Today felt like that long, loading wait that we get when we click on “Continue”, as the player and team stats go into archive and everyone starts from scratch, including the upcoming season’s fixtures. That proceeding that makes you wait a full 4-5 minutes until it completely transforms from one season to another.
And yes, it is the Football Manager computer game I am talking about, but I felt in a quite similar way today. The messages, scratch that, news were full of news about the upcoming fixtures, there were reviews on some of the most important dates, as well as analysis on how the season would begin, proceed, and end. Analysts and commentators are all having their say, and I keep reading every last bit of it, just like the dozen messages we get on this day in Football Manager.
The only difference I’ve found so far, is the sour feeling I still have after watching our beloved Alexis Sanchez run his heart out for 90 minutes during Chile’s Copa America match against Mexico, playing impressively only to fail to grab 3 deserved points – life is not fair at all, I tell you that. Sanchez, in his typical style, ran tirelessly throughout the field, defense and offense. And not only that, he was also the 2nd most participating player in the match after playmaker Jorge Valdivia, with 79 touches in total. His technical skills were on show as well, making no less than 4 typically dazzling runs. His shooting however, did let him down – he recorded only 1 shot on target, out of 4 in total. Vidal stole the show with two goals and an assist, but Sanchez was the understated star.
Now, you might be asking what that has to do with Arsenal’s new season, and I won’t blame you. But the (sour) feeling I got during that match, watching Sanchez play magnificently only to fail to grab the final result, is exactly the feeling I’ve been getting throughout the season for Arsenal – and not only that, but probably the last few seasons as well. The team plays impressive, determined football, yet they lack the final results. It just seems to go with our fortune. Is it our fate?
I certainly hope that change for next season, it is about time we fight for that damned title, where we belong.
The opening match fixture has been kind to us. We usually do fairly well on opening days, having won nine, drawn four, and lost only one match during the latest years – which, I know, could have been better, but so could our final league positions. On the other hand, our opening day opponents, West Ham, hold the record for most losses during the opening weekend, with 9 losses already. The stats are good, but not worth a lot. At least we hope so, as we also hold the record for most red cards in the opening weekend, with 6 in total.
The third match of the season pits us against Arsenal, as the first Top 5 derby of the season. This, I believe, is going to be one of the most important matches of the season. It could make or break our season, as recording a third victory in as many games would set the base for a good run of results – and I know I am underestimating the first two opponents in West Ham and Crystal Palace but, truth be told, we really ought to beat them.
Arsenal won’t be resting on their laurels even if and after emerging victorious against Liverpool though, as we will be traveling to Premier League champions Chelsea on week 6 and hosting Manchester on week 8. Everton and Tottenham come in weeks 10 and 12, respectively, before the showdown with Manchester City a few weeks after. Basically, the fixtures seem to be fair, as it seems like we are going to have a balance between playing teams of different strengths. It almost looks like one week we will be playing a bottom 10 team, the next a top 10 team. The all-important Boxing Day match must also not be forgotten, as we have been pitted to play recently promoted and less than illustrious Bournemouth at home, which is also very good news.
About time we finally ended up satisfied with the fixtures, or at least we should be.