Opening fixture should focus Newcastle after summer of turmoil

Posted by Marc Duffy

Mike Ashley with Derek LlambiasGettyImagesMike Ashley with Derek Llambias, who left Newcastle on fixture day

The fixtures for the forthcoming Premier League season were announced this on Wednesday, just minutes after the unsurprising news that Newcastle United managing director Derek Llambias had resigned from his post.

What is sure to be an extended summer of turmoil on Tyneside won't be helped by as tough an opening fixture as they could possibly have - away to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on August 17.

After the City game, Newcastle will play back to back home games against West Ham (Sam Allardyce, Kevin Nolan and probably Andy Carroll) and Fulham with a Capital One Cup game sandwiched in between.

Liverpool come to Newcastle on October 19 and surely that one can't be as bad for the home fans as last season’s 6-0 thrashing in the fixture. The following weekend brings the first derby of the season with Newcastle making the journey down to Wearside to face Sunderland on October 26.

November will be a key month in shaping Newcastle's season as they play three of their four fixtures at St James' Park. Chelsea, Norwich and West Brom will be the opponents in front of the Gallowgate, with a trip to Tottenham being the only away game.

If Newcastle progress beyond the third round of the FA cup (which is far from certain) they will play 12 games in 56 days over December and January. This period includes a rare home Boxing Day game (Stoke City) and Arsenal at home two days later - perfect for supporters who have holiday over Christmas and want to make the most of their time off in the bars of Tyneside.

Newcastle's New Year's Day game is away at West Brom - there will be plenty of bleary eyed, hungover Geordies making their way to the Midlands for that one.

The home derby will take place on February 1.

The season ends with games against Cardiff (H) and Liverpool (A) in May.

All in all this is a more balanced fixture list than last season, in terms of facing difficult runs of games (Newcastle played against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal in only 14 days in December last year)

Even as an adult I've always looked forward to the fixtures being released - planning away games and looking for the more exciting home games. This time around I can't bring myself to be excited at all. I fear another long season ahead.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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