneijder to the ranks. Contrasted with our additions (so far) of completely unproven players and fresh-faced kids. Add to that the imminent loss of two of the world’s best midfielders, well most predictions are predictably on the pessimistic side.
    For us to succeed over yet another long and arduous we need some James Bond-type steel. We need to be focused on the jugular. We need to kill of gamesWe need to be ruthless without being leg-breakers. As Sir Macca sings,
    “When you’ve a job to do you’ve gotta do it well,
    You’ve got to give other the fella HEELLL”
    Come ON lads – let’s give them some hell this year!

  13. The handling of business this summer has been maniacal. To be less than a week away from our first fixture and still talking about the Cesc/Nasri saga’s shows a lack of fortitude in our front office. Our manager tells us that if we lose two of our biggest players we can not be considered a big club and, whether we lose both of them or not, the fact that they both WANT out says so much in my opinion. To me, it shows that while they may respect Wenger, they don’t believe in him and his vision anymore. We can’t sell the players we want to get out and we can’t but the players we want to bring in. Wilshere publicly states we need a few more quality signings and we continue to follow a model (skilled and talented but young and unproven) that has shown promise but has not provided trophy’s. It is the job of upper management, from Wenger to the board, to asses a situation and move on it, not shuffle their feet, make bold public statements and not back it up. We have talent, we have heart, and we have ton’s of potential but we have leadership that is seemingly inept in handling business.

    I’m exciting as always for the coming season but my faith in management has been rocked heavily this summer.

  14. I, like many of the posters here are forever hopefull that there is life after Cesc and Nasri. In many ways it will allow the likes of Ramsey and Wilshire to take on leadership roles. However ithe exception of maybe cahill I don’t see anyone either current or targetted who is a true leader in the Vierra mould. Maybe RVP or TV could step up and long term maybe Jack, but I cant see the current tean winning anything without a driving force in the side, Hope I’m wrong
    Come on you gunners

  15. As bad as our pre-season may have seemed it’s been tranquility base in comparison to the Geordies! And I’d much rather be playing them on a warm August afternoon than a cold, wet windy Wednesday in December. Time to delete last season’s horror second half from the memory banks. 2-0 with Gervihno and RvP to score the goals and nearly 60 million in the bank to buy one or two big signings and lift the gloom. I love that start of the season feeling of optimism I always get!

  16. Prior to the start of last season I was confident this team would win something. Prior to the start of this season, I’m afraid to watch, out of fear it will all unravel (which I think it will). However, I think this is necessary and under Stan Kroenke I think the sacking of Wenger will follow. A new coach will be brought in and the needed signings made (any arse knows this team is so close, and frankly I don’t blame the stars for wanting to leave). So, one step back, two steps forward. Next year, under a new coach, could be our year!!

    Early season prediction.

    4 points out of the first 3 matches, as well as Udinese knocking us out due to lack of creativity to score goals, lack of experience, and shaky defending.

    I hate to say it, but a huge part of me hopes this prediction comes true, and they dispose of the lanky Frenchman, because I can’t take another gut wrencher of a fruitless campaign.

  17. I am very positive about the upcoming season. Looking forward to a post-Fabregas/Captain who-cares-about-the-squad Arsenal. However, Wenger doesn’t look so excited on the Arsenal.com main page. He looks downright sad in that ArsenalPlayer still. Someone at the club needs to change that clip.


  18. Will the opening month be make or break?
    The opening month is important. Arsenal still need to sign a player with leadership qualities whether he is a defender,or midfielder. Somebody who will influence his team-mates, who has a bit of attitude. A player like Roy Keane/Tony Adams. I reckon that will be key to winning the title.

  19. A couple of things I’d like to say. First off, the last post Mr. Weber, with the vlog is actually a really good idea. Nice touch to the discussion. And it’s great to have more posts up. Your analysis of the various occurrences are much more valuable than many other blogs as they don’t meander from the facts.

    I’m not sure how others feel about it, but I will miss Fabregas much more than Nasri. He was good to us for quite a while and he played magnificently. I’m sure many people will concede that too.

