Still on a high following our European victory, I’m sure many of us were looking to the release of the Premier League fixture list. And at 9am on June 15, we had the opportunity to pour over each month’s games and try to figure out where we might be able to get a run together, and where we may struggle to pick up points.
We know that at least six games before Christmas will be moved either to a Sunday or Monday. With that in mind don’t make plans to book trains or hotels to Liverpool, and if you were planning to go to the NFL game at Tottenham in October you just may have a clash on your hands.
Add in home games against Newcastle, Everton, Forest, Palace and Wolves, which will all be moved, then we need to be prepared to edit our phone calendars. And that’s all before Christmas. If we are successful, there could be another six to eight games to be moved in the New Year, and that’s before even thinking about the domestic cup competitions.
But what can we glean from our fixtures? Well, it’s a pretty tough start. Those first five fixtures are not going to be easy. Two trips to the south coast, a trip to newly-promoted Luton and home games against Liverpool and Chelsea.
It’s fair to say we need to get out of the blocks running. If not, the visit of Sheffield United in game six could start looking like a must win. It’s also pretty certain that away tickets will be hard to come by for those first away games.
If you want a day out on the south coast, or want to look into people’s back gardens at Kenilworth Road then I hope you’ve all got loads of priority points. If we start on a roll though then the next few games should, on paper, be easier, if any game is easier in this league.
The festive period shows the super computer has not been friendly to us. A European fixture means we could play Wolves at home on December 17, followed by Man United six days later and then Arsenal away on Boxing Day.
Knowing our luck the United game will move to Christmas Eve, Arsenal to an evening game on the 27th and Brighton at home on New Years Eve, you’ve read it here first! We do need to be in a position of safety before those last few games of the season too as those look pretty tough.
There could also be two European games in May. Add into that mix Liverpool at home on April 27, Chelsea away on May 4 – look out for that one to be moved to May Day especially if we are still in Europe – Luton at home, which again could be moved due to Europe, and then us performing the guard of honour to Manchester City on the last game of the season, that’s a tough run in.
I can’t help but feel that last season was an anomaly, not to the extent to the season when Leicester won the league, but it was a season of oddities which will not occur this coming season. Last year saw below par performances by Liverpool and Chelsea and the minnows from White Hart Lane.
I can’t see that happening again next season nor can I see the likes of Brighton and Fulham making similar heroics as last season. This season will be a tough one. We all know if you get off to a good start, it holds you in good stead.
September and October are huge months for us. It’s also when we restart our European quest for glory and our Carabao cup campaign. It’s those first few months that are going to be vitally important. If we fail to get off to that good start, including the games against the relegation favourites, who at the moment are Sheffield United, Luton and Bournemouth, will face another tough campaign.
But let’s not forget if the bookies have got it right, we play each of those relegation favourites in our first six league games, so our destiny is in our hands. The bookies have us around 20-1 for relegation and they rarely get it wrong. So please West Ham start off on the front foot, strengthen the squad early and let’s see the terraces jumping as we win yet another cup and get a top half league finish.