Our path has been laid out. January – May.

June 18, 2011

If you managed to make it through the August-December look at the season’s fixtures, here is part two. Enjoy. (If that’s the right word to use.)

January.

January has the potential to be a very busy month for the club, should the team to make it to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup and win the FA Cup third round tie they will have to play eight games in thirty days. The month starts with an away trip to Fulham on the 2nd. So, following the away trip to Villa on December 21st, the team will be playing in London until at least the FA Cup 3rd round tie on the weekend of the 7th & 8th. Should we make it to the Carling Cup semis, the first leg will be played on the 11th. The Premier League will then resume with an away trip to Swansea on the 14th ahead of the visit of ManU to the Emirates on the 21st. With the two cup games and Swansea trip coming before this game, it is a chance to rest some of the more senior players to ensure they are 100% for the ManU game. The Carling Cup semi-final second leg is schedule for the 25th with the FA Cup 4th round on the weekend of the 28th & 29th. The final game of the month sees us travel to Bolton on the 31st.

League prediction: WWDW (10pts)

February.

February sees us take on Blackburn at home on the 4th. We then have a week to rest before travelling to Sunderland on the 11th. The 5th round of the FA Cup will take place on the weekend of the 18th & 19th. Spurs visit the Emirates on the 25th, though that game will be moved should the team reach the Carling Cup final, which is scheduled to be played on the 26th. Will the team be able to right the wrongs of last season and bring home the Carling Cup as its first piece of silverware? Time will tell. One thing seems certain, if they do reach the final their opponent is unlikely to be as favourable as Birmingham should have been last season, which may be no bad thing as it would help avoid complacency.

League prediction: WDW (7pts)

March.

This is when the men really start to be separated from the boys and the run-in begins in earnest. The team faces a trip to Anfield on the 3rd followed by the visit of Newcastle to the Emirates on the 10th. There are no easy games at this point of the season and the team will be hoping to be in good form and injury free as each game becomes more crucial than the last. An away trip to Everton is scheduled for the 17th but this is subject to change should either team reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup. There is then a week of rest ahead of a home game against Aston Villa on the 24th and an away game against QPR on the 31st.

League prediction: LWDWW (10pts)

April.

The first league game of the month comes on the 7th with a home game against Man City and is followed by an away trip to Wolves on the 9th. The boss will need to think carefully about which players he rotates for these two games as clearly he won’t be able to play the same starting eleven in such a short space of time. On the 14th, Wigan are set to visit the Emirates, however this game is subject to change should either team reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup. A week later, on the 21st, Chelsea visit the Emirates in what will hopefully be a pivotal game in the title race. The final game of the month comes a week later, on the 28th, with an away game against Stoke.

League prediction: DWWDD (9pts)

May.

Our final home game of the season will be on May 5th, against Norwich. However, this is subject to change should either team reach the FA Cup final. You would have to look at that as a guaranteed three points at home. Our final game of the league season is on Sunday 13th, when we will travel to play WBA. If the team is level on points, or ahead, with two games to go you would have to fancy our chances of lifting the title with Norwich and WBA as our final two games.

League prediction: WW (6pts)

The second half of the season will see us playing nine home games and 10 away games.

Final league points tally prediction: 82 points. P38 W24 D10 L4.

That final points tally may seem overly optimistic as it would be a 14pt improvement over last season and involve just four defeats, four less than last season. But, if you can’t be optimistic ahead of a new season then you may as well just stop following football. It’s also based on the assumption that we will have strengthened the squad and sufficiently addressed the defensive frailties that plagued us last season.

That’ll have to do for my outline of the season’s fixtures as they currently stand. Of course, some of these may change depending on results in the various cup competitions.

 

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/colm_smyth

Take it easy.


Our path has been laid out. August – December.

June 18, 2011

Yesterday saw the announcement of the fixture list for the 2011/2012 season and it hasn’t given us an easy opening month by any stretch of the imagination. I will take a look at the fixtures month by month, as the Premier League gets uppity if you print a list-style fixture list and would have their goons send me a message ordering it to be taken down.

 

August.

