Arsenal fans have reacted with mixed feelings after the new Premier League fixtures were announced giving the Gunners a testing opening round of games.
Unai Emery’s side go to Newcastle for their opening match of the 2019/20 top-flight campaign (to be screened live on Sky Sports, 2pm on August 11). Then it’s the opening game of the term at the Emirates when Burnley are the visitors. Next up is a tough test with a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool, the current European Champions. And the final match of the first four sees north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur arriving in the red half of the capital.
A long trip to the North East is always difficult and with the passionate Toon fans fired up in support of their team the Gunners will have to contend with an inhospitable atmosphere. Ian Nicholson, a season ticket holder and regular attendee of away matches, says the outcome of the fixture is up in the air. But with a regime change a possibility at St James’ Park — moneybags Sheikh Khaled’s is said to be weighing up a takeover — the team Arsenal face could be boosted with new signings.
The plumber from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, said:
“Rafa Benitez may or may not be the manager and their spending may go through the roof if Sheikh Khaled takes over, so it’s unclear just what kind of team we’ll face. Last season Newcastle finished 13th and didn’t have the best of times but then again, under Mike Ashley, they didn’t have bundles of money to spend on players.”
One way or another the game against the Magpies is certainly one which can be won. And it has to be said that so can the encounter with the Clarets, beaten by the Londoners on the last day of last season at Turf Moor.
Reds fan Will Johnson, from Barnet, believes Sean Dyche’s side are there for the taking but he is concerned, he says, about the lack of activity in the transfer market so far this summer. He said:
“Surely we have enough about us to beat Burnley at home? But we need a decent influx of talent to be sure of a good start to the season. We finished on a low by not qualifying for the Champions League and we have players who are on their way out of the club. I hope we can get some business done early.”
Gooner John Henry, from Guildford, Surrey, says the best Arsenal can hope for from a trip to Anfield is a draw, adding:
“Our recent record on Merseyside isn’t the greatest. Liverpool are on a high and already you have to chalk that down as a defeat. Getting a point there would be superb but don’t hold your breath.”
Then Emery’s outfit host Tottenham and fans will hope they can register a repeat of the 4-2 victory last season. Nikki Hayes, from Leicester, says the game is a must-win. She said:
“To set our marker for the season we really must win over the enemy. We don’t play them at their new ground until April so winning this one would give us something to smile about for a few months at least.”