Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Premier League 2022-23 fixtures: 10 dates to know from Erik ten Hag’s Man United debut to Liverpool vs. City

The Premier League fixtures have landed. Manchester City’s title defense begins in tricky fashion away to West Ham United, and Nottingham Forest return to the Premier League after more than two decades away with a trip to Newcastle. Championship winners Fulham will play host to Liverpool, whilst new Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag gets up and running against Brighton.

Looking further ahead this season comes with an intriguing foible of its own, the six-week gap between games in November and December, making room for the 2022 World Cup, though those players competing in both will certainly not feel like they have had much of a rest.

Here are 10 of the most intriguing dates coming up in 2022-23. Remember, aside from the opening weekend, kick-off dates and times will not be confirmed for these games until broadcasters have made their selection.

1. August 5: Arsenal’s tough opening night at Crystal Palace

Once more, Mikel Arteta’s side is invited to raise the curtain on the new Premier League season, and there is no doubt that TV executives will be hoping for a repeat of 2021-22’s dramatic debut when the COVID-addled Gunners were smashed 2-0 by newly promoted Brentford. Illness might not be a factor this time around, but even at full strength Arsenal will surely have their work cut out for them away to Crystal Palace.

Like a London cabbie, Arsenal are extremely reluctant when it comes to making journeys south of the river. No wonder, Selhurst Park is littered with the bones of seasons gone by for Arteta and his predecessors, most notably two 3-0 losses in the last five years, both in the sort of raucous night games that they will face on the opening day of 2022-23. Palace seem to approach their biggest games without fear, and all too often the Gunners are quite the opposite. This could be another grueling night for those travelling from north London.

2. August 13: Top flight football returns to the City Ground

It is something of a shame that Nottingham Forest begin their season away to Newcastle, but when their supporters have been waiting 23 years for top flight football at the City Ground, what difference does another seven days make? Life in the Premier League will not be easy for Steve Cooper’s side, who will be facing another likely top-half team in West Ham United before clashes with Everton, Tottenham and Manchester City round out August.

Perhaps that is preferable, and certainly it will offer Cooper and those above him the chance to make another assessment of their squad when they come face to face with the best England has to offer. In the meantime, one cannot question their commitment to pushing forward in the market. With Brice Samba’s future in doubt, they are attempting to sign Dean Henderson on loan from Manchester United and are also chasing Ainsley Maitland-Niles. It may not be the end of the world if these players are bedding in just when the fixture list is at its most daunting.

Craving even more coverage of the Premier League? Listen back to CBS Sports Golazo’s Twitter Space as Jonathan Johnson, Ben Jacobs and James Benge brought you live reaction to the fixture list and looked ahead to the summer transfer window.

3. August 20: Ten Hag’s first marquee match

The fixture list has not been kind on Manchester United’s new manager. Whilst Erik ten Hag tries to drill a cohesive strategy and identity into a club whose overarching philosophy over the last decade-plus seems to have been “any engagement is good engagement,” he will be coming up against teams who go into this season knowing exactly what they are doing. Brighton and Brentford will give no quarter to United early on, but it is against Liverpool in his third league game that snap judgements will really be made.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick did at least set the bar so low that simply not being routed will constitute progress, but the new boss will know that the Reds are the benchmark against whom he will be judged. Will he be tempted, as such, to take the game to Jurgen Klopp’s side and try to prove that his team are immediately capable of going head-to-head with Europe’s best? It would be a high-risk approach but could bring with it great rewards.

4. September 10: The tests keep coming for Antonio Conte

Tottenham’s rapid business in the transfer market so far this summer will be welcomed by Antonio Conte, even if he does give the air of a man who would not be entirely happy if Daniel Levy procured Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland and Trent Alexander-Arnold for him. Spurs will need as much quality as they can muster early on for what is a trying fixture list that pits them against Chelsea, West Ham and Manchester City in their first six games.

That is a marked contrast to City, who will welcome Tottenham to the Etihad Stadium in early September having eased their way into a title defense that looks like it should start in comfortable fashion. Conte’s side, then, will offer the first chance for Erling Haaland to prove he can do it against the toughest of Premier League defenses. Given his track record so far, would anyone doubt his ability to do so?

