To help supplement all the early jaw-dropping excitement of this summer’s fast and furious transfer window (*snore*), The Premier League schedule for the 2007/2008 season has been released. Now you can tentatively schedule all your mid-week work meetings, book your family vacation and plan the next year of your life from August through May. Keep in mind that European competitions will shift some fixtures, so you may have to cancel that father-son fishing trip. Infact, it’s probably best if you don’t book any non-refundable tickets or make any solid time commitments of any kind.
While every game is of some importance to somebody, some are simply more attractive than others. At first glance, the following fixtures caught my eye:
Sat Aug 11, Bolton vs. Newcastle – First game of the season and Big Sam visits his old team with his new team. Awwwwwkwaaaaard.
Wed Aug 15, Newcastle vs. Arsenal – While it may be a bit early to have his team playing to their full goonish potential, I’m willing to bet Big Sam keeps his voodoo over Wegner’s sqaud.
Sat Aug 18, Man City vs. Man United – Whichever foreigner is managing City gets a proper welcome in his third league game.
Sun Sep 1, Man United vs. Sunderland – Roy Keane’s return to Old Trafford. It’s probably too early in the season for Fergie to throw him a bone, but this one has draw written all over it.
Sat Sep 15, Tottenham vs. Arsenal – I have a feeling that the fates of these two teams may be moving in opposite directions. Granted, a lot of that depends on which shirt Monsieur Henry is wearing come the new season.
Sat Sep 22, Man United vs. Chelsea – Because it’s never too early for mind games, although the second meeting later in the season may feature more fireworks. Sadly, there cannot be two losers on this day. I suppose a draw would suffice.
Sat Oct 27, Birmingham vs. Wigan – Because it’s never too early for a relegation battle. Irrespective of the result, there will definately be two losers this day – one team and the fans who watch it.
Sat Nov 24, Reading vs. Chelsea – Steve Sidwell faces his former team… from the bench. Why young talents continue to move to Chelsea and retard their growth by not playing, I’ll never know.
Sat Jan 12, Derby vs. Wigan – A preview of May 2009’s Coca-Cola Championship promotion playoff final.
Sat Apr 12, Man United vs. Arsenal – This will probably have an effect on the title run-in.
Sat Apr 26, Chelsea vs. Man United – This will obviously have an effect on the title run-in.
Sat May 3 Blackburn vs. Derby, Bolton vs. Sunderland, Fulham vs. Birmingham – The second to last league matches and these fixtures have ‘relegation battle’ written all over them.
Sun May 11, West Ham vs. Aston Villa – It’s the last match day of the season and I hope/expect that these two clubs will be battling for European qualification.
Sun May 11, Man City vs. Newcastle – Joey Barton returns to the scene of oh-so-many of his crimes. The smart money says he’ll be at the center of either (a) a booking, (b) violence or (c) a body part being exposed. Granted, this is almost a year from now, so it might be too much to assume that he won’t be dead or incarcerated.
As for Liverpool and the ‘good start to the season’ that has been harked as so crucial to mounting a title challenge, the first eight games look like this:
at Aston Villa, vs. West Ham, vs. Chelsea, at Sunderland, vs. Derby, at Portsmouth, vs. Birmingham, at Wigan
Those fixtures take us to October. With the exception of the Chelsea game, Liverpool will be rightful favorites in all of those matches. As everybody and their grandmother is going to say, they’ll have to hit the ground running (and scoring) if this team is truly going to match wits with the likes of United and Chelsea for the Premiership crown.
After the early season showdown with Jose’s men, a look at some of the other notable games:
Sat Oct 6, Aston Villa vs. West Ham – Which of these teams will Craig Bellamy be playing for?
Sat Oct 20, at Everton – Hopefully, this will be previewed as “struggling Everton look to get back on track against Premiership leaders, Liverpool, in this 206th edition of the Merseyside derby.”
Sat Oct 27, vs. Arsenal – The very next Premiership game after the derby. Dudek, however, will not be in goal.
Sat Nov 24, at Newcastle – Can Big Sam duplicate the hardships of Reebok Stadium at the Tyneside?
Sat Dec 15, at Man United – The one game of the year I still wish Danny Murphy was with the club.
Sat Feb 2, vs. Sunderland – Roy Keane returns to do battle at Anfield once again. But, where will the Black Cats be in the table?
Sat Feb 9, at Chelsea – A trip to Stamford Bridge right after the transfer window has closed. How many new players will be brought in between these two clubs come January?
Sat Mar 1, at Bolton – Never a fun trip, but maybe the results will turn positive now that Big Sam is gone?
Sat Mar 22, at Man United
Sat Mar 29, vs. Everton
Sat Apr 5, at Arsenal – These three consecutive league matches make up a Murderer’s Row of sorts. One can only assume that the away days to United and the Gunners will have major title race implications.
Sat May 3, vs. Man City – The home finale, but who will be managing the Citizens? Do you even care?
Sun May 11, at Tottenham – The final league game of the season. How wonderful would it be if the title is still up for grabs come this trip to London? Then again, I’d be more than alright if Liverpool had already put the wraps on #19 and are preparing for another Final. (I can’t believe I’m being so optimistic)
Liverpool’s schedule in its entirety:
Sat Aug 11 Aston Villa (away)
Wed Aug 15 West Ham United (home)
Sat Aug 18 Chelsea (home)
Sat Aug 25 Sunderland (away)
Sat Sep 1 Derby County (home)
Sat Sep 15 Portsmouth (away)
Sat Sep 22 Birmingham City (home)
Sat Sep 29 Wigan Athletic (away)
Sat Oct 6 Tottenham Hotspur (home)
Sat Oct 20 Everton (away)
Sat Oct 27 Arsenal (home)
Sat Nov 3 Blackburn Rovers (away)
Sat Nov 10 Fulham (home)
Sat Nov 24 Newcastle United (away)
Sat Dec 1 Bolton Wanderers (home)
Sat Dec 8 Reading (away)
Sat Dec 15 Manchester United (home)
Sat Dec 22 Portsmouth (home)
Wed Dec 26 Derby County (away)
Sat Dec 29 Manchester City (away)
Tue Jan 1 Wigan Athletic (home)
Sat Jan 12 Middlesbrough (away)
Sat Jan 19 Aston Villa (home)
Tue Jan 29 West Ham United (away)
Sat Feb 2 Sunderland (home)
Sat Feb 9 Chelsea (away)
Sat Feb 23 Middlesbrough (home)
Sat Mar 1 Bolton Wanderers (away)
Sat Mar 8 Newcastle United (home)
Sat Mar 15 Reading (home)
Sat Mar 22 Manchester United (away)
Sat Mar 29 Everton (home)
Sat Apr 5 Arsenal (away)
Apr 12 Blackburn Rovers (home)
Sat Apr 19 Fulham (away)
Sat Apr 26 Birmingham City (away)
Sat May 3 Manchester City (home)
Sun May 11 Tottenham Hotspur (away)