This pre-season, Arsenal have been in excellent form. The Gunners boast a 100% winning record in all 5 pre-season games, scoring 15 goals, conceding just once, and lifting the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Emirates Cup and the Community Shield.
Clearly these trophies lack the gravitas of a Premier League or Champions League title, but Arsene Wenger believes a strong pre-season builds confidence going into a new campaign and a strong start will be crucial for an Arsenal side aiming to win the Premier League for the first time since 2004.
11 years ago, prior to the 04/05 season, Arsenal went unbeaten during their 6 pre-season games and enjoyed a thoroughly successful start to their campaign, winning 10 and drawing 3 of their opening 13 fixtures (in all competitions), halted by the loss to Manchester United and the end of their infamous 49-game unbeaten run.
After winning the Amsterdam and Emirates tournaments at the start of the 2007/08 season, Arsenal enjoyed one of their best ever starts to a campaign, where their first defeat came against Sevilla in the Champions League on the 27th November, and their first domestic defeat on the 9th December away to Middlesborough.
Arsenal also enjoyed a successful pre-season back in 2010/11, during which the Gunners won 5 and drew 1 of their 6 matches. This form was subsequently replicated in the first 5 competitive matches of the season, in which Arsenal drew their first game of the season away to Liverpool before going on to win their next 4 games in a row.
The following season however, Arsenal endured a rather less successful pre-season stint, winning just two of their six games and finishing 3rd in their very own Emirates Cup. This trend of poor form continued into the start of the competitive season as the Gunners suffered their worst start in the league for 58 years, losing 4 of their opening 7 Premier League matches, including the humiliating 8-2 loss to Manchester United.
Similarly, during last year’s pre-season, Arsenal won 2 and lost 2, including missing out on the Emirates Cup. The Gunners went on to win just 3 of their opening 9 games and by the end of November, were already 13 points behind eventual winners Chelsea.
In fact, in at least 10 of the last 12 years, Arsenal’s pre-season form has provided a clear indication of their likely early season form, so having already won two pre-season trophies this summer, as well as the Community Shield – representing Arsene Wenger’s first ever victory over Jose Mourinho – Arsenal fans should look forward with confidence to the start of this campaign.
And who knows what the Gunners can go onto achieve by the end of it…