"Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all"
Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers
Even a celebrated gloom merchant like Emily Dickinson can be hopeful every so often, so if, as a fan, you can't allow a shard of hope to penetrate your gloomy and world-weary soul on the morning that the new campaign's fixtures are released, then football is not the passion for you, dear reader. On this day, each year everything is possible, irrespective of what is probable. The wildest flights of fancy are indulged in and must be tolerated, for the future has not yet happened. Hope is alive, at least until the cruel vicissitudes of life tear it apart.
With such positivity in mind let us peruse some of the more fascinating match-ups thrown out completely at random by the Premier League's fixture computer. Before we do so, may I add one caveat that often gets lost in the heady enthusiasm of the day. These fixtures are only set in stone in as far as the Television Gods deem them to be, so before you go booking your special birthday/anniversary/divorce celebration, bear in mind that Sky may decide that your chosen point of celebratory focus needs to be moved to a more profitable slot. Damn it, I apologise -- there'll be no more cynicism from me in this article.
Certain issues prevent me from furnishing you with a full programme of Liverpool's games, but should you wish to view the complete list of fixtures, as it currently stands, the official website has obliged and if you would prefer a more comprehensive, week-by-week for the entire division, the same site also has that, for your viewing pleasure.
Liverpool begin their campaign with a visit from Stoke City. This season, under tiki-taka enthusiast, Mark Hughes, they will, of course, be a completely different prospect from the lumbering, agricultural giants of yore. No, those days disappeared with baseball-cap sporting, naked brawler, Tony Pulis. Expect a cornucopia of artistry instead. The Reds also visit Aston Villa and play the second round of the Capital One Cup before finishing the month with a home match against Manchester United, already a HUGE game in the head of this particular scribbler.
Many amateur mathematicians and punters will be eyeing September with a view to some Liverpool victories, as away fixtures to Swansea City and Sunderland bookend a month that also features a home match with Southampton and the third round of the Capital One Cup, should LFC still be involved. Already, the lack of European games is notable, with only eight games in eight weeks.
October may have only three matches for Liverpool to concern themselves with. Celebrity jokester and banter enthusiast, Ian Holloway, will take his Crystal Palace side to Anfield on the fifth and a fortnight later Liverpool visit The Mike Ashley Super Sports Direct Bowl to face Joe Kinnear's potty-mouth and Alan Pardew's latest beard. The month concludes with a home tie against West Bromwich Albion and a chance to enjoy Steve Clarke's hobo-chic.
The penultimate month of 2013 sees home matches against Arsenal, Everton and new boys Hull as well as a trip to Fulham . The stand-out there is the derby and my travel arrangements are already made. We can only hope that Everton respect the FSG "values" and leave the purple pyro at home. Roberto Martinez will have enough on his plate.
The madness that is December is really striking when one views the list, as there are SIX matches wedged into the four weeks. It'll almost be as if Liverpool are competing in one of Europe's premier competitions! Norwich, West Ham United (complete with newly signed Big Lug, Andy Carroll) and newbies Cardiff City (with added Craig Bellamy) will all visit L4, whilst the Reds travel to Tottenham Hotspur on the fourteenth before a pair of hugely demanding trips to Manchester City and then Chelsea over the course of three days. Nice one, FA.
Having played every club once at that stage, we should have a very clear idea of where Liverpool football club is headed as the new year begins. With only the two cup competitions to muddy the waters, it is fair to say the the Premier League is the be-all and end-all for Brendan Rodgers this season. Another campaign of notable progress and a credible tilt at Champions League football will give him breathing space for continued development. Should that seem unlikely at the half-way point, I would genuinely fear for his position.
Sky's meddling only really comes into its own at this point and to focus too much on the dates is folly but the second half of the campaign has a few notable moments in the offing as January concludes with the derby at Goodison and February has the home game against Arsene Wenger's men. A double over the bluenoses and a six point haul from our two games against the Gunners would please me immensely.
March sees us travel to Old Trafford to face renowned "winner" David Moyes' United. In my mind this will be a pivotal moment in which the baton of power is passed back to Liverpool who begin the climb back to "their f*****g perch" as the Mancs begin their slow decline -- see? HOPE!!!
Home matches with Manchester City and Chelsea make April a notable month and should the season still be alive, those two games will assume massive importance. The season concludes with only two games in May, Newcastle United's visit to Anfield being the final match of the campaign.
So then, at this point all things are possible and it's not at all foolish to make rash predictions about points totals based on assumptions about potential results. In many ways it's the purest time of the year for a football fan. The heart is full and has not yet been razed by bitter experience and disappointment. This could be our year.