    Regarding the possible implosion of our team, I do rather think that we won’t be too bad this season. I really do have faith in the players we have. I do think RVP might get injured but at most 2-3 games and I think he’ll continue his run. The only question now is, does he get a fellow striker? Or can he get Arshavin or Walcott in that roaming midfield position that, in my gut feeling, can produce a dozen assists for that beast in front of goal? Only time will tell that. I have faith. I hope others do too.

    There’s one last thing I’d like to add. On this blog, I don’t find it as much, but I’m trying to spread the word wherever I can, I really think that if the fans don’t support the team, then they’ll lose confidence. It’s a huge psychological boost for people to have someone say “well done!” or “keep going!” or even “we’re right behind you! You can come back from this! Here have this chant” *chant chant chant* Right from the early stages of life to when age has finally caught up with you, confidence and morale is a huge thing. And it’s an even bigger thing when there’s THOUSANDS of people congregating in unison under their team banner. It can be really demoralising if THOUSANDS of people boo you off the pitch. People have already send ludicrously horrible tweets to Fabregas, a player that’s done well for us. Yes it isn’t great that he’s leaving but there’s no need to be idiots about it. Look here, even the manager, and I DON’T CARE how much people may not dislike him, he might not be winning us trophies but he has a brilliant moral compass and he said this:

    “It means the media environment with our team is very negative at the moment – if our fans go the way the media want them to go we have no chance.

    “What I want is for our fans to appreciate and to support our team.”

    This is very important for everyone to understand. I hope this message gets spread around as much as possible. People that go to matches NEED to be told to start supporting their team with renewed vigour. It’s a new season, we CAN win. Get behind the team that you love. Get behind the team you’re paying money to watch. And they’ll produce results because they’ll go into the tackles harder, they’ll make more effort to win the ball back, they’ll make more effort to make the right pass and to shoot from long range. The fans need to give the team that confidence. I implore every Arsenal fan to take heed of this. Please Gooners. Get behind the team. GO ARSENAL!

  20. Jay D

    That is something I’ve been trying to say since last season, and I’ve never been able to express it so well. Great post, and hopefully all the Gooners can unite and cheer the team through this tough period. Back them the entire season and then look back at what is. Once again, that’s just a top comment.

  21. I don’t know if we are capable of winning anything this season,but as long as wenger buy quality players that pleases fans & players and least make great attempts to winning something then I will be satisfy,the fans from around the world and me ain’t asking for much,but we must beggar for that from wenger how dissappointing is that.

  22. I have to say, I’ve never been so unenthralled by the start of a new season in my entire life. Arsenal completely capitulated at the end of last season and judging by pre-season matches, their confidence still appears to be at rock bottom. Nothing notable has changed over the summer despite repeated promises of change, other than the fact that our two best players have/are likely to leave. What sort of club sells their captain the day before a new season? It’s absolutely disgusting to leave it looming that long and then selling him under value anyway.

    Around the edges we’ve made a couple of exciting signings, but there is still nobody to turn to when our backs are against the wall, even fewer personnel now that we’ve lost a World Cup winner. I genuinely believe that our defence believes the criticism they see and hear about them and that negatively affects their performances whenever the pressure builds in a game. With nobody coming in to address that or give fresh ideas or character, I don’t hold much hope for the new season.

    I have to say I feel pretty let down by business so far.

  23. Thanks for the posting Drew,
    this will be an intrigue for sure. Six in the morning game day, the Catalan press say Cesc is on his way there and no new CB in the squad yet. Still the start of a new season is always exciting even if it’s kinda topsey-turvey right now. Well, on to the coffee and pre-game shows.
    Come on You Gunners!!!

  24. after that pathetic showing i’m going to go out on a limb and say “break” for the season ahead. disappointing that our target is 4th.

    ps. joey barton needs to die now.

  25. Just finished watching the Newcastle-Arsenal game! More of the same without the class of Cesc and Nasri. The defence was solid and Kos shone out. Rozinsky started well but faded out as he tired; Walcott never woke up; Sagna still can’t cross; RVP far from his sharpness – and why does he have to take all the corners when he could be more useful trying to head a cross home. As to Gervinio, I think it was an encouraging debut – pity about the sending off, but then we are used to f****ed up decisions by the refs. As I said more of the same. Clearly Arsenal are mismanaged both on and off the field, and I will be the first to toast AW’s sacking

  26. Squad looked OK today. Clearly that creative defense-splitting CM is needed. I don’t think that having Nasri would’ve changed much today, whil having Cesc or someone with his quality would have.

