Premier League fixtures: No season has ever seemed so tough

The fixture list for the upcoming Premier League season was released this week and it is remarkable only in that it seems to be so ridiculously difficult.

Maybe it is purely a matter of perception, but there scarcely seems to be a month where there isn’t a blockbuster fixture to contend with. Even matches against the lesser lights seem more daunting now than ever before.

This time last year, for example, I would have looked at the two Leicester City matches and thought ‘six points’. This time around – and although I suspect the Foxes won’t do quite so well as they did last year – they look a different prospect.

Of course, there are the games against the likes of Hull City and Middlesbrough, who will be find it tough to stay up, but there is a plethora of competition this year. The days of steam-rolling through two thirds of the league are gone, the easy 3-0 and 4-0 wins a thing of the past.

There is so much money in the league now, and so many billionaire owners, that even teams in the bottom half are well capable of getting a result away from home.

That’s enough money even, for the lower-ranked teams to fund hugely expensive transfers for pretty solid players, making them a much tougher proposition than was once the case.

In short, it’s going to be a tough season, maybe as tough as any season we have faced in the Premier League era.

In days gone by, the pressure of the impending season end would only really start to build in and around March and April. Last season, the league was won and lost with almost every game.

I expect that burden of scrutiny and expectation will only intensify when our first match rolls around in August.

Our first two matches of the new season perfectly illustrate that point: Liverpool and Leicester. They could prove two fiendishly difficult games, and not exactly the sort of start you would want when you’re looking to ease into a season.

A few ‘gimme’ matches against relegation contenders would help the kick the season off and get a bit of momentum behind a team which needs every bit if confidence it can get.

I fear that two draws or, perish the thought, two defeats, could re-light the fuse of an already testy section of Arsenal fans.

But perhaps I’m being too pessimistic. Perhaps getting two big games like those out of the way in the first two weeks is just what we need. Who knows, we may even catch our opponents by surprise, rack up two wins and not have to worry about facing them again later in the season, when the league will have an altogether different complexion.

However you look at it, our work is cut out for us. We’ve made a decent start to the transfer window, so here’s hoping we can keep that momentum going, make a few more signings and fly out of the traps next season.

Hold on to your hats!

 

Fixtures

August

13: Liverpool (h)

20: Leicester (a)

27: Watford (a)

 

September

10: Southampton (h)

17: Hull City (a)

24: Chelsea (h)

 

October

01: Burnley (a)

15: Swansea City (h)

22: Middlesbrough (h)

29: Sunderland (a)

 

November

05: Tottenham Hotspur (h)

19: Manchester United (a)

26: Bournemouth (h)

 

December

03: West Ham United (a)

10: Stoke City (h)

14: Everton (a)

17: Manchester City (a)

26: West Bromwich Albion (h)

31: Crystal Palace (h)

 

January

02: Bournemouth (a)

14: Swansea City (a)

21: Burnley (h)

31: Watford (h)

 

February

04: Chelsea (a)

11: Hull City (h)

25: Southampton (a)

 

March

04: Liverpool (a)

11: Leicester City (h)

18: West Bromwich Albion (a)

 

April

01: Manchester City (h)

04: West Ham United (h)

08: Crystal Palace (a)

15: Middlesbrough (a)

22: Sunderland (h)

29: Tottenham Hotspur (a)

 

May

06: Manchester United (h)

13: Stoke City (a)

21: Everton (h)

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