Seven things we learned on Fixture Release Day

By Alex Keble 18 Jun 2024
Cole Palmer scores a late penalty v Man City

Alex Keble analyses 2024/25 Premier League fixtures and sees where clubs' fates may be determined

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The 2024/25 Premier League fixtures are out and one thing is immediately apparent - it’s going to be another brilliant opening weekend.

Erik ten Hag’s reboot of Manchester United begins on Friday evening against Fulham, and then at lunchtime on Saturday Ipswich Town are welcomed back in the summer sun by Arne Slot’s Liverpool.

Then, after West Ham United host Aston Villa in the evening kick-off and Brentford play Crystal Palace the following day, Manchester City visit Chelsea in a blockbuster headliner.

Finally, promoted Leicester City host Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night to complete a very strong first weekend of the season.

Here are seven things Alex Keble looks out for following the 2024/25 fixture release.

Arsenal’s traditional wobble might come in January – or at the start

Villa Park, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and the Etihad Stadium - all before September is out. Arsenal have got really unlucky.

Playing the two biggest matches of the season - the north London derby and a title contest - in the space of seven days in September is a huge test for Mikel Arteta. Worse than that, first they have a UEFA Champions League fixture in-between, and then they have to do it all over again in January!

In each of the last two seasons Arsenal went through a rough patch in winter that ultimately cost them the Premier League title.

In 2022/23 it was a three-match winless run through February, while last season Arsenal won only one in five across December. They need to avoid a similar sequence this season if they are to finally displace Man City at the top.

That means getting through a horrible run when they face Villa, Spurs, and Man City in the space of four rounds (again) in January.

It is the most likely moment for things to turn sour. But come through it unscathed, and the self-belief could drive Arsenal to their first Premier League crown in 21 years.

Man City’s motivation to be tested

Are there any mountains left to climb for Pep Guardiola and his team? He was cryptic about his future following Man City’s unprecedented fourth title in a row, even wondering aloud where motivation might be found for 2024/25.

We should know pretty quickly whether City are up for the fight. Their first six games of the season are unusually difficult.

As well as the obviously hard fixtures against Arsenal, Newcastle United, and a reset Chelsea, Man City are the first team to host promoted Ipswich and must visit West Ham under new management in Julen Lopetegui.

The game at Stamford Bridge on the opening Sunday is huge. Enzo Maresca is tactically very similar to Guardiola so there is a good chance the hosts will claim points, and if Arsenal can then take something from the Etihad in September, Man City would travel to St James' Park needing a win to avoid a disastrous start.

But even if they do start slowly, Man City tend to recover in the second half of the season, and a smooth 11-match run-in offers the chance for another of those incredible winning streaks.

The only challenging matches from March onwards are Manchester United at Old Trafford and Villa at home.


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Will thorny start derail Ten Hag reboot?

Ten Hag has been handed a reprieve but after Man Utd openly talked to other managers during a two-week review process we can assume he needs to hit the ground running in 2024/25.

With that in mind, Ten Hag has been handed a nightmare start - challenging matches, but not so challenging as to elicit sympathy if results are below par.


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Fulham is a simple enough opener, but then Man Utd travel to Brighton & Hove Albion for Fabian Hurzeler’s Amex Stadium debut before going on to host Liverpool.

Across the next four they have a trip to Selhurst Park - a banana skin with Oliver Glasner in charge - before Spurs and Villa going into the second international break.

Last season Man Utd lost four of their first seven fixtures and never really recovered. In 2024/25, five of Man Utd’s first seven Premier League matches are losable.

Ipswich run-in offers hope after tough start

Supporters will be happy to welcome Liverpool to Portman Road for their first Premier league match in 24 years, but having to following that up with a trip to Man City is less pleasing.

It puts a lot of pressure on a home outing against Fulham, which Ipswich might need to win to avoid entering the first international break at the foot of the table.

In much better news for Kieran McKenna, they will very much be in control of their own destiny during the run-in, which could end with as many as four consecutive "six-pointers".


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In fact, Ipswich’s fixtures generally seem to come in waves of easier then tougher matches, the worst being a sequence of 11 games between 21 December and 26 February that includes all of last season’s top eight.

Villa have a chance to rebuild momentum

Tiredness and injuries saw Aston Villa somewhat limp over the line into fourth last season, when a run of only three wins - and 13 points - from their final 11 Premier League matches was just enough.

Unai Emery needs to start strong, then, to reassert Villa’s place at the top table, and fortunately he has been handed a relatively tame start.

Their opening nine matches are all winnable, with only two of the top eight and both of those matches - against Arsenal and Man Utd – at Villa Park.


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If Villa are to qualify for the UEFA Champions League again, they might well end up doing it the same way, by racking up the points early on.

Should Man City reach the FA Cup semi-finals their match against Villa could potentially be moved to the last week, leaving Villa with Spurs (H), Man City (A), and Man Utd (A) as their final three.

Maresca's painful run from October

One manager keen to make a good first impression - especially after what happened to the last one at Chelsea - is Maresca, who, following the opener against Man City, has a decent run until things get tough in October.

That’s the time of year when the matches start coming thick and fast, both domestically and in Europe, so it’s hardly an ideal time for a Chelsea team with a brand new tactical approach to be facing so many big teams in a row.


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They play six of the top eight in a run of eight Premier League matches between 19 October and 7 December, taking them into the Christmas schedule potentially bruised from trips to Anfield, Old Trafford, and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Come through that unscathed and Maresca will be accepted. But if like Graham Potter and Mauricio Pochettino he gets off to a slow start, Chelsea will enter the festive period in a spot of bother.

Penultimate weekend set to be classic

The opening weekend looks great, but even better is a colossal penultimate weekend that looks certain to include some decisive fixtures at both end of the table.

Arsenal host Newcastle in what might define a title challenge for the former and a top-four battle for the latter.

Liverpool at Brighton is another game that could have something big riding on it for both, as is Spurs' trip to Villa, while there are as many as four possible six-pointers elsewhere.

West Ham v Nottingham Forest and Brentford v Fulham could involve one of the teams in a relegation battle. Leicester v Ipswich may also be a fight against the drop, and then there’s the headline fixture of Chelsea v Man Utd.


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