On Monday morning the full fixture list for the Premier League was announced. Sir Alex Ferguson is still chasing his 13th Premier League title after the most dramatic end to a season that has ever occurred when Sergio Aguero struck that 95th minute winner to send United crashing back down to second place.
There will be no doubting United’s title credentials after signing Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa from Dortmund and Crewe’s young starlet in Nick Powell. They will bolster their side in the lead up to the new season.
Ferguson’s team faces David Moyes’ Everton in their opening fixture at Goodison Park. It won’t be an easy feat to get past Everton on the opening day neither will entertaining Martin Jol’s Fulham in the subsequent match.
In September, United face their first real tests when they play the newly promoted Southampton side at St. Mary’s and a tie at home to Wigan who stayed up via the skin of their teeth last season. However, as is the usual September tradition nowadays, Fergie’s men take a trip to Anfield before Tottenham head up north to face United to close out September.
This crucial run continues as a trip to last season’s surprise package, Newcastle – a ground where United were thrashed 3-0 last season – will be followed up by a home clash against Stoke.
Their fixture engineers have given United no favours as a trip to Stamford Bridge which involved that pulsating 3-3 draw in January will be followed by another crucial clash which pits arch nemesis, Ferguson against Wenger at Old Trafford.
Wenger will be out to re-claim some pride after that 8-2 demolition last August and will give United a stern test, no doubt about it. Trips to Villa Park and Carrow Road are never easy, as Norwich proved last season as United looked to the aging yet graceful Ryan Giggs to net a stoppage time winner.
Home clashes against London sides in QPR and West Ham followed by a trip to the Madejski Stadium is all just pretence or preparation before the biggest match of the season as United will go the battle ground where they ultimately lost the title on April 30th as the Manchester derby takes place on the 8th of December.
It is key, during the Christmas packed period, for United to rattle through some easier games and in particular, at home. Sunderland will be welcomed before a trip to Wales and then the return fixture at home to Newcastle on Boxing Day. Blackburn proved last season that nothing is guaranteed especially around the Christmas period.
Both West Brom and Wigan will face the 19-time champions as the year ticks over to 2013 but not before the crucial double header as Liverpool come to Old Trafford and a trip to North London to face Tottenham, which will hopefully be sandwiched in between the League Cup and FA Cup ties.
Southampton will close out United’s tough January month and in February when Fulham, Everton and QPR will have to be tackled before United can push onto March as they look forward to the business end of the season.
Norwich will travel to United in March followed by the newly promoted pairing of West Ham and Reading and then United will travel to the North-East to face Sunderland.
The fixtures come thick and fast as the Manchester derby opens up in April and many will already have this scheduled in their calendar as a reminder of the importance of this fixture, and perhaps a match that will ultimately settle the title.
Aston Villa at home is the next fixture and if United are still participating in the Champions League at this stage, a quarter-final would be sandwiched in between a trip to the Britannia, almost magnifying the difficulty.
A trip to Arsenal on the same weekend that United lost the title in that 1-0 loss at the Etihad last season as the follow up home match will be equally crucial and in May, United will welcome Chelsea who will be without their star striker over the years in Didier Drogba. Drogba signed for Shanghai Shenhua, who United will face in the pre-season, so we definitely haven’t seen the last of him.
Having seen off the hardest tests, United could wrap up a Premier League title at home on the penultimate weekend for only the fourth time in Premier League history when Swansea travel to Old Trafford which is followed by a trip to the Hawthorns to close out the season.
United’s full Premier League fixture list
18.08 – Everton v. UNITED
25.08 – UNITED v. Fulham
01.09 – Southampton v. UNITED
15.09 – UNITED v. Wigan
22.09 – Liverpool v. UNITED
29.09 – UNITED v. Tottenham
06.10 – Newcastle v. UNITED
20.10 – UNITED v. Stoke
27.10 – Chelsea v. UNITED
03.11 – UNITED v. Arsenal
10.11 – Aston Villa v. UNITED
17.11 – Norwich v. UNITED
24.11 – UNITED v. QPR
27.11 – UNITED v. West Ham
01.12 – Reading v. UNITED
08.12 – Man City v. UNITED
15.12 – UNITED v. Sunderland
22.12 – Swansea v. UNITED
26.12 – UNITED v. Newcastle
29.12 – UNITED v. West Brom
01.01 – Wigan v. UNITED
12.01 – UNITED v. Liverpool
19.01 – Tottenham v. UNITED
29.01 – UNITED v. Southampton
02.02 – Fulham v. UNITED
09.02 – UNITED v. Everton
23.02 – QPR v. UNITED
02.03 – UNITED v. Norwich
09.03 – West Ham v. UNITED
16.03 – UNITED v. Reading
30.03 – Sunderland v. UNITED
06.04 – UNITED v. Man City
13.04 – Stoke v. UNITED
20.04 – UNITED v. Aston Villa
27.04 – Arsenal v. UNITED
04.05 – UNITED v. Chelsea
12.05 – UNITED v. Swansea
19.05 – West Brom v. UNITED
By Sean McGuire
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Published with permission from Red Army - Manchester United News.