Friday 20 April 2018

Chelsea have most to cheer after release of next season's fixture list

Mark Fleming

champions Chelsea would appear to have been handed a significant advantage by the Premier League computer with yesterday's announcement of next season's fixtures. Carlo Ancelotti's Double winners will have home matches on the weekends that follow mid-week group stage matches of the Champions League five times out of six.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson is likely to be furious that his side are at home only twice following the first six Champions League games, with four away trips including a visit to Chelsea on December 18.

The matches immediately following Champions League encounters posed particular problems for United last season. They lost seven times in the Premier League in 2009-10, and five of those occurred the weekend after a Champions League fixture, including two defeats to Chelsea.

Arsenal have been treated more evenly, with three home games and three away following their six Champions League group games. The advantage for Chelsea cont-inues into the second half of the season when the knock-out stages of the Champions League begin.

In the first two rounds, international fixtures account for two weekends following midweek fixtures, leaving two weekends for domestic fixtures. Of those two weekends, Chelsea are at home twice, while United are at home once and away once, and Arsenal are away twice.

The fixture list has also given Chelsea a relatively easy start to the defence of their title, with an opening home game against promoted side West Brom followed by Wigan Athletic away, Stoke at home, West Ham United away and Blackpool at home.

Liverpool's new manager faces a tough baptism with a home game with Arsenal on the opening day of the new Premier League season. Kenny Dalglish and Roy Hodgson are the two favourites to succeed Rafael Benitez, whose six-year reign ended two weeks ago, and whoever lands the job will face Arsene Wenger on August 14.

important dates -- Aug14: Liverpool v Arsenal, Man Utd v Newcastle, Tottenham v Man City. Sept 18: Man Utd v Liverpool. Oct 2: Chelsea v Arsenal. Oct 16: Everton v Liverpool. Oct 30: Aston Villa v Birmingham, Newcastle Utd v Sunderland. Nov 10: Man City v Man Utd. Nov 20: Arsenal v Tottenham. Dec 11: Man Utd v Arsenal. Dec 18: Chelsea v Man Utd. Dec 26: Arsenal v Chelsea. Jan 15: Birmingham v Aston Villa, Liverpool v Everton, Sunderland v Newcastle Utd Feb 12: Man Utd v Man City. Feb 26: Tottenham v Arsenal. Mar 5: Liverpool v Man Utd.

Apr 30: Arsenal v Man Utd. May 7: Man Utd v Chelsea.

Irish Independent

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