The fixtures for the 2021/22 Premier League season have been released and it’s time for fans to start plotting their team’s route to glory.
While a win is always worth three points, they can feel that little bit more valuable depending on what part of the season they’re earned in. Getting off to a fast start, managing the festive period and finishing strong are all vital in the Premier League.
This in mind, we looked at the following three stretches…
- Opening (first five fixtures)
- Christmas period (five fixtures from December 15 to January 1st*)
- Run-in (final five fixtures)
…and singled out the teams with the toughest and easiest games from the following categories:
- The six favourites to make the top four with Sky Bet (Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Leicester, Spurs)
- The six favourites for relegation with Sky Bet (Norwich, Watford, Brentford, Palace, Burnley, Newcastle)
So who are the biggest winners and losers from the Premier League 2021/22 fixture schedule? Read on for our picks.
Who has the toughest start to the 2021/22 season?
Opening fixtures: Crystal Palace (h), Arsenal (a), Liverpool (a), Aston Villa (h), Tottenham Hotspur (a)
Chelsea (5/1) are second only to Manchester City (4/6) in the running for the Premier League title, according to Sky Bet, but that could change if they don’t hit the ground running. The Blues face London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham, as well as Liverpool across their opening five games, with all three away from home. Even after that, they host Man City in game six. That should give us an early taste of their credentials.
Opening fixtures: Liverpool (h), Manchester City (a), Leicester City (h), Arsenal (a), Watford (h)
Norwich are the 10/11 favourites to go straight back down to the Championship and when you take a look at their opening four fixtures, you can see exactly way. The Canaries face the last two Premier League champions in their first two games, before hosting FA Cup holders Leicester and travelling to Arsenal. That home game against Watford could be crucial in getting Daniel Farke off the mark.
Who has the easiest start to the 2021/22 season?
Opening fixtures: Norwich City (a), Burnley (h), Chelsea (h), Leeds Utd (a), Crystal Palace (h)
Liverpool are priced at 5/1 alongside Chelsea to regain the Premier League title and it’s easy to see them being top of the table by the end of September. The Reds face newly-promoted Norwich in their opening match and are 14 games unbeaten against the Canaries, while strugglers from last season Burnley come to Anfield on matchday two. Liverpool’s only game against a Champions League side in their opening five fixtures is against Chelsea. But the Reds are at home and Jurgen Klopp will be confident that having a crowd back inside Anfield should make home advantage count again — something Liverpool desperately missed last season.
Man Utd also have a favourable opening set of fixtures although starting against Leeds United will be tough given their rivalry, even at home. Trips to Southampton, Wolves and West Ham are complicated by the return of crowds, giving each of those sides a boost against the Red Devils.
Man Utd’s opening five fixtures: Leeds United (h), Southampton (a), Wolverhampton Wanderers (a), Newcastle United (h), West Ham United (a)
Opening fixtures: Arsenal (h), Crystal Palace (a), Aston Villa (a), Brighton (h), Wolverhampton Wanderers (a)
While Norwich’s return to the Premier League gets off to a horrible start, Brentford will fancy their chances as they begin life in the top flight. The Bees have every chance of catching Arsenal off guard at home on the opening day, while they also host Brighton on matchday four. Their three away trips are all at teams who finished in the bottom half last season.
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Who has the toughest Christmas run?
Festive fixtures: Tottenham Hotspur (h), Everton (a), Manchester City (a), Liverpool (h), Norwich City (h)
Leicester City have blown Champions League qualification two years in a row now but are priced at 9/2 to finally get over the line this time, behind only last season’s top four. If they’re to overcome that hurdle, the Foxes will have to negotiate a testing festive period that sees them host Spurs and Liverpool while also travelling to defending champions Man City. Even a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton isn’t a straightforward task.
Festive fixtures: Liverpool (a), Manchester City (h), Manchester Utd (h), Everton (a), Southampton (a)
Newcastle rallied late to move away from relegation trouble last term and with their festive season kicking off with fixtures against Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd and ending with trips to Everton and Southampton, they may need to channel more heroics again this time. The Magpies are an 11/4 bet to face the drop this season.
Who has the easiest Christmas run?
Festive fixtures: Brentford (a), Brighton (h), Newcastle United (a), Burnley (h), Wolves (h)
With silver medals coming out of his ears, the next step for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to lead Manchester United to a trophy. Do they have what it takes to match Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea? A festive run starting away at newly-promoted Brentford and concluding with fixtures against four bottom-half teams from last season could offer a timely mid-campaign boost to their 8/1 title odds.
Festive fixtures: Watford (h), Aston Villa (a), Everton (h), Manchester United (a), Leeds United (a)
An away trip to Old Trafford on December 28th won’t be easy for Burnley, but Sean Dyche will expect his side to pick up points at home to Watford and Everton, while away games at Villa and Leeds are certainly manageable.
Who has the toughest run-in?
Final fixtures: West Ham United (h), Everton (a), Wolverhampton Wanderers (h), Manchester United (a), Watford (h)
Not only do Chelsea have a tough start to the 2021/22 season, but they also face a challenging end to the campaign. The Blues face Champions League contenders from last season and London rivals West Ham at Stamford Bridge before travelling to Everton, while a trip to Old Trafford on the penultimate weekend could prove to be a vital fixture at the top of the Premier League.
Final fixtures: Norwich City (a), Liverpool (h), Manchester City (a), Arsenal (h), Burnley (a)
As well as a horrible festive period, Newcastle face the prospect of fixtures against Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal during the run-in. Those games are book-ended by vital clashes away at Norwich and Burnley, who might well be battling with the Magpies toward the bottom of the table.
Who has the easiest run-in?
Final fixtures: Watford (h), Leeds United (a), Newcastle (h), West Ham (a), Aston Villa (h)
Pep Guardiola will be expecting a much closer title race this season with Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd among those fancied to challenge his side. Even so, Man City are the favourites and given the toughest of their final five fixtures (on paper, at least) comes away at West Ham, it could be hard to catch them if they head into the final months top of the table.
Final fixtures: Wolverhampton Wanderers (h), Watford (a), Aston Villa (h), Tottenham Hotspur (a), Newcastle United (h)
Burnley are 11/4 fifth-favourites to the drop this season according to Sky Bet but if they can keep their heads above water until the run-in, they should be fine with home games against Wolves, Aston Villa and Newcastle among their final fixtures. The biggest late-season test for the Clarets comes away from home against Tottenham, who might well be chasing Champions League qualification by that point.