The 2018-19 Premier League season is now underway with the fixtures for this season officially announced. 

Manchester City might be defending champions but no team has successfully defended their crown since Manchester United in 2007-08 before again defending their title the following season.

In fact since Sir Alex Ferguson retired after guiding United to the 2012-13 title, only blue teams have emerged victorious in the league. 

That sets up an enticing battle with Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool are aiming to take the fight to Pep Guardiola’s men.

Arsenal meanwhile commence life after Arsene Wenger as Unai Emery takes over at the Emirates Stadium. Very few will expect them to be in the title mix so expect interesting times for the Gunners. 

Midfield and relegation meanwhile could be tighter than ever with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Cardiff City and Fulham all joining the top flight. 

Therefore, who is set for a dream start only to suffer a nightmare run in and will Xmas throw up festive spirit for many teams?

 

Arsenal 

First Six Last Six
Manchester City (H) Everton (A)
Chelsea (A) Watford (A)
West Ham (H) Crystal Palace (H)
Cardiff (A) Leicester (A)
Newcastle (A) Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
Everton (H) Burnley (A)

Unai Emery definitely would of been hoping for a much simpler start to life in Premier League. 

Looking at their opening six games, Arsenal realistically must take at least five points otherwise they can forget any sort of title bid for another season personally. 

Xmas also looks like it could be tough with away trips to Brighton and Liverpool before a home London derby on New Years’ Day against Fulham. 

Ultimately despite a tasty looking run in, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal end up sneaking into the Europa League spots again or miss out. 

Overall, the defining period of their season definitely will be the opening round of games. Do well there and they could be contenders for top four but if not, just focus qualifying for Champions League via Europa League

Bournemouth

First Six Last Six
Cardiff (H) Burnley (H)
West Ham (A) Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
Everton (H) Fulham (H)
Chelsea (A) Southampton (A)
Leicester (H) Tottenham (H)
Burnley (A) Crystal Palace (A)

Bournemouth fans should be pleased with both their opening and last six games of this season. 

Just the one ‘Big Six’ team features in both sets of fixtures so I definitely can see the Cherries being fine and firmly in midfield if can gather plenty of points against their fellow midfield rivals and the newly promoted sides.

Overall, no real worries to come from this list, although the festive fixtures are bit of a Scrooge with trips to Tottenham and Manchester United in quick succession. 

If can come through that and a early December test of three ‘Big Six’ sides in four match days, then this would be a nice quiet season with hopefully a cup run to throw in. 

 

Brighton and Hove Albion

First Six Last Six
Watford (A) Tottenham (A)
Manchester United (H) Bournemouth (H)
Liverpool (A) Wolves (A)
Fulham (H) Newcastle (H)
Southampton (A) Arsenal (A)
Tottenham (H) Manchester City (H)

It’s difficult to decide whether these set of fixtures at opposite end of seasons are good or bad for Brighton, with three members of the ‘Big Six’ featuring in opening and final group of games.

Maintaining their impressive home record of last season will probably be key but they should look to try and get some nice wins against likes of Fulham, Southampton and Wolves. 

Realistically, Brighton will probably be safe but if are on ropes come May, they could be going down because be tough to see them beating Arsenal away and Manchester City at home. 

 

Burnley

First Six Last Six
Southampton (A) Bournemouth (H)
Watford (H) Cardiff (A)
Fulham (A) Chelsea (A)
Manchester United (H) Manchester City (H)
Wolves (A) Everton (A)
Bournemouth (H) Arsenal (H)

Last season’s surprise package might want to think about not reaching the latter stages of Europe because they will need their energy for the run in, if struggling in league by then. 

The start is decent and realistically, they need to take as many points as they can between now and mid April. 

If they don’t then I do fear for them with a nightmare run in for their last four games. Luckily two of those games are at home so might be able to get at least a draw from one of those games. 

The festive period isn’t too bad although Tottenham and Arsenal just beforehand might be significant in terms of where the Clarets are sitting come Xmas morning. 

In summary, Burnley can’t afford to slip up and undo last season’s progress otherwise they might be in trouble come end of season. 

 

Cardiff City 

First Six Last Six
Bournemouth (A) Manchester City (A)
Newcastle (H) Burnley (A)
Huddersfield (A) Liverpool (H)
Arsenal (H) Fulham (A)
Chelsea (A) Crystal Palace (H)
Manchester City (H) Manchester United (A)

Cardiff will be happy with these sets of fixtures and should easily get at least a point from their first three games. 

