The fixtures are out for the new season, and as Champions, all the eyes are sure to be on Chelsea in the opening few weeks of the season.
It is, of course, impossible to predict the outcome of the campaign by looking at these games now, but we aren’t too shy about trying.
Just like last season, the start is going to be extremely important. Our first few games are tough, make no mistake about it, and there are several banana skins that we could trip over. We start the season at home to Swansea City, and Louis Van Gaal can tell us how good Garry Monk’s men are at crashing an opening day party. The second game is a blockbuster, as we travel to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City, last season’s runners-up and arguably our toughest challengers next year too.
In fact, 3 of our first 5 games are away from home. Along with the City game, we travel to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion and Goodison Park to take on Everton. None of these games is going to be easy and it will be a miracle if we come out with a perfect record after such a tough run of games.
Another thing that springs to mind looking at the fixtures is that the games against the top sides are evenly spread out. We do not face our potential rivals for the title in consecutive weeks at any point in the campaign. The following are the dates for the fixtures against the top 6 from last season:
Man City vs. Chelsea – 15th August
Chelsea vs. Arsenal – 19th September
Chelsea vs. Liverpool – 31st October
Spurs vs. Chelsea – 28th November
Man Utd vs. Chelsea – 28th December
Arsenal vs. Chelsea – 23rd January
Chelsea vs. Man Utd – 6th February
Liverpool vs. Chelsea – 12th March
Chelsea vs. Man City – 16th April
Chelsea vs. Spurs – 30th April
This also means that we’ve hardly got an elongated period to rest on our laurels, as a big game will always be around the corner every month. This is certainly a good thing, as it will avoid any complacency within the side. We don’t face any of the newly-promoted sides until late November when Norwich City come to Stamford Bridge.
Just like last year, the Christmas period will be a real tester. After a home game against Watford on Boxing Day, we travel to Old Trafford at the weekend before a trip to Selhurst Park to play Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day.
The last 12 games include 7 away from home, with trips to Southampton, Norwich City, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Swansea, Bournemouth and Sunderland. It is needless to say that there will immense pressure on us in the final push for the title.
All in all, we face a big challenge to retain our Premier League crown. Coming through the first 5 or 6 unscathed is imperative, as is ending the season well. Jose Mourinho, of course, has an incredible record against his fellow contenders, and it is difficult to think of too many weaknesses from last season. But a big reason for that was that we got off to the perfect start and never really let up. If we find ourselves chasing another club at the top, it will be interesting to see how we respond.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni
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