Which Premier League giant has the ‘hardest’ start to next season? Ranking the Big Six’s opening matches
Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal have all learned their fixture list ahead of 2022/23 Premier League season - but who has the trickiest first five matches?
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The Premier League fixture list release day is one of only a few highly anticipated dates across the summer break for football fans.
It shows you exactly how your football club’s season could pan out, with the hope of an easy start and end to the campaign, as well as looking eagerly for the ‘big’ fixtures.
The upcoming fixtures were released at 9am this morning and fans have already been having their say on their team’s campaign.
We take a look at each of the Big Six’s opening matches and rank them from ‘easiest’ to ‘hardest’...
Crystal Palace (A), Leicester (H), Bournemouth (A), Fulham (H), Aston Villa (H)
Arsenal arguably have the easiest run-in on paper and are one of only two teams that won’t face another Big Six club in their opening five matches.
While we all know the Gunners are very capable of a slip up, if they are at the best they could easily beat each of these teams.
Crystal Palace are a certain banana skin after a successful first campaign under Patrick Vieira, but Arsenal will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the 3-0 thrashing on the opening day of the season.
Mikel Arteta’s side did the double over Leicester City last season and would be disappointed if they were to lose to the Foxes on home turf, while any Big Six team should be beating a newly promoted side - though Brentford would have something to say about that.
Aston Villa is a difficult one to predict, with their positive transfer window so far potentially either resulting in a blessing or a nightmare.
West Ham (A), Bournemouth (H), Newcastle (A), Crystal Palace (H), Nottingham Forest (H)
Admittedly, Manchester City could probably have anyone in their opening five fixtures and they could breeze past them all.
Though hypothetically, if any match was going to be of concern for Pep Guardiola’s side it would be their two away trips to West Ham and Newcastle.
The Hammers claimed a point against City at the end of last season, while the latter are likely to be a much improved side once they complete the transfers they want.
The Magpies have also only lost one league match at St. James’ Park since December.
Fulham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Man Utd (A), Bournemouth (H), Newcastle (H)
Liverpool’s opening month doesn’t look too difficult, with Manchester United likely to be their only real obstacle.
While the Reds put nine past their rivals last season, it’s very unlikely that they will roll over so easily only a matter of weeks into Erik ten Hag’s reign.
The Dutchman will definitely know that a win over the Reds would get him off to a great start at Old Trafford.
Jurgen Klopp’s side also face Crystal Palace and Newcastle, however the home advantage usually guarantees them the three points.
Brighton (H), Brentford (A), Liverpool (H), Southampton (A), Leicester (H)
Manchester United’s run is definitely easier ‘on paper’ than in real life, as we know they can make it very difficult for themselves when facing ‘inferior’ opposition.
Their clash with the Reds will be their trickiest match and there will be a lot of pressure on the players to avoid a repeat of last season.
While I would expect the Red Devils to pick up wins against Brighton and Southampton, Brentford ended the 2021/22 season very strongly, while United only managed a single point against Leicester across their two meetings last time out.
Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Wolves (H), Forest (A), West Ham (A)
Bar Southampton, I expect Tottenham’s opponents in their opening fixtures to each put up a tough test for the North London club.
A trip to Stamford Bridge is undoubtedly their hardest match, while Wolves and West Ham have previously shown how capable they are against the bigger teams.
While Nottingham Forest have only just been promoted, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them kill a few giants throughout their first campaign back in the top tier.
It was hard to decide between Chelsea and Tottenham for the hardest run, but there are two reasons why I have gone for the Blues.
Despite both being in a relegation dog fight last season, trips to Goodison Park and Elland Road are likely to be very hard for Chelsea.
I am expecting both Everton and Leeds United to look like much better sides than those who looked set for a spell in the Championship only a few months ago.
The second reason is the number of players that could potentially be gone by the time the season begins, with key defenive duo Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen already finding new clubs.
While the Blues will certainly bring in replacements, I think it will take them a while to get going this season and they could struggle in their opening matches.