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City in September might seem tough but given Arsenal’s nightmare start, they might come here desperate for a win which could well play into the Bluebirds hands if play it right. 

The run in is quite nicely staggered but the Fulham and Crystal Palace games could very well be key to their survival hopes, given that Burnley at Turf Moor will be tough alongside the big name matches. 

Overall, a decent set of games but the mid-season will be important in determining how critical their run in is going to be. 

 

Chelsea 

First Six Last Six
Huddersfield (A) West Ham (H)
Arsenal (H) Liverpool (A)
Newcastle (A) Burnley (H)
Bournemouth (H) Manchester United (A)
Cardiff (H) Watford (H)
West Ham (A) Leicester (A)

Chelsea will be relatively happy with their first batch of fixtures, although Arsenal and Newcastle will be fairly tricky. 

Looking at those opening fixtures, anything less than seven points will be an instant disappointment for whoever is in charge come August with the Thursday-Sunday routine starting to get underway come mid September. 

Liverpool and Manchester United away will define their run in but Burnley, Watford and Leicester will be no easy rollovers if it comes down to needing to keep pace and hoping rivals slip up.

Ultimately, Chelsea probably can ill-afford to be on ropes of top four and still in two cup competitions come April otherwise they must decide which to prioritise as their best shot at delivering happiness to fans.

 

Crystal Palace

First Six Last Six
Fulham (A) Newcastle (A)
Liverpool (H) Manchester City (H)
Watford (A) Arsenal (A)
Southampton (H) Everton (H)
Huddersfield (A) Cardiff (A)
Newcastle (H) Bournemouth (H)

Crystal Palace definitely shouldn’t repeat last season’s miserable record of no win in opening seven league matches. 

Liverpool at home is doable but I think that the Eagles could very well be able to get some decent points against likes of Fulham, Southampton and Huddersfield. In fact, four points should be a good solid target looking at those games. 

Manchester City and Arsenal aside, their run in looks decent so Palace fans should hopefully be able to plan ahead for next season come mid April. 

 

Everton

First Six Last Six
Wolves (A) Arsenal (H)
Southampton (H) Fulham (A)
Bournemouth (A) Manchester United (H)
Huddersfield (H) Crystal Palace (A)
West Ham (H) Burnley (H)
Arsenal (A) Tottenham (A)

With Marco Silva finally in charge and a decent opening selection of fixtures, I wouldn’t be surprised if Everton start like Watford did last season. 

Arsenal in week 6 though will be the first test of their European aspirations but should have a decent points tally entering that clash.

Even if lose that game, they will definitely be strong contenders for an Europa League spot if can take advantage of the Gunners’ and Chelsea having Thursday-Sunday football headaches.

Whilst the run in looks fairly pleasant, Xmas run-up might actually be key with Liverpool, Newcastle, Watford, Manchester City and Tottenham all in quick succession ahead of a proper festive round of games against; Burnley, Brighton and Leicester. 

If can get 12 points from those batch of fixtures then it will stand the Toffees in good stead entering the second half of season. 

Personally, there’s no way that Everton will repeat what happened last season so a top ten finish would be a great result, although Europa League football should be achievable. 

 

Fulham

First Six Last Six
Crystal Palace (H) Watford (A)
Tottenham (A) Everton (H)
Burnley (H) Bournemouth (A)
Brighton & Hove Albion (A) Cardiff (H)
Manchester City (A) Wolves (A)
Watford (H) Newcastle (H)

Fulham definitely should fancy their chances at survival with a pretty solid start and finish to season. 

Kicking off with two London derbies is great, especially with Tottenham at Wembley where the Cottagers won 1-0 in May against Aston Villa to clinch promotion via play-offs. 

In fact,  anything less than three points from those opening games will be disappointing whilst the run in should be a case of taking points against those around them if in a position to do so. 

Looking at these fixtures, I would be surprised if Fulham go straight back down because their fixtures look nicely spread out, with Xmas definitely looking as impressive as their run in. 

 

Huddersfield Town

First Six Last Six
Chelsea (H) Leicester (H)
Manchester City (A) Tottenham (A)
Cardiff (H) Watford (H)
Everton (A) Liverpool (A)
Crystal Palace (H) Manchester United (H)
Leicester (H) Southampton (A)

Compared to last season’s run in, most Huddersfield fans will probably take this tough opening pair of fixtures in exchange for a fairly easier run in. 

