So the fixtures are out, not long after the completion of the 2011 season. Here are some of the matches I’ve circled and already entered on my calendar. In a month or so we’ll find out which of the first few matches are moved to Sunday kickoffs, and who gets the early and late Saturday kickoffs in the ‘primetime’ television spots.
Opening Week — August 13
Swansea gets the toughest assignment of the promoted sides, starting at Man City. Norwich has a winnable match at Wigan, and only the newest London side, QPR, opens at home, against Bolton. The champions start their defense at West Brom, while the pick of the week is probably Liverpool v Sunderland, a match that has provided terrific entertainment over the last few years.
Matches between the big clubs
Arsenal v Liverpool gets us started on Gameweek 2, in a match that could very well be moved to Sunday August 21. Spurs might get the late kickoff Saturday the 20th when they go back to “the scene of the crime” with Nani and United at Old Trafford. Arsenal visit United in week 3 in a humongous clash on the 27th or 28th of August with City at White Hart Lane the same weekend. Chelsea also have an early trip to Old Trafford this season, visiting on the 17th or 18th of September in Gameweek 5. The massive first clash has United at Anfield on October 15/16 in Gameweek 8.
Sunderland v Newcastle in Gameweek 2 August 20
Gunners @ White Hart Lane as well as Everton v Liverpool on October 1
West Brom v Wolves October 15
Man United v Man City October 22
Chelsea v Arsenal October 29
With a Sunday Christmas, the teams are scheduled to play on Monday Boxing Day Dec 26, then on New Year’s Eve Saturday and again with New Year’s fixtures on the Monday January 2 bank holiday. The pick of those matches looks like Man City v Liverpool on January 2. Fulham has derbies at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day and then home to Arsenal on the 2nd.
United’s visit to the Emirates comes relatively early, on January 21/22 and their Stamford Bridge visit is 2 weeks later on February 4/5. Liverpool’s Old Trafford trip is also early, on February 11/12. Spurs are at the Emirates on February 25/26 with Arsenal at Anfield the following weekend. Man City come to London for their Emirates visit on April 7/8. The Arsenal v Chelsea derby is later, on April 21/22.
A huge late game will be United’s Eastlands crosstown trip on April 28/29. United then host Swansea before finishing at the Stadium of Light on Sunday the 13th of May. The season ends earlier this year due to the Euros. After the derby, City go to Newcastle and host QPR. Chelsea finish QPR, @ Liverpool, Blackburn. Arsenal are @Stoke, Norwich, @West Brom, with Liverpool closing @Norwich, Chelsea, @Swansea. Spurs close with Blackburn, @Villa, Fulham. A potential season-closing 6-pointer is Wigan v Wolves, with Blackburn v Wigan and QPR v Stoke the week before. Note that the FA Cup Final will be the 12th of May, so final Gameweek fixtures will be moved; could that result in non-simultaneous matches to decide the title or relegation??
With my Hammers relegated to the ‘nPower’, I see that we start life with a very tricky home fixture to Cardiff on the 6th of August. I’ll be fascinated to see what the kickoff time will be for the September 17 trip to Millwall. Perhaps 7 am London time?!? The final Gameweek for that league will be April 28, so that play-offs can be completed in plenty of time for the Euros.
Which matches have you circled?