The 2014 Premier League fixture list has been published, all subject to change as the vast majority sit at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. That won't last too long.
Away to Palace on the opening day, then home to Swansea and then - on the 31st August - away to Arsenal. A trilogy of travel within London.
If there was ever a reason to get all our transfer work completed early, the game at the Emirates was it (deadline transfer day is actually on the 2nd September). Although at the same time, a NLD this early in the season almost feels like a NLD several months too early. Might actually work in our favour for once. Three games in, little to no pressure in terms of points, but the usual hefty weight of expectation in terms of pride and desire. One thing beyond certainty, the result won't define either club, either way. Much like when beating them 2-1 at the Lane last season didn't quite work out in the aftermath and that game was at the very centre point of the cauldron at what was meant to be the most imperative stage in the season. Having said all that. There is pressure in terms of points. Three successive wins to kick off the season would be a touch on the delightful side and allow for early season momentum.
I'm getting ahead of myself.
Not much point over analysing the rest of the fixture list. Certain months might look tricky/difficult but then any given run of games will cause concern on paper before a ball has even been kicked. We play these teams every year, right?
The stand-out has to be Newcastle United away, on a Wednesday, at 19:45. CONSPIRACY!
March looks tasty with the Arsenal at the Lane return fixture that follows Chelsea away. The run-in looks (jinxing it here) relatively comfortable. Personally, all I want is for us to continue our strong form away from home and aim to win more games at home. If we're good enough again, we'll win more than we draw and lose even less and perhaps not drop enough cheap points to leave any lingering damage when the season ends.
I'm getting ahead of myself again.
So in conclusion, we get to play everyone twice, home and away, across several months. Pretty much standard stuff.
With all the glamour and hype that this list generates, one or two of you might have missed a far more prominent slice of news; fans marching on the Premier League's HQ today.
Today’s protest by Spirit of Shankly (SoS) at the Premier League’s headquarters highlights what fans have been saying for years – ticket prices are too high at too many clubs.
The Football Supporters’ Federation fully supports SoS’s efforts to highlight this issue. Along with campaigns like the FSF’s Twenty’s Plenty, this demonstrates that fans can't be squeezed forever.
The protest is timed to coincide with the release of 2013/14’s Premier League fixtures and this should be a great day for supporters as anticipation builds for the season ahead.
Instead, all too many fans will be worrying about how they can afford season tickets, away days, or how they can get to games whose kick-off has been shunted around for TV’s benefit.
Of course it’s the clubs’ willingness to bend to TV’s will, often at the expense of the match-going fan, which has helped secure a £5.5bn global rights deal for 2013-16.
Clubs are swimming in cash and the increase from the last deal alone is enough to cut every single ticket at every single game by £51.30.
Supporters understand such extreme reductions won't happen but, after decades of spiralling player wages and ticket prices, maybe it’s the match-going fan’s turn to feel the benefit of huge revenues via lower ticket prices.
- Sign the FSF's Twenty's Plenty for Away Tickets here.