From Cardiff game onwards, if the Terriers can push on and get a solid round of points in the bank, they should be fine come the run in and able to drop some points against Spurs, Liverpool or Manchester United. 

With a decent run in, I spoke to Huddersfield fan, Luke Beaumont about how he sees them faring and he is “very confident that the Terriers will be safe “around March/Early April” without the need “to worry about our run in too much,…”

He also believes that they will “be a stronger and more experienced team this year,…” with another goalscorer in their ranks so will “be looking up rather than down.”

 

Leicester City

First Six Last Six
Manchester United (A) Huddersfield (A)
Wolves (H) Newcastle (H)
Southampton (A) West Ham (A)
Liverpool (H) Arsenal (H)
Bournemouth (A) Manchester City (A)
Huddersfield (H) Chelsea (H)

Leicester fans will probably have mixed feelings about their opening games, with plenty of tough games against likes of Manchester United, Wolves and Liverpool. 

Realistically I reckon two points from those games will be a decent return but they will need to kick on ahead of their run in. 

Home matches against Arsenal and Chelsea in-between away trips to West Ham and Manchester City definitely isn’t a nice way to finish the season.

Should the Foxes be in trouble come then and need three wins to survive, they definitely will be sure-fire bets for relegation as far as I am concerned.

Either way, any major slip ups against non ‘Big Six’ members could end up proving costly come May time. 

 

Liverpool

First Six Last Six
West Ham (H) Southampton (A)
Crystal Palace (A) Chelsea (H)
Brighton & Hove Albion (H) Cardiff (A)
Leicester (A) Huddersfield (H)
Tottenham (A) Newcastle (A)
Southampton (H) Wolves (H)

Liverpool will be pleased that their only ‘Big Six’ clash is Tottenham in their very first home game at new White Hart Lane. 

Their other games early on look fairly easy so if they can get a win over Spurs, we definitely have a three way fight on our hands for the title. 

Jump forward to April/May and their run in looks decent with Chelsea (H) and Newcastle (A) the only potential booby traps if still in title hunt then. 

Xmas however could be their defining period of the season Newcastle (H), Arsenal (H) and Manchester City (A) within six days. If can get at least four points from those games then definitely should be a threat from there on in for the title. 

In summary, a decent run of fixtures for what hopefully will be a title hunting side but Xmas will be pivotal to their season. 

 

Manchester City

First Six Last Six
Arsenal (A) Cardiff (H)
Huddersfield (H) Crystal Palace (A)
Wolves (A) Tottenham (H)
Newcastle (H) Burnley (A)
Fulham (H) Leicester (H)
Cardiff (A) Brighton & Hove Albion (A)

Bet Pep Guardiola wasn’t expecting one hell raiser of a way to kick-start Manchester City’s title defence.

Apart from that, City should enjoy a nice easy winning run with no tricky looking fixtures in succession till February when they face; Arsenal (H), Chelsea (H) and Everton (A).

Add in a possible FA Cup Fourth Round Replay and Champions League last 16 first leg into those two midweeks between league games then it could very well be a tough month, 

Overall, Guardiola and City should be confident of defending their crown and potentially having massive cup runs because their big and small games are nicely spread out without little concern. 

 

Manchester United

First Six Last Six
Leicester (H) Wolves (A)
Brighton & Hove Albion (A) West Ham (H)
Tottenham (H) Everton (A)
Burnley (A) Chelsea (H)
Watford (A) Huddersfield (A)
Wolves (H) Cardiff (H)

The last time that Manchester United finished a season as runners-up in both Premier League and FA Cup, they went on to do the ‘Double’ the following season.

Looking at these set of fixtures, there is no reason why they can’t repeat it with just one ‘Big Six’ fixture featuring at start and end of season.

If we get a tight race for the title, the only place where I can see the Red Devils stumbling is Everton/Chelsea because could very well be playing both within a few days, if were to make FA Cup then Champions League semi-finals 10 days later. 

That is however at opposite end of season so realistically putting that aside, there is no reason why the ‘Double’ can’t be a possibility. 

 

Newcastle United

First Six Last Six
Tottenham (H) Crystal Palace (H)
Cardiff (A) Leicester (A)
Chelsea (H) Southampton (H)
Manchester City (A) Brighton & Hove Albion (A)
Arsenal (H) Liverpool (H)
Crystal Palace (A) Fulham (A)

Newcastle fans are surely despairing at their opening six games, with four of the ‘Big Six’ amongst their opposition. 

