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!