On the eve of the Mikel Arteta’s 100th league game in charge, Arsenal are in a very healthy place. The club are top of the league after three successive wins, all but one player is fit and the supporters are enthused by a quality of football that exceeds anything seen at the Emirates in years.
Right now, life is good for the Spaniard but he won’t be resting on his laurels. Having experienced enough highs and lows to fill a book or two in his 979 days at the helm, he knows that everything can turn to sh*t in the blink of an eye.
Asked what he’s learnt from life as a manager, he said: “How difficult and how beautiful life is when you win or lose! Especially that.
“And then looking back, analysing the journey and how many things that have happened, the way that every decision counts. Consistency is so important and just stick to what you believe in because in the end things will happen.”
He didn’t deny that, at times, he questioned whether he could guide Arsenal through the troubled waters.
“We are human beings, we doubt,” he explained. “Especially when you lose football matches. With the environment turns around and you don’t find a real way to win matches, even though you deserve to, you have to find other ways to adapt.
“Sometimes you have to do that, but at the end you have to feel what you do because it’s the best way to transmit it, especially to your players and then to your supporters and everyone around the club, and that’s what we have tried to do at all times.”
While the start to the new season has seen a drip, drip, drip of matches, a veritable tsunami of football is on the horizon. As a result of the mid-season World Cup in Qatar and participation in the Europa League, Arteta’s squad will play nine games in October; six in the Premier League and three in the Europa League.
Judging by this Guardian article from 2012, the last time the club faced such a fixture pile-up was in April 1980 when Terry Neil’s Gunners were challenging for the FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup while juggling league responsibilities.
Will Arteta’s players be able to handle matches every three days?
“That’s what we hope,” he said. “Obviously there are a few things that we cannot control – injuries and suspensions as we’ve had in the past. But we have to maintain the level of performance we are at right now and the demand will be to do it every three days, which is what you are hoping for when you are at this club.
“It’s a completely unprecedented season, not only because we are going to be playing a lot of weeks with two or three games, but especially because we have the World Cup coming up. We don’t know how that’s going to affect us, so we have to look at the overall picture. The preparation and the organisation is being done in regards to that.”
Arsenal’s manic October 2022
1st October, League | Sp*rs (H)
6th October, Europa League (Matchday 3 – TBC)
9th October, League | Liverpool (H)
13th October, Europa League (Matchday 4 – TBC)
16th October, League | Leeds (A)
20th October, League | Manchester City (H)
27th October, Europa League (Matchday 5 – TBC)
23rd October, League | Southampton (A)
30th October, League | Nottingham Forest (H)
Arsenal’s manic April 1980
2nd April, League | Norwich (A) Lost 2-1
5th April, League | Southampton (H) Drew 1-1
7th April, League | Sp*rs (A) Won 2-1
9th April, Cup Winners’ Cup | Juventus (H) Drew 1-1
12th April, FA Cup 1/2F | Liverpool (N) Drew 0-0
16th April, FA Cup 1/2F (replay) | Liverpool (N) Drew 1-1
19th April, League | Liverpool (A) Drew 1-1
23rd April, Cup Winners’ Cup | Juventus (A) Won 1-0
26th April, League | West Bromwich Albion (H) Drew 1-1
28th April, FA Cup 1/2F (replay) | Liverpool (N) – Drew 1-1
[Fixture info sourced from The Arsenal History]
10 goals and 7 draws in 26 days. We salute the old guard who made it through that period, especially knowing the pain of the eventual cup final defeats to West Ham and Valencia.
You’ve done us proud Mikel.
Very grateful for making football a thing I very much look forward to as apposed to a cross I must bare.
Genuinely forgot how much fun football is when played with such passion and joy.
Here’s to 100 more.
Sign me up for 1000 more, at this rate.
We won more games in a row last year only to surrender to the archrivals. But I agree that we have more quality players everywhere this time. I don’t see anybody else to stand his ground when the going gets tough other than Xhaka.
Brian Talbot was absolutely immense during this period. Still have a serious man-crush on Noddy!
The connection with the fans and the role of the A Army is a big factor in our renaissance IMO……just excited for the next game !
When you say A Army I wince a bit as I love cricket too and I find the name barmy army and the relentless singing it makes me feel a bit sick, it’s just not cricket 🏏 😂 and please please arsenal fans don’t start singing arsenal army arsenal army arsenal army. I would rather put a camp fire out with my face than join in that chant.
That fixture congestion looks insane man wtf?