Thankfully three of those top clashes are at home and the Magpies did beat two of them there at back end of last season, so not all hope is lost. 

Cardiff and Crystal Palace away definitely will be key otherwise Newcastle could be propping up the league table come late September.

Even if that happens, they should definitely be safe come May because their run-in looks perfect as long as they don’t drop points against those around them then find themselves under pressure to beat Liverpool on penultimate weekend. 

 

Southampton

First Six Last Six
Burnley (H) Liverpool (H)
Everton (A) Wolves (H)
Leicester (H) Newcastle (A)
Crystal Palace (A) Bournemouth (H)
Brighton & Hove Albion (H) West Ham (A)
Liverpool (A) Huddersfield (H)

With Mark Hughes now in charge, Southampton definitely should make the most of their start and run in with Liverpool the only major team who will be a concern.

Even then, Jurgen Klopp side is first up in the run in so this definitely should be a more comfortable season for the Saints, if can find their scoring boots again. 

 

Tottenham Hotspur

First Six Last Six
Newcastle (A) Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
Fulham (H) Huddersfield (H)
Manchester United (A) Manchester City (A)
Watford (A) West Ham (H)
Liverpool (H) Bournemouth (A)
Brighton & Hove Albion (A) Everton (H)

An opening day trip to St James Park will bring back nice memories given that they went there in same match week last season and won 2-0.

Fulham at Wembley will be fairly interesting because it will be their only home game there so will feel more of a neutral occasion really as well as a London derby. 

Whilst Watford and Brighton away will be winnable, Manchester United  and Liverpool games could be key to whether Spurs are ready for another title tilt. More so Liverpool with it being their first home match at the new White Hart Lane.  

Tottenham’s run in definitely looks quite cosy but the trip to Man City could be key to the title race or a top four finish. 

Ultimately the opening games will be key to what Tottenham do this season but watch out for last weekend of November when Spurs host Chelsea before facing Arsenal a week later.

Those two games could be key in terms of shaping up their momentum entering the hectic winter period and beyond. 

 

Watford 

First Six Last Six
Brighton & Hove Albion (H) Fulham (H)
Burnley (A) Arsenal (H)
Crystal Palace (H) Huddersfield (A)
Tottenham Hotspur (H) Wolves (H)
Manchester United (H) Chelsea (A)
Fulham (A) West Ham (H)

Watford are bound to be satisfied with these fixtures but the three consecutive home games could come back to bite them later in season. 

Remember Southampton last season? They had three home games early on in season and very nearly paid the price come May as a result of three consecutive away games at a key stage in season. 

Luckily, the league have been kind and not given the Hornets that same fate in second half of season. 

That will benefit them come Spring and I can see them repaying that fortune by securing safety before their final three matches. 

 

West Ham United

First Six Last Six
Liverpool (A) Chelsea (A)
Bournemouth (H) Manchester United (A)
Arsenal (A) Leicester (H)
Wolves (H) Tottenham (A)
Everton (A) Southampton (H)
Chelsea (H) Watford (A)

West Ham will be pleased with their start as Manuel Pellegrini commences his Hammers reign at Anfield. 

I think that they might struggle on the road early on but Bournemouth and Wolves at home should provide nice opportunities to get two early wins on board.

Their away run in is just as tough but I fancy them to get majority of their points against those around them this season.

With Pellegrini in charge, I can see them surviving but will need to really upset the ‘Big Six’ applecart if want a top ten or Europa League finish. 

 

Wolverhampton Wanderers

First Six Last Six
Everton (H) Manchester United (H)
Leicester (A) Southampton (A)
Manchester City (H) Brighton & Hove Albion (H)
West Ham (A) Watford (A)
Burnley (H) Fulham (H)
Manchester United (A) Liverpool (A)

Newly promoted Wolves will be elated to have Everton at home on opening weekend, given Everton’s recent habit of drawing 2-2 on opening day against newly promoted sides. 

After that, I think Wolves will fancy their chances in following four games before a trip to Manchester United, where they will more than likely fail to get any points. 

In the run in, Wolves must win two of their three home games and perhaps get a win at Southampton if want to be sure of safety. Otherwise they will have to go to Anfield and produce a shock in order to stay up, which is easier said than done if Liverpool can maintain their deadly home form. 

Overall, a solid start but run-in could go either way depending on results before then. 

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