August sees us kick off the season with an away trip to Newcastle on the 13th. Not the easiest of opening day games. This is then followed by the first leg of our Champions League qualifier in midweek. On Saturday 20th, we have a home game against Liverpool. The following midweek sees us play the Champions League qualifier 2nd leg followed by an away trip to ManU on the 27th.

That, I’m sure you’ll agree, is a tough run of games and the team will have to really hit the ground running if they are to avoid suffering a string of morale crushing defeats in the opening month of the season. Perhaps it will prompt the manager to finish his transfer business early so that that the squad is settled and the new players have had a chance to integrate before the season starts, rather than waiting until August 31st in order to try and save a few pounds in the transfer market, as has been his modus operandi in the last few years.

League prediction: DWL (4pts)

September.

September will offer the chance to get some decent points on the board with a home game to Swansea on the 10th, away to Blackburn on the 17th and home to Bolton on the 24th. All of those games are very winnable with the Bolton game likely to be the toughest of those fixtures. But, if last season taught us anything, it’s that this team is most often at its poorest against the  so-called lesser teams, so it will be a good early indicator of whether or not they have learned anything from their previous plethora of mistakes.  The Blackburn and Bolton games sandwich the 3rd round Carling Cup tie on the 21st.

There’s no point mentioning the potential Champions League group stage dates as we haven’t qualified for that yet and I don’t want to tempt fate.

League prediction: WWW (9pts)

October.

October looks like it could be a tricky month and it kicks off on the 1st with an away trip to Spurs. This is followed by a two week break which must be for a depressingly dull international break. Normal service is resumed on the 15th with a home game against Sunderland which, given the players they have offloaded this year, we really ought to be winning. Stoke visit the Emirates on the 22nd in what will be a good aerial test for whatever form our revamped defence will take. Will we be able to deal with Delap’s throws? The Carling Cup 4th round, should we still be in it, is on the 26th. The final game of the month sees us travel to Stamford Bridge on the 29th. That game will be a good test of the team’s mettle. If the team can get good results in the games against Spurs and Stoke we could be heading into that game with a good level of confidence, increasing our chances of getting a good result, as this team relies heavily on being confident in order to perform. However, I have a feeling that October won’t be too kind to us this year.

League prediction: DWDL (5pts)

November.

Unusually, November looks set to offer another chance for the team to get some points on the board and in a month that generally treats us very badly both in terms of results and injuries, we just might be able to have a decent November, for a change.

The month opens with a home game to WBA on the 5th. This is a game that we really ought to be winning. This is followed by an away trip to Norwich on the 19th and then a home game against Fulham on the 26th. All three of those games are games that we really ought to be winning if we are to have any kind of serious title aspirations. By mid-November, any kind of buzz felt by Norwich following their promotion should have dissipated and the harsh realities of a Premier League season will have set in. The month ends with a possible Carling Cup quarter final tie on the 30th.

League prediction: WWW (9pts)

December.

December will provide more of a test for the team. The month starts with an away trip to Wigan on the 3rd. On the face of it, this should be a very winnable game, but we all remember being 2-0 up there a year or two ago only to blow the game and lose 3-2. Everton visit the Emirates on the 10th, followed by away trips to Man City on the 17th and Aston Villa on the 21st. That’s a run of three tricky games as we head into the Christmas period. On the 26th we have a home game against Wolves and on the 29th we are home to QPR. I will be hoping to get myself to the QPR game while I am home in Ireland for Christmas. While it won’t be an easy month, it could have been a lot worse as we only have to face one team that is set to challenge for a top four position. Apart from Man City, those other teams will probably finish lower than 8th.

League prediction: WWLDWW (13pts)

 

The first half of the season will see us playing ten home games and nine away games. Hopefully our home form will be better than it was last season. It will have to be if we want to pick up some silverware.

 

Okay, that’ll do for part one of my look at the fixtures for the coming season. Part two will be up about an hour after this one, should you be arsed reading it having read this. I will update this post accordingly should the team successfully navigate its way through the Champions League qualifier in August.

 

As always, you can find me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/colm_smyth Also, thanks to all who have given me an #FF on Twitter. I never expected to reach the number one spot in Japan, let alone spend seven weeks there. Thanks very much!

Take it easy.