"Family and friends know, after long years of wearying experience, that the fixture list always has the last word in any arrangement; they understand, or at least accept, that christenings or weddings or any gatherings, which in other families would take unquestioned precedence, can only be plotted after consultation."
~ Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch
There are people in the world who do not plan their lives around the fixture list. We are not those people. The World Cup may offer a temporary distraction from the otherwise barren landscape that is the off season, but in spite of the excellent football we've been lucky to enjoy in the last week, many football fans just want to know what their social calendar will — or, more accurately, won't — look like for nine months starting in mid-August.
There are plans to make! Tickets to buy! Social engagements to turn down! Bring us the fixture list!
The Premier League gods deigned that it would be so, and earlier this morning the league released the fixture list for the 2014-15 season.
In general, not a bad series of draws. There are a few crunchy bits here and there, but overall everything is not the worst. Some highlights / lowlights:
- Liverpool kick off the season vs Southampton at home, which could be awkward for multiple reasons. Liverpool will be looking to both get their season off on the right foot in front of the home crowd and will want to exorcise the ghost of last season's loss in the same fixture. Couple this with the fact that the club have already recruited one Southampton lad in Rickie Lambert and are still kinda sorta maybe in for Adam Lallana, and Anfield could be hosting one cranky bunch of Saints fans on August 16.
- Liverpool immediately follow the home opener with two away matches to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. An away match at White Hart Lane may no longer cause anyone to panic after last year's huge win in north London, but under new leadership Spurs may present a different challenge this year.
- The stretch of seven matches in October and November looks manageable if Liverpool improve their away form, with Chelsea's visit to Anfield being the only fixture against a team from last year's top eight in the table. This is a crucial stretch during which Liverpool will be challenging the bulk of their group stage Champions League ties, so the added help on the domestic fixture front is welcome.
- December is always terrible, but it brings the first match of the season against Manchester United. A visit to Old Trafford followed immediately by hosting Arsenal at home isn't ideal, but those mid-month matches are preceded and followed by matches against newly promoted teams, almost relegated teams, and Swansea.
- February is shaping up to be Liverpool's toughest month opponent wise, with back-to-back ties vs Everton (A), Spurs (H), Southampton (A), and City (H). Should Liverpool make it out of the Champions League group stage, the two-leg Round of 16 fixtures would further complicate this month.
- Liverpool end their season with four matches from six on the road, including ending the year with the most loathesome fixture of all: a visit to Stoke City. If Liverpool are still well in contention for the title at this point in the season, April & May could prove to be more tricky than February.
Which matches are you most looking forward to? Least looking forward to? Anything striking fear into your heart? Let us know!