The Hard Tackle takes a look at Arsenal’s Premier League fixtures for the upcoming 2017-18 season and how Arsene Wenger and his men will perform
Arsenal endured a rather lacklustre season last time in terms of their finishing and performances even though certain periods saw them surge with strong displays. They might’ve ended things on a high note by beating Premier League champions Chelsea to pick up the FA Cup but their Premier League campaign was disappointing.
The Gunners had to forego a Champions League spot as they scrambled to finish fifth and will not compete in the elite European championship for the first time in 21 years. While that may have intensified the fans’ frustration, the truth is it might be a welcome boost for the team since now they can focus all their energy into the Premier League.
There were also raging chants of ‘Wenger out’ as fans and critics held the 67-year-old French manager responsible for all the poor performances, but he did sign a new two-year extension on his contract this summer. However, next season will be of utmost importance in Wenger’s career since that can either make or break his future with the club.
One of the biggest troubles faced by Arsenal is the manager’s uncertainty and over-cautiousness in the transfer window. When other clubs get linked with high-profile moves, they manage to convert them into done deals at least at some point.
Arsenal, on the other hand, do get linked to quality players but more often than not, the club fail to secure a deal in time and other teams end up capitalizing on that. In the transfer window so far, Wenger has only managed to sign Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer from Schalke.
AS Monaco’s star striker Kylian Mbappe is being linked with Arsenal for a long time now but it remains to be seen if anything will materialize out of it. Landing Mbappe would require the Gunners to splash quite a lot of cash and this might be Wenger’s greatest test as far as transfer business is concerned since they desperately need a striker.
Meanwhile, quite a lot of players like Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all expected to leave Arsenal this summer. Sanchez, especially, has been linked with huge moves to join either Manchester City or Barcelona as the Chilean does not want to give up on playing Champions League football.
The fact that they failed to qualify might put off potential transfer targets unless Arsenal are able to lure them with a great deal of money and other benefits.
In the upcoming season, Arsenal will start things off with a game against Leicester City. The Foxes did not enjoy a particularly great season either and also came close to being relegated despite being defending champions. They will be looking to do things a lot differently this time, and the Gunners will have to be prepared for a tough fight.
After the Leicester City match, Arsenal have a relatively easy game against Stoke City followed by an intense meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The Merseyside club have gone from strength-to-strength under Klopp and this game is likely to be a deciding factor in the initial top four contenders.
While the opening fixtures seem like an uphill task, Arsenal will get to see comparatively less tension in the month of May since they only have to play against Burnley and Huddersfield Town. This can be a pivotal moment in deciding the Gunners’ place in the league table since Wenger’s men are likely to beat both clubs with ease.
Receiving a mighty six points boost in the last month can change the course of Arsenal’s final position and possibly even offer a golden chance for redemption after last season.
The month of December will see maximum congestion in terms of the number of matches Arsenal will have to play in the Premier League. They will face clubs like Manchester United, Southampton, West Ham United, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion back-to-back and that will not be an easy task.
However, that will also be the time when they can try and rake in the most number of points. Barring the games against Manchester United and Liverpool, Arsenal can pick up wins in the other games. Even if they draw a game or two, they can still record more than ten points from the other fixtures.
The month of February is likely to be the most crucial month for Arsenal. They will face-off against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City – all big clubs that have the potential to cause a nasty upset. Except Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City are likely to be strong title contenders in the upcoming season.
Considering Arsenal’s dismal Premier League campaign last time, Wenger will be determined to make things right and if he is to do that, his squad will need to beat Tottenham and City in order to boost their own points and possibly get ahead of their rivals.
For that, Arsenal will need to be in top-notch form since Mauricio Pochettino will be hungry for a title win after two seasons of being so close yet so far. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola will also need to work his magic and lead the Cityzens to put up a strong title challenge.
Having said that, this will be one of the most crucial seasons in Wenger’s career since he will need to ensure his team pose a strong title challenge after last season. It certainly won’t be easy to come back stronger after what is being touted as Arsenal’s worst run in 21 years, but it is not impossible either.
The Frenchman will need to sort out Arsenal’s transfer woes before anything else and once that’s done, he can truly give all his attention to building a better team. Arsenal’s attack has been strong but they need to work on their midfield area since it becomes easier for a team to transition quickly from attack to defence if that area is solid.
There is a reason why Wenger is regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time and this will be the season wherein he can either lead the race and show the world why or succumb to the pressure and settle for an average finish thus putting his Arsenal future in jeopardy.