Tuesday 17 October 2017

7 talking points thrown up by the Premier League fixture list

It looks like a tough opening day for Tottenham.

By Kameron Virk

The Premier League fixtures for 2017/18 have been announced.

Here, Press Association Sport’s Simon Lovell takes a look at some of the talking points.

1. Tottenham’s first game at Wembley is against the only team better than them last season.

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Spurs fans will have hoped for an appealing start to life at Wembley – the venue for their home matches next season as their new stadium is being built – and Chelsea should fit the bill.

Maurico Pochettino’s first Premier League “home” match will be against the only team to finish above them last season.

2. That Christmas period doesn’t get any easier.

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Managers new to the Premier League acknowledge adapting to the busiest fixture list in the world is one of their biggest challenges.

The 2017/18 campaign finishes a week earlier than this year because of the World Cup in Russia – with clubs again facing four games in 10 days between December 23 and January 1.

3. There will be at least one unhappy manager in north London.

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Arsene Wenger expressed his frustration at facing away trips in the Premier League after gruelling European jaunts. The 2017/18 domestic calendar does him few favours, with just one of Arsenal’s six Europa League ties followed by a Premier League home game. In contrast, five out of Tottenham’s six Champions League games are followed by a home game.

4. Huddersfield’s run-in is the stuff of nightmares.

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Huddersfield’s chances of hitting the ground running may be helped by the fact they do not have any of the big guns in their first six games. However, the back end of the season is not quite as appealing.

The Terriers, back among English football’s big boys for the first time in 45 years, face Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City and Arsenal in an intimidating run-in.

5. There are some tasty weekends in the North West.

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The weekends of December 9/10 and April 7/8 are big ones in the North West, with red and blue meeting in two cities. Liverpool host Everton at Anfield in December, while the first Manchester derby of the season sees United and City meet at Old Trafford.

The returns are due to take place four months later.

6. It’s the little things that count.

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Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Newcastle are the only three teams to start and finish at home and have a Boxing Day clash in front of their own fans. In contrast, Manchester City, Leicester and Stoke are away in all three rounds.

7. Sam Allardyce has still got some influence.

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Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce said early last year it was “diabolical” that top-flight clubs had fixtures the Tuesday and Wednesday after FA Cup third-round weekend. The Premier League appeared to listen, as there was no midweek league programme earlier this year.

Although Allardyce is no longer a top-flight manager, choosing to retire this summer, those who are will be pleased to see the situation is unchanged in 2018.

Press Association

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