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Arsenal Amongst The Teams With Reasons To Be Fearful

Thursday 22nd August 2013
Bruce Halling looks back at last weekend's league action and ponders on what can be learnt from the weekend's games.

The third weekend of the Football League season was also the opening weekend of the Premier League season, meaning that for the first time this season all 92 teams were in action. Here are some of the things we learnt from an action-packed weekend:

• Arsenal's Chances of a Top Four Finish Look Bleak

You can never downplay the importance of a good start, and while all the other teams expecting to challenge for honours this season all got off to a winning start, Arsenal found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 defeat by a team who spent much of last season in the relegation zone. I don't mean to be disrespectful to Aston Villa, because the early signs are that they could well have a much better campaign this time around, but to be challenging at the top end of the table, these are the types of games you have to win.

Of course, another 37 games remain and anything can happen but a poor first result sums up Arsenal's summer so far. They went into the match making all the right noises and with plenty of intent, but they couldn't do the business when it mattered most and the end result is they find themselves on the back foot right from the start. Whether Arsene Wenger can get any transfer business done over the next ten days may well be largely irrelevant - it looks like it may be a tough season ahead for the Gunners.

• Steve Lomas Needs To Learn Quickly

There won't be many people surprised to see Millwall propping up the Championship after three games, given they were amongst the favourites for relegation before the season started, but the manner of their start will have alarm bells ringing. In their opening three games of the season, they have already faced two other sides tipped by many to struggle and have come out without as much as a goal to show for their efforts.

Steve Lomas is new in the job after his arrival from St. Johnstone in the summer and already it looks like he is feeling the pressure after being booed by his own fans during Saturday's defeat by Huddersfield and he certainly doesn't have the luxury of time to settle in the job, as the games will continue to come thick and fast. The longer it takes Lomas and his side to get that first win on the board, the tougher the job of survival is going to be this season.

• Carlisle: Relegation Dead-Certs?

I know it's incredibly early to be tipping anybody for the drop, but Carlisle's start to the season has been absolutely atrocious. After three matches, their defence has leaked thirteen goals, they've only scored once for themselves and the team already look like they've had the stuffing knocked out of them. Over the years it's been proven time and time again that if you have a really poor start to the season it can be very difficult to play catch-up, and Greg Abbott's side at the moment look a million miles away from recording a win.

Like Millwall above, this is a team in desperate need of a win to give them a boost and some reason to believe that this season isn't going to be a lost cause. The nature of the performance to get them that victory is largely irrelevant in many ways, because the team just needs to get a result more than anything else at the moment. The key is going to be finding a way to stop haemorrhaging goals as they have done in the opening three games. Once they've sorted the problem at the back out, they might be able to start taking steps forward.

• Competitiveness of Newly-Promoted Sides is Bad News for League Two Strugglers

The two new teams in the Football League, Newport County and Mansfield, have shown enough in their opening three games to suggest they are going to be able to compete very well in this division, with Newport in particular impressing people with the manner of their performances. Two wins out of three for Justin Edinburgh's side is an extremely promising start, while Mansfield have also got their first win on the board and look like a side that is going to comfortably slot into mid-table.

What this means is that the battle for relegation has been thrown wide open, and with the likes of Dagenham and Wimbledon - who both narrowly avoided the drop last season - having decent starts this time around, it looks as though it could be very open in the bottom third of the table. That said, Accrington's presence at the bottom of the table in particular looks as though it could be a sign of things to come this season.
Bruce Halling
Bruce is a 24-year-old self-confessed Football League addict and author of the 'Road To The Promised Land' column. He is a passionate Southend United fan who has witnessed the Shrimpers' rise to the Championship as well as their more recent fall back to their current position in League Two. Though he doesn’t get to many games as a spectator, he has worked at Southend, Colchester United and now Queens Park Rangers as a steward, so is never too far away from the action on a matchday. Away from football, he is a Politics graduate and currently jobhunting. Follow Bruce on Twitter @brucehalling

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