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Last season, Arsenal started slowly and it cost them. Big time. A loss against newly-promoted Brentford on the opening day was followed by losses to Chelsea and Manchester City, leaving Arsenal bottom of the league three games into the season. At the end of the season, a win in just one of those games would've left them in fourth place.
Circumstances certainly weren't in Arsenal's favour for the opening games however. They had multiple Covid-19 cases and absences through injuries. In fact, of the team that started against Brentford, only four players would keep their place in the North London derby, played just over a month later.
However Arsenal aren't completely faultless. They had left the majority of their summer signings until after the season had started and perhaps would've walked away from the opening three with more, had those been completed quicker.
This season, it is especially imperative that Arsenal get their business done quickly and start the season well.
In an unprecedented plan due to the heat of the host nation, Qatar, the 2022 World Cup will be played in the middle of the regular season. In November players will join their nations to play the tournament, lasting until mid-December.
Arsenal, among the other top teams in the country, will have the majority of their squad and best players leave for Qatar and the effects of this will undoubtedly be huge.
Players are playing more games than ever. The breaks are getting rarer and the intensity is only increasing. It is the unfortunate reality of the situation that in deciding to place this tournament in Qatar and in the middle of the season, player welfare has been completely ignored in favour of the money that will arrive in return. For the teams most affected by the World Cup, it is inevitable players will return fatigued and very possibly injured.
It is possible Arsenal will have a slight advantage in the fact a lot of their players will likely play bit-part roles for their nations. Players such as Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel, William Saliba, Sambi Lokonga and Emile Smith Rowe have either recently received their first call-ups or have stronger players in their positions so are unlikely to play massive amounts.
However for players such as Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey and Takehiro Tomiyasu, there will be no such luxury. In the case of Partey and Tomiyasu Arsenal will be particularly concerned, considering recent injury trouble. Arsenal fans with no affiliation to either of their respective nations will almost certainly be hoping for early exits for both.
Crucially, Arsenal will have 16 games before the World Cup. Eight will be at home, eight will be away and Arsenal will play each of the other members of last season's top six.
Come November, it is vital Arsenal have left themselves in a good position. Among those tightly packed Premier League games will be Europa League group stage games and the League Cup early rounds too. Squad depth will be incredibly important for this period.
This season will likely see fixture congestion and injuries like never seen before in the Premier League. If Arsenal can get a quick start and leave themselves in a good position going into the second half of the season, anything could happen as clubs deal with the fall-out. Before that however, Arsenal need to be prepared. It is up to Mikel Arteta and Edu Gaspar now to work to prepare this squad with all the help they can get before they embark on this gruelling period. It will be a vital next two months of this transfer window and how we emerge will likely prove pivotal.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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