Premier League 17-18: Analysing the opening run in for the Top 6

14th June 2017: The fixtures for the 2017-18 Premier League season have been released. Some might say it’s just a fixture list and the strength of the teams plying their trade in the league matters the most. However, it’s the fixture run-in that proves to be the line between one team taking the footballing world by storm by being amidst silverware and another landing in oblivion without any silverware to show for the otherwise excellent style of play displayed over the entire course of the season. In this piece, we’ll be analysing the fixture run-in for last year’s top 6…

1. Chelsea

What do you think to our first three fixtures, Blues fans?🤔 pic.twitter.com/XwG0eDUsqT

— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) June 14, 2017

Where else can we start apart from the Blues from London? The breakaway Champions last season, they took the second half of the 16-17 Premier League season by storm, winning games at a canter and leaving the other title rivals for dead. Did a lack of European football play a part? Yes, it definitely did. And the presence of Champions League football this season will be a major factor in Chelsea’s title defence this season.

The Champions, in their second season under their Italian virtuoso Antonio Conte  start with a pretty straightforward fixture at home against a Burnley side who struggled on their travels last season. The Clarets managed just 7 points out of an available total of 57 points away from home. Chelsea, meanwhile had the second best home record last season, gathering 51 points out of a possible 57 at Stamford Bridge. The opening day does spring some surprises, however there’s none that can be foreseen in this case.

The second game in the season of title defence is an absolute blockbuster, the typical box office fixture in every football fan’s calendar! Yes, it’s the London Derby between the reigning champions Chelsea and last year’s runners up Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs will be playing their home fixtures at the Wembley stadium next season with the iconic White Hart Lane in the midst of a massive revamp. Spurs’ poor record at the Wembley in the past won’t make them feel comfortable going into this fixture and it could prove to be a favourable outing for Chelsea.

The Champions’ opening month ends with a home fixture against an Everton side who could face a familiar beast in Romelu Lukaku should his rumoured move to Chelsea go through this summer.

Expected yield: P3 W2 D1 L0   7 pts

2. Tottenham Hotspur 

credit tutu

Runners up last season, unbeaten at home and probably the best overall team in the Premier League in terms of individual ability, the Spurs are certainly flying under their enigmatic Argentine maestro Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs, should they be able to retain their star performers from last season are on track to have yet another impressive season in PL 17-18. However, with concerns over the futures of key performers like Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, reinforcements may prove to be key this upcoming season.

Spurs start off their season with a repeat of the final day fixture from PL 15-16 away at Newcastle. Spurs were mauled 5-1 by Newcastle that day, but I’m sure both sides know lightning doesn’t strike twice in this case, does it? However, Newcastle promoted as the Championship winners under Rafael Benitez could prove to be a tough nut to crack for Spurs and this opening day fixture promises to be a pretty cagey affair.

Second game of the season, as highlighted previously, it’s the London Derby at the Wembley Stadium against the Champions Chelsea, and no doubt it’s yet another tough fixture for Spurs to handle in the opening run-in.

The third game of the season for Spurs is against Burnley. It is expected to be rescheduled as it clashes with the Rugby Challenge Cup final to be played at the Wembley Stadium. However, it should prove to be a pretty straightforward game for Spurs, given Burnley’s poor away form last season.

Expected yield: P 3 W1 D2 L0    5 pts.

3. Manchester City

A disappointing season for City in 2016-17. It was the first season when Pep Guardiola finished trophy-less. However, the quality in the City side is second to none. Deadly in the final third, solid in midfield albeit very poor at the back, that’s precisely how the City side can be described. They’ve been the busiest Premier League side in the transfer window so far, bringing in the Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva from AS Monaco and Goalkeeper Ederson from SL Benfica for a world record goalkeeper fee.

 

The Citizens begin their Premier League conquest away to newly promoted side Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium in what should prove to be a regular PL fixture for the Sky Blues from Manchester.

City then face Everton at the Etihad Stadium in what should also prove to be a winnable affair given Everton’s lacklustre form away from home last season. Moreover, Everton could be without star striker Romelu Lukaku next season if his rumoured move to Chelsea goes through.

The opening month of City’s season ends with an away fixture to AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium. Bournemouth, generally have a tendency to establish themselves as giant killers, however City could prove to be a tad too powerful for them.

Expected yield: P3 W3 D0 L0  9 pts

4. Liverpool

The Reds from Merseyside finished 4th last season and now face the additional task of playing a qualifier to assure a CL berth next season. Jurgen Klopp’s “Heavy metal” football does look pretty impressive not only when it gels, however disappointing results have chances aplenty of surfacing, as witnessed last season.

