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Premier League fixtures: Promoted clubs dealt tough hand in August

| 23.06.2022

Premier League fixtures: Comparing opening and closing schedules

The Premier League recently released its fixture schedule for the 2022-23 season in what is set to be a gruelling campaign.

Players’ summer holidays have been shortened by recent international fixtures and the need to accommodate a winter World Cup, so the ordering of their domestic schedule is even more important than ever.

While all teams will play each other twice at some point during the season, the timing of these encounters can make a lot of difference.

A tricky start could send an otherwise capable team into a tailspin while an easy run of opening fixtures can give a mediocre side the boost they need to steer clear of relegation.

Here we’ve used our latest Premier League outright odds to rank each team by their most likely finishing position and compared their opening and closing schedules.

Nightmare start for Newcastle

To keep things manageable, let’s consider each half of the table individually beginning with the top.

Newcastle’s new-found riches have made them a popular outside bet for the title at 50/1 or (perhaps more realistically) a top-six place this season (5/2). For anyone still on the fence about their prospects, Eddie Howe’s side will be tested by both of the title favourites in their first five games.

Our odds suggest that Manchester City (8/13) will edge their customary two-way battle with Liverpool (9/4) at the Premier League summit once again. Both have been handed relatively gentle starts which include two meetings with newly-promoted sides early on, allowing them to rotate their squads with fewer risks.

Chelsea and Tottenham are the favourites to fill out the top four as things stand, with the two teams meeting in an ‘Antonio Conte derby’ on the second weekend of the season. Arsenal could be best placed to take advantage of dropped points here, as three of the Gunners’ first four opponents are expected to finish in 14th place or lower.

Late misery in the Midlands?

Leicester and Aston Villa will both be hoping to make progress this season but any challenge for European football could falter at the final hurdle. All of the Foxes’ last three matches are against clubs expected to finish above them, while three of Villa’s final five opponents are members of the traditional ‘big six’.

While Arsenal side could start the season well, they could also find themselves falling away at the business end of the campaign after back-to-back encounters with Manchester City and Chelsea at the end of April. Despite having their own trip to the Etihad to contend with, the Blues could finish the season strongly as they meet three of the likely bottom six during their run-in.

Testing opening month for Cherries

Turning attention to the lower end of the table, Scott Parker and Bournemouth have made a swift return to the Premier League, but don’t be surprised if September sees them looking set for an equally brisk stay in the top flight. The Cherries’ first four opponents are all expected to finish the season in the top half and include both of the title favourites, so they could end August with no points to show for their efforts.

Fellow promoted side Nottingham Forest could also struggle in the first month, with four of their opening five matches pitting them against likely top-half opposition. The same is true for Crystal Palace and Southampton, with the latter having ended their 2021-22 campaign in poor form and in danger of seeing that continue.

Things look brighter for the likes of Brentford, who survived their debut season in the top flight and can start this one on the right foot with four of their first six games against clubs likely to finish in the bottom half.

Sting in the tail for Bees

While Thomas Frank’s side could start well, they would be advised to target the oft-quoted 40 points needed to avoid relegation well before the curtain comes down. In their last six games of the forthcoming campaign they will meet five teams whose odds place them in the top half of the table, so a late surge from the Bees looks unlikely.

While Crystal Palace have been handed another tough start, the fixture compiler has balanced that out with a gentle finish. If the Eagles are a few points shy of safety in early May, then all is not lost as their last three games are against the three newly-promoted teams.

Who tends to fare well on opening day?

We have also compared the combined records of each Premier League team over their last 10 opening fixtures to see which sides usually hit the ground running.

While Manchester City were surprisingly beaten by Tottenham in their first match of 2021-22, Pep Guardiola’s side usually fly out of the traps. Prior to that defeat they had won 10 opening fixtures in a row, so are likely to pick up where they left off in May. Rivals Liverpool have won eight of their last nine opening games, drawing the other, so this year’s title race could be close from the off.

The identity of the only team unbeaten on the opening day in the last decade is somewhat of a surprise. Everton haven’t tasted defeat in their first match since 2012, although six of their subsequent 10 seasons have begun with a draw. The visit of manager Frank Lampard’s former side Chelsea this time around will make this run tough to extend, although the Toffees have successfully resisted Manchester United and Tottenham (twice) in their unbeaten sequence.

In a further blow to their chances of putting their miserable end to last season behind them, Southampton appear to be the worst starters of all. Saints have n0t won the opening match of a league campaign since 2013 and have lost three on the spin going into this season.

Title outsiders Newcastle have also tended to fare poorly, losing five of their last six and winning just two out of 14 since 2008. This term sees Eddie Howe’s side begin with a home fixture against newly-promoted Nottingham Forest however, so they won’t get many better opportunities to improve their opening-day record.

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Author

Warren Barner