Oh boy, I was at that Sp*rs game April 7th 1980 as a 15-yo.
Coins, molotov cocktails, and a win!
What Arteta needs is a plan B and plan C. When things go wrong and we go a goal down we need to be strong and turn things around when plan A is not working.
It certainly is a hectic schedule, particularly in October, but I guess we’re not unique in that. Squad strength and depth will largely determine whether we’re successful across the season as it does for any team. I think we’re better placed than for several years now to take on a packed schedule, and coping with the inevitable injuries and suspensions that Arteta mentions, but only time will tell. The bottom line is that the current squad (plus possibly one additional player) will have to do the job. Expectations are high now, understandably, and it will be interesting to see how… Read more »
Personally, I have full confidence in players like Turner, Holding, Cedric, Elneny, Sambi, Vieira and Nketiah to see us through against sides like Bodo/Glimt, Zurich and even PSV, all due respect those sides. Not implying they’re pushovers, but our backup players are certainly at or above that level. If anything, I see this more as an opportunity to get minutes to players who need them. Barring injuries, I have no concerns whatsoever about this set of fixtures. Opponents in that run will also be forced to play stronger sides in Europe than we will.
Agree with you about our squad being capable of dealing with those teams but I think there will be more to it than having the legs to manage it; presumably MA will bring relatively strong benches to EL games, which means a lot of travel and prep work for the first-choice premier league players who are called up mid-week, even if they’re spared from playing 90 min every 3 days. Then there are the select players that are relied upon more than others who will start to edge closer and closer to red zone territory as the season progresses…. I… Read more »
Ah the 1980 Cup Final, when Willing Young said “Paul Allen, ya wee bastid, ye’ll nae make it past me! Try runnin’ now, ya wee ned!”
” We salute the old guard who made it through that period, especially knowing the pain of the eventual cup final defeats to West Ham and Valencia.”
Indeed we do.
Oh boy, I was at that game Spurs April 1980.
Coins, molotovs, and a win!
10 years before my time the 1980 cup final but my dad always tells me a story of how him & my late grandad ended spending the game sat amongst the West Ham fans & he was so confident we’d win, he said he’d crawl out the stadium if they won…still hasn’t forgiven Sir Trevor Brooking 🤣
There’s no doubt there will be heavy rotation for those three Europa League games. Looking at our bench for Bournemouth last week – Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Holding, Tierney, Tomiyasu, Vieira, Lokonga, Elneny, Turner – with all those 9 starting + Marquinhos and someone else, you’d still have to be pretty confident in picking up wins against Bodo/Glimt and Zurich. Playing 3 Champions League clubs in October (all at Home by the quirk of the fixture computer) works out quite well for us as those clubs will also have the same fixture pileup but won’t be afforded the same level of… Read more »
But they won’t playing on a Thursday 🙁
Good point, Liverpool and City will have an extra day recovery.
The North London Derby is a 12:30 Saturday after a two week international break to make it even more unpredictable – maybe Ben White can give Kane a dead-leg in training.
Its almost the same for them. Less time to recover after Sunday match till Tuesday or Wednesday. If they can’t rotate, they’ll suffer in CL.
Why are there so many home fixtures against the tougher teams in this 1st Half of the season??!! This can pose a really big challenge in the 2nd half of the season when there is added pressure of finishing top of the league. I hope our guys will fare better than last season, but I just cant understand why the computer (Algorithm) scheduled us this way! Feels imbalanced!
We can hardly complain at the fixture computer after our first five fixtures of the season were Palace a, Leicester H, Bournemouth a, Fulham H, Villa H.
I would rather face those teams at home now and get some points on board. There’s no guarantee what’s gonna happen in the 2nd half of the season with injuries, fatigue and suspensions particularly after an unprecedented world cup break. We lost to Crystal Palace, Brighton and Southampton while managing to win against Chelsea, MU and Westham with a seemingly depleted squad. Get some points on board as early as we can before injuries and fatigue starts to affect the team. City and Liverpool looks poor this season and doesn’t seem like they are going to invest much this window.
Arsenal won that 3rd replay with Liverpool 1-0, but crazy times nonetheless
Lets not get ahead of ourselves, ok as much I’m in a arsenal wonderland at the moment after Fulham/ Villa which i & u expect 6 points we have a tricky bunch of opponents coming up, love Miki’s reality check comments & our new found optimism but we are still a work in progress, saying that its great being TOTL at the moment a wonderful buzz on these warm sunny days
A winter World Cup in Qatar is a travesty