Liverpool start off with an away fixture at Vicarage Road against a Watford side who’ve just appointed an enigmatic manager in Marco Silva. The Portuguese manager who has a penchant for prioritising home fixtures could set up his side to wreck Klopp’s Heavy Metal football plans, however Liverpool still possess enough oomph to eke out a narrow win.

Next up, one of Liverpool’s BIGGEST games in recent seasons. No, it’s not the big 5 or Everton…. it’s Crystal Palace at Anfield. The Eagles, since tearing apart Liverpool’s title aspirations to shreds in that thrilling 3-3 draw at Selhurst Park, have proven to be the Reds’ Achilles in any fixture list. Last season, inspired by a former Liverpool player in Christian Benteke, Crystal Palace rallied to a 2-1 win at Anfield. Yet again, this could prove to be a tough fixture for Jurgen Klopp’s men given the threat possessed by the Crystal Palace front-line of Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke.

The Reds’ opening month ends with a classic PL fixture vs Arsenal at Anfield. Arsenal really do put on a show in the opening months of the season leaving both sets of fans dumbfounded with some exquisite style of play. It really is an intriguing fixture with both Klopp and Wenger going for the kill, yet the most likely outcome seems to be a high scoring stalemate.

Expected yield: P3 W1 D1 L1  4 pts

5. Arsenal 

credit Tim Snell

A slightly different position for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger and a deviation from a trademark 4th place. Arsenal despite starting off pretty well last season, faded away gradually towards December. It’s just what they do every season. Nevertheless, they ended up topping Chelsea to win the FA Cup and as a result, Wenger is set to be at the helm of the Gunners after signing yet another contract extension. Transfers haven’t gathered full pace quite yet with Sead Kolasinac being the only player through the entry door at the Emirates Stadium this summer.

 

Arsenal begin their season at home against Leicester City in what proves to be an interesting opening day fixture from the perspective of both sides. Leicester, who finished last season on a high under Craig Shakespeare could employ their trademark tactics and try and hit Arsenal on the break. However, all signs still suggest towards an Arsenal win on the opening day at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners then travel to the Bet 365 Stadium to face Stoke City. Again, Stoke do possess some potent threats in the form of Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic, however the Gunners have enough arsenal to get the job done on a tough windy day at Stoke.

Arsenal end opening month with an away fixture vs Liverpool at Anfield. Both teams have enough artillery to hurt each other and that’s exactly the reason this game has a high scoring draw written all over it.

Expected yield: P3 W2 D1 L0  7 pts

6. Manchester United

credit O.Taillon

6th place definitely doesn’t make a pretty reading for the most decorated club in England. But, Jose Mourinho, the Special One still managed to silence his critics by winning 3 major trophies in his first season in charge; The Community Shield, The EFL Cup and most importantly The UEFA Europa League. The Europa League win also ensured direct Champions League qualification without the need to play a qualifying round. In terms of summer transfers, there’s been a lot of backstage activity with up to 5 transfer deals in the pipeline. Victor Lindelof , the Swedish centre-back from SL Benfica has been confirmed as United’s first major signing this summer. Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid is another big name who is expected to follow suit sooner rather than later. With some potent summer reinforcements and the mastermind Jose Mourinho at the helm, United do look like a serious threat this upcoming season.

 

The Red Devils, who enjoy the best overall win record on the opening day of the Premier League kick off their season with a pretty straightforward fixture against West Ham United at The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. With potential summer reinforcements and the quality possessed by the current crop of players, this should be yet another 3 points for United on the opening day.

The next game for United is away at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea. This has proven to be the bogey fixture for United in the recent years, however United have not lost to Swansea since Mourinho took over. Again, United are expected to bag the win in this game albeit it could be a tight game.

United round off the opening month with a home game vs Leicester City. United thrashed Leicester 4-1 at home last season in what was one of the Red Devils’ most complete performances of the season. Although a repeat performance can’t be guaranteed, United are expected to get through this game with all 3 points.

Expected yield: P3 W3 D0 L0  9 pts

All in all, the Premier League 2017-18 promises to be yet another season of thrills and spills with a minimum of 6 teams challenging for the much coveted Premier League title. In just under two months, yet another conquest of fun, passion, anxiety and emotions  is set to grip us all..till then the Premier League keeps us waiting in what seems endless sojourn in search of the game we all love FOOTBALL!

The Premier League beckons….!

Can we read too much into fixture lists? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

featured image by cfcunofficial

  • Aishwarya Vasudevan

    😀