After the opening day defeat to Aston Villa, many pundits wrote off the gooners and put their best achievement for the season to be a top four finish. The fans were angry and the lack of a big name signing generated a ‘the world against Wenger’ situation.
Two months on, the story has changed, Arsenal are top of the table, Marquee signing Mesut Ozil is on fire, Ramsey is on a Messi-like form, Flamini and Giroud are smoking hot and the whole team is playing like real contenders.
However many analyst have cast doubt about whether the gooners can continue this great form. They have pointed at the next run of fixtures as a turning point and rightly so, these fixtures between now and the next international break are important to how the season would go. Gooner of Steel takes a look at these games
1. Norwich (H), 19th October: This is the first game into the fire and should be a routine victory for the gooners, but could prove tricky. Fresh from the international break, this game could be a banana peel for our darling Norwich. Norwich are not a bad team, Leroy Fer, Gary Hooper are decent players and would not go down without a fight. VERDICT: A WIN
2.Dortmund(H), 22 October: a match to look forward to. A must win for the gooners inorder to consolidate their top position on the table. Awin over Dortmund would almost guarantee qualification from the ‘group of death’. however, Dortmund are a great team and would provide stiffer opposition than Napoli. VERDICT: A TIGHT WIN for the gooners.
3. Crystal Palace (A), 26th October: the first away game of the series and a London derby. Arsenal would be expected to win this one if they are to be seen as title contenders. VERDICT: A WIN
4. Chelsea (A), 29th October: this is when it gets tricky. A Capital One fourth round fixture against city rivals would not be easy. a lot would depend on the kind of team both managers put out on the day. However, it would be a super clash and a win could push Arsenal all the way and maybe claim a first trophy in almost 9 yeears. VERDICT: its hard to predict this one and I see it going all the way to penalty, home advantage would walk in the gooner’s favour, A WIN
5. Liverpool (H), 2nd November: if this fixture was held now, it would be a top of the table clash; would it be the same come November 2? That depends on both teams. A home game against Liverpool should be a victory but with the Sturridge and Suarez combination bringing back memories of the Dwight Yorke-Andy Cole partnership, the gooners would have to be at their best. VERDICT: a win, slim one though
6. Dortmund (A), 6th November: the hard games are coming thick and fast. A trip to the Signal Iduna Park is as hard as its gets. A packed house, noisy atmosphere and the sea of yellow fans, even the great Real Madrid went there and were humilated. The intensity of the game would depend on the first leg result as Dortmund would be fighting to qualify for the next round. If the gooners go into this game with 9 points, a loss would not hurt so much as Marseille still have to come to the Emirates. Dortmund would be firing at all cylinders regardless of the outcome of the first leg and the gooners would have to be at their best to get something out of the game. VERDICT: a draw would be a superb result, a win would be staggering and might be even considered as an upset.
7. Manchester United (A) , November 10th: hardest game of the series. Arsenal has always had it tough at the Old Trafford and the 8-2 victory is always fresh is a gooner’s mind. It would also be Moyes against Wenger for the first time as United boss. Manchester United might nt have performed well this season but they are still a great team. VERDICT: hard to predict, a lot would depend on the form of both teams going into this one and injury concerns.
Seven games in three weeks would be tough and a lot of anti-arsenal analyst would wait to see if Arsenal would still be beaming with confidence come November 10th. Good news for all gooners, Walcott, Carzola, Podolski, Sanogo would make their return in this period and would add to the gooner’s attack; with no injuries, this could be a super one month for the gooners. #coyg