Image from BT Sport
With only the transfer window and youth international tournaments filling the sport pages at the moment, it’s becoming quite difficult to get hyped about football over the last few weeks. But on Wednesday, the new season felt a little bit closer with the announcement of the draft fixture list for the 2017/18 Premier League season. We’ve casted an eye over the opening weeks, the frantic Christmas period, and the last-minute run-ins to assess where your team’s most crucial period of the season is. After looking at the fixtures of one half of the Premier League teams yesterday, here’s part two of out fanalysis:
The schedule is actually rather calm for City, in fact Pep Guardiola’s side can easily pick up some early momentum in opening months of the season with their big heavyweight clashes spaced out until up the New Year. However, following the turn of the year, back-to-back games against Arsenal and Chelsea in February and March, and also with United and Spurs in April, will decide where they end up in the title race.
October threatens to be a tricky month for Jose Mourinho’s men with games against Liverpool and Spurs testing their title chasing resolve. They also have a clash at the Emirates and a Manchester derby in successive Premier League games just before Christmas. Their rematch against the Gunners at Old Trafford will be the third-last game before the close of the season, how pivotal will that be?
It’s hard to see a Newcastle United side under Rafa Benitez too near to the relegation dogfight once again but December could create some fear amongst Toon fans. They visit Chelsea and Arsenal and host City in that month, as well as tricky games against Everton and away to West Ham immediately after. They could get sucked back in to the lower half of the table, but a favourable run of games at the start of 2018 will give them the chance to head back up the table.
If Southampton want to hit the higher echelons of the Premier League table, they’ll have to endure a tough Christmas with trips to Chelsea, Spurs and United along with a home tie against Arsenal. They also face Conte’s men, the Gunners, as well as Everton and Man City in 4 in their last 6 games of the season. So there are some very tricky patches for the Saints over the course of the season.
Stoke face a tough start to the campaign, with five out of the top seven teams from the last campaign in their first 8 games. They also have a daunting run in March and early April, with City, Everton, Arsenal and Spurs in their path, along with tough trips to Southampton and West Ham, so expect any Potters momentum to drop in the New Year.
November is a key month if the Swans want to steer themselves away from yet another relegation fight with games against Brighton, Burnley and Bournemouth all in a row. They have a similar run against roughly the same teams in February where they’ll need to pick up some much-needed points as they have United, Everton, City and Chelsea in March and April.
Spurs are preparing to mount a fresh title challenge at their new home, Wembley Stadium but they face a very similar tough set of fixtures before and after the New Year. They face Liverpool, United and Arsenal in quick succession over the course of October and November and also in January and February, so that along with European football will test their title resolve.
It’s difficult to see how Watford will fare this season but a double header against Arsenal and Chelsea means that games against Swansea, West Brom and Stoke in and around that will be important in order to keep the points ticking over. They also visit Spurs and United towards at the end of the season, so will need to be firmly in mid table ahead of those games.
The Baggies can have a strong start to the season seeing as the first five games against Bournemouth, Burnley, Stoke, Brighton and West Ham are all winnable. However, December could horrid for Tony Pulis’ men with Liverpool, Man United, Everton and Arsenal all waiting for them then. April also seems challenging for Albion with United, Liverpool and Spurs making up three out of their final five matches of the campaign.
Apart from a difficult opening game at Old Trafford, the Hammers have the opportunity to pick up some momentum before December, when they face the tricky triple-header of City Arsenal and Chelsea. More easier matches will appear that so where will the Hammers be in the table when they face the two Manchester clubs, and the Gunners and the reigning champions again in the space of five weeks during March and April?