    Credit to the defense. I thought that Kos and Vermaelen played very well together. Gibbs looked good. Still think the squad needs a CB, but we have to be encouraged by the partnership we saw at the back today.

    Once again, the refs absolutely blow it against Arsenal. Either the red card against Gervinho will be rescinded OR Barton must get a red post-match.

  27. I thought we played pretty well all in all. The midfielders fought well for the ball and dominated. The back four played well especially Kos. The red card was bs but what can be done about it? Too bad for our finishing though, that’s where the other two points went.

  28. @LA Gooner

    Once a yellow is given, no further punishment can be awarded. Because the referee has ‘dealt with it already’, and we all know referees are infallible. Forget the red card, I think it was a penalty in the first place, and definitely a penalty after because the ball was still in play when Barton committed his foul on Gervinho. A foul in the box = penalty.

    Rather than the finishing I think it was just that we didn’t create enough chances

  29. Hands up who wants Joey Barton in an Arsenal shirt? What a total and utter scumbag he is. Positives were the defence and keeper, and Gervihno in glimpses. I thought Rosicky did ok for an hour or so and was the only one close to looking to create anything. If only we could keep Fabregas for more year – we do look one dimensional without him.

  30. My thoughts :

    * Gervinho was the best player on the field.

    * Koscielny was a close second.

    * Joey Barton is still the biggest prick in world football.

    * Gibbs and Sagna need to thoroughly work on their crossing.

    * It’s only the first game, the rust will soon disappear.

    * Rosicky played well, but the lack of match fitness soon became evident.

  31. In another notable point, Gervinho playing in Eboue’s #27 confirms that the latter Ivorian has played his final game for the club.

  32. Totally agree with Shard, LA Gooner and Gruggy… Thought the defense played admirably throughout and our dealing with set pieces was satisfying. However, the rustiness was evident and we lacked serious penetration. Nasri wouldn’t have influenced the match much in my opinion. Even so, there were a couple of opportunities where i felt RVP could’ve done better (a certain rosicky dinked through ball springs to mind) and taken a first time shot. Good to have gotten this match out of the way and now let’s focus on a more important match vs. Udinese on Tuesday.

  33. Usual garbage from Newcastle carrying on from the thuggery from last year. It’s high time for the FA to start cracking down on Barton. I’m going to not get my hopes up too high this year and predict a 5th or 6th place finish. I’d love for the squad to prove me wrong but that’s what my head says. The looking good till 7 or 8 weeks to go seasons are killing me!

  34. – glad to see Rosicky getting a few good passes, he seemed to me one of the more creative players on the pitch, though by taking many chances he also made a few mistakes

    – good partnership in defense, I’ve never been so assured in a long time, Kos and Ver do their job really well and also it seemed to me the team had a more cohesive approach to defending, the midfielders pulled back more oftern, the placement was good; this was done maybe at the cost of our attacking or counterattacking options but in time we’ll get the balance right, specially with Walcott, Chamberlain and Myachi, who are fast players

    – with all the talk about Cesc and Nasri, the player I missed the most today was Wilshere

    – Song did his job well and even though he wasn’t fair play, I just laughed when he stepped over that thug’s anke

    – and for what it’s worth, red card and all, Gervinho did well to stand up and take attitude after he was bullied; it’ll cost us, true, but I liked what I saw

    – overall, I agree with Gruggy, rusty first game but that will go off soon

  35. Liverpool who have spent 40m+ in this window alone (don’t forget Carroll and Suarez either) couldn’t beat Sunderland at home.

    To draw Newcastle away, on the first game of the season, without Cesc or Nasri, with a man down and a squad already carrying injuries is not a bad result IMO. Not brilliant (anything less than a win never is), but given the context if I was offered the result a week ago, I’d take it everytime.

