So the 2012-13 fixtures have been released, and surprise, surprise, a newly promoted side have been hit with a visit to one of the big boys – in this case the current biggest.
Southampton will travel to Premier champions Manchester City and you can’t help feeling this is all so manufactured. Why? Because it makes headlines and gives people something to talk about. This year, of course, the Euros (or even the currency euro) are outshining any Premier news. But let’s face it, fixtures are fixtures, they all have to be played, it’s just the order they come that makes the difference.
So there is no real news in a fixture list, unless you conjure up some human interest or “wow factor”. And while the visit of the Saints to the Etihad will barely raise an eyebrow in Manchester, for Southampton, it will be a reminder that they are back in the big time. It is “wow” time. Last season, Swansea played City on the opening day, and the year before it was Chelsea for West Bromwich Albion. It seems to happen every year.
The title will inevitably be decided among the two Manchester clubs, the London trio of Arsenal, Chelsea and – perhaps – Tottenham, and we’ll see if Newcastle can hang onto the tails of that quintet. They may find it hard going. That may leave room for one of the Merseyside clubs to fill their place.
Top six meetings
August 18 – Newcastle v Tottenham
August 25 – Chelsea v Newcastle
September 22 – Manchester City v Arsenal
September 29 – Manchester United v Tottenham
September 29 – Arsenal v Chelsea
October 6 – Newcastle v Manchester United
October 20 – Tottenham v Chelsea
October 27 – Chelsea v Manchester United
November 3 – Manchester United v Arsenal
November 10 – Manchester City v Tottenham
November 17 – Arsenal v Tottenham
November 24 – Chelsea v Manchester City
December 8 – Manchester City v Manchester United
December 15 – Newcastle v Manchester City
December 26 – Manchester United v Newcastle
December 29 – Arsenal v Newcastle
January 12 – Arsenal v Manchester City
January 19 – Tottenham v Manchester United
January 19 – Chelsea v Arsenal
February 2 – Newcastle v Chelsea
February 9 – Tottenham v Newcastle
February 23 – Manchester City v Chelsea
March 2 – Tottenham v Arsenal
April 6 – Manchester United v Manchester City
April 13 – Chelsea v Tottenham
April 20 – Tottenham v Manchester City
April 27 – Arsenal v Manchester United
May 4 – Manchester United v Chelsea
May 19 – Newcastle v Arsenal
Meetings between the top six can effectively decide the title. Last season, Manchester City had the best record in top six games, winning 22 points from a possible 30. Manchester United were second with 20 and Arsenal next on 13.