5. October 19: Last chance saloon for England hopefuls

Gareth Southgate is yet to confirm the date on which he will name his England squad, but it is expected to be around October 20. The night before, then, might be too late for those on the fringes but Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford will hope that is not the case. Both seemed to be the subject of a coded warning from the Three Lions manager, who noted there was a lot for players at Manchester United to do if they are to earn their spot in Qatar.

Might they be able to take the final leap against Tottenham? By mid-October Ten Hag’s side should be developing a sense of cohesion, and if his work at Ajax is anything to go on, then his wide forwards should end up with plenty of direct contributions to the scoresheet that might just put pressure on Southgate to consider their cases. One final big pitch under the Old Trafford lights might seal the deal.

6. November 12: A day for upsets?

What impact will the looming mid-season World Cup have on the last weeks of the Premier League before its winter break? Past evidence suggests that those players who know they are bound for the tournament do not exactly slow down in the months of April and May but there is of course an obvious explanation for this: be it a relegation battle or a title charge, there is plenty at stake for their clubs before they even think about the summer tournament. This time around, with half a season still to follow Qatar, the pressure will naturally not feel so intense.

In that period between the squads being announced and domestic leagues begrudgingly coming to a halt (a mere nine days in the Premier League’s case), will internationals be flying into tackles with the same vigor as usual? You could scarcely blame them if they didn’t. As such, this final weekend might offer a few more upsets for those teams who are about to lose a host of players to the World Cup. Fulham vs. Manchester United and Newcastle United vs. Chelsea, in particular, look like potential trap games.

7. December 26: Back with a bang

Eight days after lifting the trophy high into the Lusail Iconic Stadium night, Harry Kane will be back at it at the Brentford Community Stadium. What? A man can dream, no? Whoever it is that celebrates Christmas as world champions, we can rest assured that those players returning to the Premier League will be in for another round of the threshing machine that is the English festive schedule.

There may be no extra game between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve but the compensation to broadcasters is another round straight after on January 2, meaning players who have given their all in pursuit of glory for their countries return to three games in eight days. The recent round of heavy-legged Nations League ties may merely be a portent for what is to come in the Premier League, where the most precious resource of all might be players who can still run around a bit.

8. February 4: Will the Newcastle rise continue?

Newcastle may well prove to be the most intriguing team to follow throughout this season. There will be those — including one supporter who appeared on CBS Sports Golazo’s Twitter Space as the fixtures dropped — expecting the Magpies to soar to the upper echelons of the Premier League in no time whatsoever. They’ll also hope February will bring with it the biggest and brightest names snatched up from the World Cup by the Saudi owners.

Manchester City have shown that once a team with unlimited wealth get to the top they are nigh on impossible to dislodge, but it took them several years to get there after being bought in 2008. The field is even more crowded now. What might be progress for Newcastle in the first full season post takeover, instead, is to be at or around the level of their opponents in this particular game, West Ham United. Well run, wealthy clubs with strong squads that sit just outside the top six should be Newcastle’s goal for 2022-23. This game will offer a sense as to whether they are achieving it.

9. April 1: The title decider?

When Manchester City and Liverpool met on April 10 last season both managers were insistent that the result would not dictate the course of the title race. With seven games to go afterwards there were too many opportunities for further dropped points, they reasoned. In reality they would each drop just two in their remaining league games; the 2-2 draw they shared did not quite decide the title race but a win would have if the subsequent results had remained the same.

Such are the heights that these two are scaling it may well be that this game, nearly two months before the season reaches its conclusions, proves to be the turning point in the title race. Both sides were great last term, and with Darwin Núñez and Haaland added to their attacking armories, they promise to be even better. If they can’t find a way to take points off each other, who will?

10. May 28: Relegation showdown at Goodison

The final day already looks to have a few intriguing matchups. If things really go right for Newcastle might there be a battle for European football between them and Chelsea, around whom so much is uncertain this summer, at Stamford Bridge? Will Manchester City and Liverpool’s latest title tussle be decided on the playing fields of Brentford and Southampton? It is of course too soon to be sure, but it might that the biggest outstanding matter on the final day is decided at Goodison Park.

Cash-strapped Everton survived last season but if they lose Richarlison, 2022-23 might be no less draining. Newly promoted Bournemouth, meanwhile, look to have a good squad but one that could benefit from a fair degree of strengthening if it is to not get dragged into the relegation battle. The final day of the season rarely provides a straight playoff for survival. This one might.

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