Pundits and fans often complain about the predictability of the Premier League. Looking at the fixtures announced for the 2008/2009 season, the fixtures themselves seem awfully predictable too.
There’s the token match pitting the newly promoted side against one of the top clubs. This August, it’s West Bromwich Albion away against Arsenal. Last season it was newly promoted Sunderland against Tottenham. And if you think back to previous seasons, you’ve seen Chelsea take on then newly promoted Wigan, and Liverpool battle at Sheffield United during the opening weekend.
Then there are the matches between the Big Four that predictably happen around the same time of the season. Manchester United’s match against Arsenal at Old Trafford was played in April this past season. Next season it’s scheduled in May. The reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium is scheduled for November 9th. Last season they played on November 3rd. The predictability continues when Man United plays Liverpool on March 15, 2009. Last season they played on March 23.
For the matches involving the Big Four, the games are spread throughout the season to make the league more interesting. Imagine how much chaos would be created if the Big Four all were randomly selected to play their matches against each other by the end of October. The rest of the season, for many fans, would be meaningless.
At the opposite end of the season, you don’t see any of the Big Four being matched up against each other on the last day of the season. This upcoming season one of the matches features Liverpool against Spurs. Who did Liverpool play on the last day of last season? You guessed correctly: Tottenham Hotspur.
It makes you wonder how random the fixture computer actually is when you scan through the season and see relatively few surprises. One pleasant and agreeable surprise however is the lack of Grand Slam Sundays.