Not such a tall oder then. Having grabbed nine points from an easy start to the 2011-12 season, we would need only to hold our own until the final, title-clinching game at home to Manchester United on May 13. The heavies of the Football Data Co stand between Salut! Sunderland and publication of the full list, but we can say it should be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt.. As Pete Sixsmith points out, the first two games are already prime targets for switching …
Liverpool away, Newcastle at home. The old fixture computer has certainly given us a couple of beauties to start the season with. Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll followed by whatever ragtag bunch of nonentities Pardew has managed to throw together over the summer. And we have three weeks to clean up the mess that the overweight sweaty ones invariably leave behind.
Unfortunately, I can’t see either of these two starting at 3pm on a Saturday. The media’s long running love affair with all things Anfield and Dalglish, plus the expected involvement of Jordan, will have Sky and ESPN going weak at the knees on an opening day which has no real standout game.
Trying to second-guess the TV moguls is an art I have not yet mastered, but I would imagine that ours, Manchester City v Swansea, West Brom v Manchester United and the Mags v Arsenal are the ones they will be fighting for. In the interest of the pubs of Liverpool, let’s have a 5.30 on a Saturday, please.
A week later, we “welcome” our dear friends from the banks of the coaly Tyne. It could be a game where both are looking for their first points of the season, but, equally, both will be optimistic. No doubt they will be reminding us of the debacle in October but we did finish two places above them, so let’s make sure we remind them loud and long about that.
We get the 349-mile trek to South Wales out of the way early. They have an interesting start, with a trip to City first and an inaugural PL home game against Wigan and Roberto Martinez, not of Aston Villa. Martinez is widely credited with setting the style of play that Swansea and Wigan adopt, so by the time we roll into the city of Dylan Thomas they will no longer be fearing that dark night of the Premier League.
In fact, the whole list looks pretty well balanced, apart from two London games in a row in December. Spurs on a Saturday, QPR on a Tuesday – moreover, a Tuesday night a week before Christmas – but for the retired folk who follow the team, it’s not a bad one. All day drinkies in Shepherd’s Bush! Bring it on!!
The other London games are reasonably well spread out, with a lovely trip to Craven Cottage on the 39th anniversary of Stokoe’s Superstars and the almost traditional trip to the Emirates in early autumn.
Home games to look forward to are the arrival of Aston Villa with their disgruntled fans and Darr£n B£nt in late October and a decent run before Christmas as Fulham, Wigan and Blackburn come calling.
The now traditional post Christmas slump should start with in February, when our three games that month consist of a visit to Stoke (where last season’s began), a home game against Arsenal and a trip to the Hawthorns, where we have played like drains on our last two visits.
The last game is a real mouth waterer – Manchester United at home, as both teams go head to head for the Premier League title. By that time, I confidently expect that we will need a single point to clinch it; Darron Gibson to score the title winning goal in the 89th minute, perhaps?