Arsenal: 5 Must-Win Premier League Games for the Gunners
We regroup again, Arsenal fans!
Another offseason is almost in the books. Another preseason has gone horribly wrong. And another cinder block has been placed on the shoulders of our players to perform at the highest level and finally bring home silverware.
I am sure that the Arsenal players don't need to be reminded how important this upcoming campaign is, but if they need to know which games may be absolutely essential to a successful season, I have them covered.
Here is a list of five games that Arsenal just can't afford to lose if they want to bring home the crown.
Note: This is not a list of the most entertaining games of next season or a list of games vs biggest teams (Ie. @United, @Chelsea) but a list of five games that if gone wrong, could be detrimental to the Arsenal season. Enjoy!
Aug. 13 @ Newcastle
Game: Away @ Newcastle
Significance: First game of the season, Revenge on the Magpies
The Verdict: Of course, the first game of any season has some extra meaning to it. A win would boost Arsenal to the top of the table as well as boost player morale in the locker room. A loss would feed the critics a heck of a feast, and keep fans aimlessly wondering if they will ever get their 14th English title.
Keep in mind that this game is being played at St. James Park, the same place where the Gunners choked away a 4-nil lead in the second half of a game that proved to be devastating to Arsenal’s 2011 Premier League campaign.
So before Arsenal start dreaming of hoisting up the Premier League trophy again, they have to finish off the Magpies once and for all on the road.
Aug. 20 vs Liverpool
Game: Home vs. Liverpool
Significance: Home opener, Must produce for the fans
The Verdict: But it doesn’t get any easier after Newcastle. Wenger and his men will open up their home season against Liverpool the following week in what should be a thrilling matchup.
Last season, the rivalry included Pepe Reina’s infamous fumble and an extra time extravaganza that left football fans desperate for more.
Even if the Gunners don’t bring three points home against Newcastle, a win against Liverpool would keep Arsenal fans content (at least for a little while).
A loss would result in transfer market madness, in which Wenger would desperately try to make up for his previous signing mishaps. For Arsenal, it can’t get any clearer how important this game is.
Feb. 11 @ Sunderland
Game: Away @ Sunderland
Significance: Trap game with UCL and big EPL games following
The Verdict: This matchup is the definition of a “trap game” for Arsenal. For the Gunners, the Sunderland (Away) game couldn’t come at a worse time, with the Champions League Sweet 16 just a few days after followed by tough games against Tottenham, and Liverpool in league play.
For an inexperienced Gunners team, it would be very easy to look past Sunderland and anticipate the primetime showings instead of the Mackems matchup. Also, after arduously working the transfer market all summer, Sunderland is a dangerous team that could compete for a top-eight finish in the EPL.
With that being said, Arsenal better not get ahead of themselves when travelling to the Stadium of Light on Feb. 11.
May 13 @ West Brom
Game: Away at West Brom
Significance: Last game of the season
The Verdict: As soccer players, you learn at a very young age that it is a necessity to end on a strong note, something that Arsenal simply did not do last season. Arsenal picked up just six points in their final seven games last season, enough to demote them to fourth place by mid-May.
With fans anxious over trophies, the final game of the season is a must-win for Arsene Wenger and his men. Three points last year was the difference between second and fourth place. Three points this year could have a whole lot more significance.
Oct. 2 @ Tottenham
Game: Away @ Tottenham
Significance: Derby Matchup, Arsenal have not won at WHL in EPL since 2007
The Verdict: The Gunners’ annual appearance at White Hart Lane will be a must-win for Arsenal in 2011. It comes at a time where Wenger will have to demonstrate his depth, with the team likely playing multiple Champions League matches and league matches already that week.
It comes in a place where Arsenal haven’t won in the EPL since 2007, and have struggled repetitively the last couple of years. And it comes against a team who would want nothing more than to temporarily own North London after a derby win.
But no matter how much I hype it, I don’t think I need to remind Arsenal how important this game actually is.