Where did the summer go? It seems every year the gap between meaningful games seems to shrink.
Years ago the FA Cup final result would bring in the start of a period where the sports coverage in the news would be dominated by some blokes knocking a ball around a virtually deserted ground and deciding to stop every so often for a cup of tea or if it started to rain.
But now it’s immediately all about the football transfer window and who is going to leave and who will each team buy.
There is, however, one major point in June where we all get our diaries out – or these days phone calendars – to look at the new season’s fixtures and when we will be playing our big rivals.
To be honest the most important ones, for me, are are those around birthdays and anniversaries but to many it’s that opening game, last game and no doubt Boxing Day.
But one other aspect is where do we think we can pick up points and where we might have difficulties. Of course we all will have an opinion but here’s my run down.
Let’s look at those first few fixtures. First up let’s look at those fixtures in August. Those first two are not exactly givens and if we get a point from the games against Citeh and away to Brighton, I will be delighted.
Citeh will come out of the blocks on fire and we are always poor against Brighton. We should get results against Watford and Norwich. But this is West Ham and we know that nothing is guaranteed.
Just take last season where it took us until the end of September to get our first win. Even the season before we didn’t register a win in August so history says my view of seven points is very optimistic and realistically a point would be an improvement on the past.
September brings an international break and as such we have just three fixtures – Villa and Bournemouth away and United at home. History tells me that doesn’t bode well. One win from 10 at Villa Park is not exactly a great return and as for our recent visits to Bournemouth, one win in four does not fill me with hope.
As for United that oddly seems to be the game we should feel more comfortable with. Roll on October where I expect two home wins and a back to the norm performance up at Goodison Park.
It’s true there are no easy fixtures in this league and December proves that. Is there anyone looking forward to that winter midweek game up in Wolverhampton?
Let’s be honest, last season’s visit to the Black Country was one of the worst performances of the year, snow was forecast, it was cold and simply miserable.
The repeat fixture is a month earlier and we can only hope that we don’t see a similar performance.
The fixtures always comes thick and fast over the festive period but with Liverpool being involved elsewhere and our home fixture postponed we have a rest-bite which can only be advantageous.
By the time we take part in that third round FA Cup game the first half of the season will already be over.
History dictates that in our last three seasons at the London Stadium we have had a return of 25 points in 2016; 18 points in 2017, and 27 last season. I predict a similar points total to last season, after all we have seemingly bought wisely.
I guess it all hinges of a few factors. Firstly will our new signings gel quickly? Will the reduction in squad size come back to bite if injuries hit?
Finally will we have that element of luck that all successful teams need? Maybe VAR will provide that. A points total similar to last season may, you never know, result in the cup games being of more importance.
That first half of the season gives a varied fixture list where no month really stands out as one of horrors, but what of the remaining seasons in 2020?
January looks like a month where we could get maximum points and we are going to need them when February arrives.
Man City and Liverpool away with a possible cup game in between which no doubt knowing our luck will probably be away to someone like Arsenal does not bode well.
I feel that it’s going to be damage limitation for February and March where we will see fixtures against last year’s top two but also fixtures against Arsenal and Spurs plus that rearranged fixture with Liverpool. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
But then comes the spring and early summer fixtures which all look winnable. Chelsea at home and United away are the only two that should hold fear.
By that last fixture at home against Villa we could be in a good place. So will that elusive seventh position be in our grasp come that fixture?
Well let’s remember that seventh place in the league was repeatedly in our grasp last year but we messed up time and time again. It would have taken just a win away to Cardiff and to hold on to those three points at Palace and seventh would have been ours.