    The two most worrying things are the bench :

    Fabianski – Jenkinson – Djourou – Frimpong – Chamberlain – Walcott – Chamakh

    We have three debutants. Two of which played their last game in League One and a half fit Walcott.

    And the suspensions :

    Take Gervinho and Song out of the Liverpool, and possibly the United games (I presume he’ll be banned for 1-3 matches for stomping) and our already stretched depth is looking even thinner. Especially in the middle of the park. That is, unless some signings are made within the next week.

    On the injury front I’m not sure whether Jack will play against Undinese – we can only hope.

  36. Song can still get into crap?
    Also a bit disappointed but agree with the pre-season rustiness. I just hope MU and CH are also rusty.
    Barton won because he was looking to create that situation, a dirty unsporting way to play. Gervhinio should have punched him because he would be in the same crap but prickface would have a sore jaw today.
    I hope that Gervhinio is not a diver.
    Ooh to, ooh to be, ooh to be a….

  37. It looks official. Cesc is in his way. Good luck to him and thanks,
    Now we have no excuses for not shoring up the backline. The money is there.
    What will happen next?

  38. It’s a sad day in goonerland but it’s understandable,cesc stuck by us through just about everything and having to stay an extra year which I appreciate. I ask my gooners to respect his decision and too wish him the every best at barc,even though barc play the best football on the pitch,but re nothing expect rubbish pigs off the pitch for been disrespectful and conducting the cesc saga in a rude way[putting barc shirt on cesc,speaking for cesc].So where do we go from here?I suppose if wenger does not want to replace cesc with a real mature quality midfielder, then wenger should make sure that he does everything to hold on to nasri,or the ? Lives on are we just a player selling club? Names that are desperate needed is felipe melo,c samba,mertesacker,jagielka or cahill,I can’t think off any midfielder that wenger could buy,becoz he is such a scrooge.plz guys don’t be bought into the performance against newcastle,yes it was a draw and gud defense,but how much gud was newcastle on paper and on play?if you been watching arsenal for da last six years u will understand my player’s request.change the policy wenger or this will be a trophyless season again

  39. Just tired of all the crap Wenger is doing. Why does he allow room for all this speculation? Get SAMBA, short and simple. Get some EXPERIENCED midfielder too,

  40. One of the saddest days as an Arsenal fan but it was obvious he wanted to leave and that makes it a bit easier to take because in a way it makes me angry, why do you want to leave with all these people loving you? the need for trophies, going back home, I can understand, but millions of people won’t call you the captain of their team. I can’t wish him the best at Barca, I will only thank him for what he did for Arsenal

  41. @Opus,

    He was not an ungrateful moron. He did his part for Arsenal and he did it well. He thanked Arsene Wenger vehemently and to my eyes and ears, it was genuine. So no point bagging him out.


    Do you think that perhaps Frimpong can cover for Song in those games? He’s been doing a great job so far from what I’ve heard. Hopefully Wilshere will take rest this whole week and be okay for Liverpool. If he’s not, surely for Man U.

  42. I really hope Wenger to leave soon, he simply will not turn Arsenal back as a winning team. Let’s be realistic, he don;t want to admit is his own failure to prepare for the leaving of Cesc and probably Nasri. There are fine players in EPL, no need to buy from abroad. This will be an important week for Arsenal , but My God, they are not in good shape or having any moral at all. Maybe it is good for the team to loose to MU and trigger the leave of Arsene Wenger.

  43. WEnger has completely lost it. He should have been in the market in June instead of now scratching around for replacements most of which he wont get. With the money which the directors have got we he should have been sepnding big to replace Nasri and Fabregas. Yet another crap season is instore for Arsenal. I think that he is now afraid of buying incase he makes the wrong choice. I think that its time for a change before we become just an average team in the premier league or even relegated. Get a grip before we sink in the water

  44. Leave it, Wenger, Dun say you are not stubborn. You let all supporters down. Just leave for Arsenal to restore the future in only this season.

  45. Simply stupid, put up a 4-3-3 line up when you faced MU and you had 8 players first team players unavailable. Arsene, did you still think of attack would have worked? You should use your one and only plan 4-5-1 to battle at the middle fo the pitch? You are a bit naive this time.

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