Feeling a little jealous and insecure now that the World Cup is getting all the attention, the Premier League released their official fixture list for the new 2018/19 season on the morning of the day Russia 2018 was due to start. Thunder stealers.
Typically, supporters like to scan through the fixtures when they are announced, eagerly plotting the journey their team takes, picking out the easy and most difficult sequences of games along with the derbies and clashes with their main rivals. Of course, the calendar has yet to be decimated and re-assembled by the big-wig TV executives, though we still have a decent general idea about who plays who and when.
Let’s take a closer look at how the fixture list could affect the race for places at both ends of the table next season.
New Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been thrown in at the deep end by the Premier League fixture computer as champions Man City travel south to the Emirates in the first weekend of matches. The Gunners follow that up with a trip across London to take on Chelsea in their first away game of the season to complete a brace of intimidating opening contests.
North London rivals Spurs face the prospect of three away matches in their first four fixtures after they were given special dispensation and extra time to complete the work on their new stadium. Spur’s opponents for the inaugural match at their new home is against Liverpool – a mouth watering clash that promises to open the new venue in style on the weekend of September 15/16.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who will be hoping to improve on their 4th place finish last season, play Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal inside their first six away trips. Klopp is likely to be further miffed by Liverpool’s domestic scheduling around their Champions League dates. The Reds are due to play away from home in the Premier League before each of their games in Europe’s elite club competition.
Premier League new boys Wolves and Fulham begin life at the top with home games against Marco Silva’s Everton and Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace respectively, while Neil Warnock takes his Cardiff City side south to The Vitality Stadium to play Bournemouth.
Man Utd and Liverpool kick of the new campaign in front of their own fans with eminently winnable matches against Leicester City and West Ham, while Huddersfield Town, whose point against Chelsea in May secured their top flight status, play the Blues again on match day one in 2018/19.
Newcastle United have the toughest start of all to contend with. The Magpies play Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man Utd inside their first eight games. Ouch.
The first Manchester derby of the season between last year’s top two, takes places at the Etihad on November 10th and the teams meet again at Old Trafford on the 16th of March – which is probably a little early to be billed as a title decider.
Arsenal and Spurs must wait until December 1st before they get their teeth into each other in the league and the second North London derby of the new season is scheduled for March 2nd.
The Merseyside derby’s first offering also lands on December 1st (isn’t that a stroke of completely random luck for the broadcasters), when Everton cross Stanley Park to lock horns with Liverpool at Anfield. The Merseyside rivals meet again on….yes…..you guess it…..March 2nd. Can you Adam and Eve it?
Title Contender Run-ins
Looking at their calendar, champions Manchester City would be huge favourites to retain their title if they can make it to their final five fixtures still in contention near the top of the table. The Citizens close the season with alternate trips to Crystal Palace and Burnley with home matches against Tottenham and Leicester in between. They finish their campaign with an away match against Brighton & Hove Albion. In fact, Spurs are the only team from last year’s top four that City have to play in the last two months of the 2018/19 season.
Neighbours Manchester United, who are again expected to be City’s main challengers, finish their season with home games against West Ham and Chelsea, with away trips to Everton and Huddersfield sandwiched in between. The fixture computer has been relatively kind to both Manchester clubs in the season’s final throes, with United kicking their last ball against newly promoted Cardiff at Old Trafford on May 12th.
Liverpool will love the look of the final three months of their schedule and on paper at least, they should be able to rack up the points in March, April and May. Everton (a), Burnley (h), Fulham (a), Spurs (h), Southampton (a), Chelsea (h), Cardiff (a), Huddersfield (h), Newcastle (a) and Wolves (h) all look like fixtures that Pool can take something from. Could Klopp’s men take advantage of their kind scheduling and finally make a title push?
Tottenham must navigate trips to the Etihad and Anfield inside their last three away fixtures at a time of year when every dropped point means a great deal. Similarly, Chelsea travel to Old Trafford and Anfield in two of their last three 2018/19 Premier League away matches – games that could have a huge impact on their fortunes.
The Relegation Dog Fight
Favourites with the bookies to go straight down, Cardiff City will have to do things the hard way if they are involved near the foot of the table come March. Inside the Bluebirds last six fixtures, they face the prospect of going toe-to-toe with Man City at the Etihad, Liverpool in Wales and then Man Utd at Old Trafford on the final day.
Huddersfield Town, priced at 6/5 to make a Premier League exit have an equally taunting final sextet of matches with games scheduled away at Spurs and Liverpool with a home clash with Man Utd pencilled in for the 4th of May. With a run-in like that, the Terriers might need to win away at Southampton on the final weekend of the season to guarantee their safety for another year.
Fulham are the bookmaker’s 3rd pick for the drop, though the Cottagers will be buoyed by the how their Premier League fixtures have fallen in the final weeks of the season. Their last six matches are Watford (a), Everton (h), Bournemouth (a), Cardiff City (h), Wolves (a) and Newcastle (h) on the final day. Fulham’s meeting with fellow relegation favourites Cardiff at Craven Cottage on April 27th already looks key.
Key Fixtures Guide
10/11/2018 Manchester City v Manchester United
16/03/2019 Manchester United v Manchester City
North London derby
01/12/2018 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur
02/03/2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
01/12/2018 Liverpool v Everton
02/03/2019 Everton v Liverpool
Opening Weekend Fixtures:
Arsenal v Manchester City
Bournemouth v Cardiff City
Fulham v Crystal Palace
Huddersfield Town v Chelsea
Liverpool v West Ham United
Manchester United v Leicester City
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Southampton v Burnley
Watford v Brighton and Hove Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton
Last Day of the Season
Brighton v Manchester City
Burnley v Arsenal
Crystal Palace v Bournemouth
Fulham v Newcastle United
Leicester City v Chelsea
Liverpool v Wolves
Manchester United v Cardiff City
Southampton v Huddersfield Town
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
Watford v West Ham United
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