Arsenals season will turn on four matches, played back to back, staring on Wednesday 27th January and finishing on Wednesday 10th February. They play Aston Villa, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool in a row.
If they come through these matches relatively unscathed then there run in is one of the easiest on record. The only real tests will come against Man City and Spurs and whilst these will be tough games they represent a small percentage of the point on offer after the Liverpool match.
Furthermore, starting the run of games towards the end of the transfer window will given Wenger sufficient time to purchase a striker that will add something different to his current group.
I recall how Arsenal went on a run of winning 10 games in a row to clinch the title in 1998. Their fixture list is primed for a repeat of this. Thursday 11th February will be the date when we can decide whether the title has a chance of returning to Arsenal. If they are within touching distance then I venture to say it will be theirs for the taking.
The World Cup is going to be held in Africa for the first time. Given that the successful team tends to be from the confederation that is hosting the tournament maybe this could be the time for an African team to come to the front and win the tournament.
The team with the best chance, on paper, has to be Ivory Coast. There is a good spine to the team and Didier Drogba has the ability to score a goal out of nothing. However, it is very questionable whether they will even go through to the knockout stages. They have been drawn in this years ‘Group of Death’ along with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.
It was unfortunate really given that they were bound to come up against one of the seven seeded teams (they could not be drawn against South Africa as they are from the same confederation). The real kick in the teeth was drawing Portugal. Although not at there best in qualifying they are still a force to be reckoned with, particularly with Ronaldo showing the kind of form he is for Real Madrid.
All of the groups are forced into a holes; one confederation can’t play the other (unless its Europe), eight teams are seeded, an unseeded South American team can not play a qualified African team, an Asian team can not play a team from Central and North America. This puts all unseeded teams at a disadvantage as only a relative few get the ‘luck of the draw’. Luck has almost been minimised through careful planning.
In order to give good teams like the Ivory Coast a chance of succeeding the draw should be random, aside from the host nation being drawn in shot A1 so that they play the first game. I will conduct such a draw and report back on my Groups.
Behind the times I know but the computer has been playing sily buggers. This is the first opportunity to post after the draw; here’s what I think:
A lot has been written about the World Cup draw; England’s fantastic group and the group of death in particular. All of the seeded teams aside from Brazil have it relatively easy (France being seeded in the eyes of FIFA).
The real competition of the World Cup will come for the battle in Group D for second place. Assuming that Germany will play as well as they can then any one of Ghana, Australia and Serbia could come second. This will be a fantastically competitive group as each team plays with real grit and determination.
In addition, and for the benefit of England, second place in Group D will likely play England, winners of Group C. Hopefully they will be very tired after their exertions.