The Premier League season came to a head less than a month ago and already teams are looking to the upcoming season after the fixture list was announced on Wednesday. Clubs up and down the country will be planning for the start to the season in the hope of hitting the ground running.
The fixture list was bad news for Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool who face the toughest start to the season. The Reds kick off their campaign at Stoke City, who overcame Liverpool 6-1 on the final day of last term. Liverpool may welcome Bournemouth, West Ham and Norwich to Anfield in the opening weeks of the coming season, but face daunting trips to Arsenal and rivals Manchester United, whose home ratings, 7.49 and 7.34 (from whoscored.com), respectively, were two of the three best in the Premier League last season.
Liverpool won only 2 of their opening 6 league games last season, hindering their chances of securing a top-4 finish, and Rodgers knows he needs his side to get off to a stronger start when the campaign gets underway in August. A repeat of the humiliating loss at the Britannia would not sit well with the fans or the board, and Rodgers must settle on a system to bring the best out of his players if his side are to come away from Stoke with maximum points on the opening day.
Conversely, it’s newly-promoted Bournemouth and Swansea (6.97) who have the easiest starts to next season, according to WhoScored’s rating system. The Cherries may face Liverpool at Anfield on the second day of the season, but have a relatively comfortable start to their debut campaign in England’s top tier. Home meetings with Aston Villa, Leicester City and Sunderland – three teams whose average ratings away from home (6.78, 6.89 and 6.93, respectively) were all in the bottom half of the rankings – presents them with the ideal opportunity to take all the spoils in their first three games of the campaign at Dean Court.
Swansea, meanwhile, may start their season away at defending champions Chelsea, but their fixtures ease up after the trip to Stamford Bridge. Home meetings with, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Everton will be seen as winnable, with Garry Monk hopeful of exploiting home advantage in order to improve 8th-placed finish from last season.