The long road towards the new season of English football came a step closer today. Around this time every year, the Premier League and FA decide they’ve had enough of watching female tennis players with skimpy outfits on and releases the following season’s fixtures. It means the newspapers can begin to speculate as to who will have the best start to the season and where the title will be decided. It shouldn’t really matter that much as everyone plays each other an equal amount anyways and the best team should pick up the title. Fixtures are usually one of the bones of contention that rouse the conspiracy theories more than anything else though.
At this early stage – that is almost a full two months until the campaign gets underway – we can already tell that Sir Alex will be moaning come the end of September as his team languishes in third place. Yes I said languishes.
Manchester United open up the campaign with a trip to West Brom, followed by home games against Tottenham and Arsenal. After this they travel to Bolton and then host Chelsea. That means three of the top five in the first five games of the season and the sensationalists will point to the title being done and dusted by late September. Sky will be having a field day.
Their opponents in late-September, Chelsea, may not have a manager but their start is a deal more straightforward. Opening with a trip to Stoke, the Blues then host West Brom and Norwich at Stamford Bridge. It looks like being another of those seasons where the side captained by John Terry open up the campaign with +400 goal difference. Just got to find that manager first lads
Another contender that has a far-less taxing opening than United are cross-city rivals City. Starting off at Eastlands against Swansea City, they then have matches against Bolton, Tottenham, Wigan and Fulham. City will be looking to show the world that money can still win league titles. Whether that will happen it remains to be seen. The first of the matches between the two sides takes place at Old Trafford on 22nd October with the return on 28th April.
If the title’s not wrapped up by then it could be a compelling end to the season. Even with this fixture list release it’s very hard to look past the last two champions for the destination of next season’s trophy. The only question that remains is when are the Premier League going to get their alcohol sponsor? “The Premier League in association with Moet” certainly has a ring to it.