Palace (a) Fulham (h) Man Utd (h) Everton (a) Spurs (h) Bournemouth (a) Man City (h) Chelsea (a) Sheffield Utd (h)
Is nighttime coming?
And so it all starts again. We have got off to a good start by dominating Notts Forest, but as usual, it seems, there are 2 dark clouds on the horizon. We allowed Forest back into the game and Jurrien Timber is out for the season. As Arteta seemed to have him in mind as first choice, it appears to be a big loss.
One match is never enough to get an idea of our season and we may yet buy someone else or someone critical may get a bad injury. It is really quite blind at this stage and the only sure thing I can say at this moment is that if we win all our matches we will win the league in a canter.
What will be enough to win the league? At a guess I would say maybe 87 points or less. I feel this year is going to be a bit more competitive than last as surely Chelsea, Liverpool and the Spuds will be aiming to do better. That will probably mean the top sides taking more from each other. City are likely to be the benchmark as always and 86 points is their worst winning total of the past 6 years.
What is the real target?
So, can we get 86 or more? If we beat Palace on Monday we will have 6 points. We will then need to average 20 points every nine games to get to 86. Which translate to can we get 20 points out of the above matches after Palace. And yes, I am well aware of what Palace has done to us in the past. And that City may well get beyond 86.
Will Ten Hag be gone by Christmas?
Anyway, for my purposes today, if we don’t beat them we will then need to get an extra 3 points over the average for each nine games.
So Palace away and Roy Hodgson teams have a tendency to be hard to beat. But I do feel that we have a bit more about us this year and as I have said before we have to beat the lower teams to win the league. I am going to go for a hard fought 2-1 win and 3 points. 6 points.
We have to beat the lower teams
If we then beat the lower teams we have 12 points (plus the above 3) meaning we need 8 from Man Utd, Spurs, Man City and Chelsea. 2 wins and 2 draws would give us that or 3 wins gives us nine leaving us one extra as insurance going into the next nine. It is a stark reality that to get the type of points totals routinely garnered by City that you cannot afford to drop many points. It will be a tough difficult season if we are well behind 26 points after these opening 11 matches.
Fulham at home and we have to beat them, simple as that! They finished well last season and started with an away win. They seem tough, organised but we have to be better than them. I am going to go for another 2-1 and 9 points.
Man Utd then at home where last year it was 3-2 and could have gone the other way. They seem to raise their game against us and will probably do so again. They seem to get the rub of the green a lot and could do so again. This could be a draw and our first clean sheet 0-0. 10 points.
Everton the bogey again?
Everton away and we know what Sean Dyche will do. He will play for a draw and hope for better. We find it difficult to break down park the bus teams and Everton have been tricky for us in recent seasons. I fear another sterile 0-0 and 11 points giving us an uphill climb to get to 26. Arteta out is starting to gain momentum among the bandwagon supporters.
We have to beat them
The Spuds at home and they do us a favour by going all Spursy and we beat them 2-0 for 3 clean sheets in a row. Arteta emphasises this to the players that we need to score goals as the defence is doing alright. But 14 points.
Bournemouth away and there is no place for us to hide. We have to win. But we really should and they give us our first high score game as we beat them 4-1. Arteta in is the new shout as we hit 17 points.
Guardiola stabs us in the front
We now have City at home and I really hope we get something from this one. I feel we cannot afford to give them a double again. I am seriously afraid that Guardiola will out strategise us once more and go home laughing to Manchester with 3 points in the bag and a 2-0 win. And still 17 points and we cannot get to the magical 26 points.
We don't want Guardiola smiling
Chelsea away next and it is really difficult to say, at this point, what Pochettino will have done with Chelsea. We have to hope it is not too much or we could be in trouble. A likely result is a draw and normally considered a good point but not now when we need the points. 2-2 and we have made life hard for ourselves. 18 points.
Sheffield United, on the evidence of their first match, look vulnerable. To give ourselves any chance we must win and we do. Another nice score of 2-0 and we are on 21 points, which is five off our target and means we have to have better runs over the next 3 times nine games.
Doing good will not be good enough
Let’s put it into perspective, I have given us one defeat and 3 draws from 11 matches and we will probably have made it hard for us to win the league despite that not being too bad of a run. And I have given us wins over all the weaker teams except a point against Everton.
It emphasises what I have been saying, we must beat the weaker teams all the time and we must, finally, get the better of City. That would give us 24 points and not too far off our target. But in fairness, that target may still not be enough and if City reach the heights they are capable of (100 points) or even above that 86, we will not do it. Arteta has to deal in only one currency and that is wins. We need a level of consistency that is frightening.
Despite all that I am saying, I am optimistic. I feel it will be tighter this season and the top teams will all drop points to allow us to sneak in. In that scenario, we might just do it. And the good thing is that we are in the Champions League. The final will be played at Wembley. Guess who has a great record at Wembley? If Mikel wins that I will be so happy I won’t care where we finish in the league. The Champions league has always been my dream, it would be nice to finally achieve it.