At 9am the English league football fixtures were released allowing fans to get excited or to release a collective sigh. Fans of newly promoted AFC Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich City all waited with excitement to see how their respective sides would be welcomed into top flight football. Watford and Norwich City fans had already experienced the wait for the Premier League fixtures, but for AFC Bournemouth this was the first time. Like a small club waiting for a giantkilling in the FA Cup, fans would wonder who they might host or where they might head to.
Fans of the Cherries found that they would play host on the opening day of the season to FA Cup runners up Aston Villa. Watford travel to Everton and Norwich City play at home to Crystal Palace. For Bournemouth their trickiest tie in the opening few games, is a trip to Anfield. They then don’t play another of the big guns till 17th October when they travel to Manchester City. For Watford, their trip to the title challengers Man City, comes a little earlier in August.Norwich follow up their Palace opener with games against Sunderland, Stoke and Sunderland.
So what beckons for our new boys over the Christmas period, where the games can sometimes have a little glimpse of the outcomes of clubs end of season hopes. For Bournemouth Christmas doesn’t seem too bad, on Boxing Day, they host Crystal Palace, two days later a trip to London and a visit to the Emirates, whilst the new year opens up with a trip to Leicester City. For Norwich City, they travel to London and a visit to Tottenham on Boxing Day, a visit to the Midlands on the 28th and kick off the new year with hosting the Saints on the second.
How does the run in look for our newly promoted teams? Will they be battling for Premier League survival, will they be securing mid table or could they even pull off a top ten spot, who knows. What we do know is that the fixtures in April and May will be crucial to their destiny. For Norwich City, April could be a bad month to play in. Home games against Newcastle,Sunderland and Watford, are combined with two visits to London including Selhurst Park and the Emirates. City fans might need to start praying for miracles in May. With the season brough forward, it means the season finishes two weeks into May. Unfortunately for Norwich they face Man Utd and Everton. Saying that though, we all know what kind of inconsistent form Utd and Everton can have.
The fixtures computer doesnt appear to have given much help to AFC Bournemouth for their run in. For a club that could be fighting for its Premier League survival, they host Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool with trips to Villa and Everton. May holds no help as they host West Brom before a final day game at Old Trafford. The computer doesn’t seem to helpful to Watford either. Four of the last seven games are trips away from home including visits to the Emirates and Anfield along with other promoted side Norwich. If any of these newly promoted sides are going to survive, they best hope for extremely good starts to the season.
What about the Chelsea, the defending champions will be looking to retain the title, but they are going to have a not so easy start. After a home time against Swansea City, the blues find themselves on the road for two weeks running with trips to the Etihad and to the Hawthorns. The September sandwich sees the Blues as the hosts in a meaty tie against rivals Arsenal. Either side of the all London game are visits to Everton and Newcastle.
Christmas and New Year period sees a post Boxing Day clash away to Man United. The victors of this match will feel like they have got an extra Christmas present. Their run in to possibly defending their title wont be easy although May might just prove handy with Leicester and Sunderland, their final two opponents.
Liverpool fans as well as Brendan Rodgers will not be looking too closely at the away fixtures in a hurry. The reds travel to Stoke City in a repeat fixture of the final game of the season. The following away fixtures see Man Utd, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City. Im just glad there are home games mixed as it would be enough to send many red over the edge. I cant imagine Brendan Rodgers will be enjoy the first few months unless the squad is majorly strengthened. The Christmas period seems to be kind to Liverpool and with the seemingly traditional mid Christmas clash with Newcastle gone, it is replaced with a trip to their neighbours Sunderland. Boxing Day sees a home time against Leicester City and the new year sees Liverpool travel to Upton Park. The end of season run in where ever Liverpool may be challenging, sees more home games which could help the Merseysiders. Tottenham Stoke, Newcastle and Watford all have to go to Anfield in the month of April and May. If Rodgers is to survive past Christmas then he knows that his time have no excuses with the run in.
FA Cup winners Arsenal will be hoping to end their Premier League title drought this year. The season sees Wenger’s men start with two games in London and two trips up north. West Ham are the visitors to Arsenal whilst the Gunners visit the south east and Crystal Palace. Arsenal host Liverpool then face a trip to the North East and Newcastle United. Mid September to mid October provides a stern test for the Arsenal consistency. Mid September sees Arsenal travelling to Chelsea and Leicester with Man Utd, Watford, Everton and Swansea completing the line up for October.
November and December is usually when we see Arsenal start to pick it up in the League. November opens up with the North London derby with Spurs visiting the Emirates and then Arsenal pay visits to West Brom and Norwich. The fixtures computer seemed to be full North London joy as Manchester City provide the only toughest test of the month. Should Arsenal be on the title hunt, they will be having a mostly Southern based April. Apart from Sunderland, the Gunners face ties at home to Watford Palace and Norwich with a visit to Upton Park thrown in. The penultimate game for Arsenal is a tricky trip to the Etihad and depending on all that has happened, it could very well have a hand in where the title goes.
Manchester United who find themselves back at a chance of Champions League glory, kick off their season with a visit from Tottenham. Van Gaal will be hoping that his team can have a repeat scoreline of last seasons Old Trafford tie when they beat Spurs 3-0. They will though be hoping to avoid a repeat of the start of last season which is one that the red half of Manchester would be keen to avoid. September and October will provide some stern tests for United. Ties against Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal and Everton may not be quite an easy ride. The Christmas period looks good for Manchester United although a boxing day trip to Stoke followed by a home game against Chelsea, might leave United feeling like the Christmas turkey. The should be no complaints from Louis Van Gaal for the final few fixtures. Games against Spurs and Everton are likely to be the toughtest. Saying that though a home tie against Leicester City might have the United fans having uncomfortable flashbacks. The final two games for United are both the newly promoted Norwich and Championship winners Bournemouth. By then there might not be much to play for, but then again?