The fixture list for the 2012/13 season was released today at 9am. We all naturally study the list to see when we play our closest competitors, and with that in mind I have noted these fixtures below:
22nd Sept – Liverpool (Away)
27th Oct – Chelsea (Away)
3rd Nov – Arsenal (Home)
8th Dec – Man City (Away)
12th Jan – Liverpool (Home)
6th April – Man City (Home)
27th April – Arsenal (Away)
4th May – Chelsea (Home)
As you can see, we will be playing the away fixtures against our rivals during the early part of the season, with a trip to the Emirates being the only exception. Initially, I’m pleased to see the away fixtures being played first as it means the corresponding matches are at OT during the so-called “business end” of the season.
However, when you begin to consider how the Champions League fixtures fit in, the fixture list suddenly becomes undesirable in every sense. Five of the six group stage matches will be followed by a domestic away fixture, which is not ideal. The subsequent away fixtures after our Champions League games are as follows: Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Man City.
This will certainly be in the thoughts of the management already and it will be an intriguing time for our club in terms of how we handle the first half of the season. The only consolation yet to be decided is the opposition and perhaps more importantly how far we’ll have to travel in Europe. A likely outcome is that we’ll be managing consecutive away matches, travelling both in Europe and then away for a domestic match a few days later. It’s certainly going to be a mouth-watering time for all involved, that’s for sure!
The FA Cup will also add to the seemingly never-ending excitement we have in store, sandwiching itself between games against Liverpool, Tottenham and Champions League ties. If we go far in the competition, we can expect the semi-final to be played before we travel to Stoke, with the final at Wembley following a game against Chelsea at Old Trafford.
As a last note on the fixtures, remember that the ‘Carling Cup’ has a new name next season – you will now see references to a ‘Capital One Cup’, it’s the same principle and format but with an awful new title.
Overall, this has the potential to be a thrilling roller-coaster ride from start to finish. With that said, I think it’s probably worthwhile to start growing fingernails much sooner than you had originally planned…