Making some sense of City’s 2016/17 schedule… it’s Talking Points!
@markbooth_mcfc analyses five points for discussion on the morning the Premier League fixtures were released.
1 Pep v Big Sam
Welcome to the Premier League! Pep Guardiola’s first official assignment is a home game against Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland.
It’s a fixture which has traditionally been kind to City with the Blues unbeaten in home games against the Black Cats since the late nineties.
It was 1997/98 in the Old Division One when Sunderland last beat City away from home in the league, with Kevin Phillips scoring the winner.
Big Sam relishes picking his wits against the best managers and will surely have been rubbing his hands at the prospect of locking horns with Guardiola when he learned of this opening clash.
It doesn’t get much easier for City’s new boss with a visit to Stoke his first Premier League away day.
2 Early Derby
One of the games always writ large in capital letters in City supporters’ diaries is the first Manchester derby of the season and it’s an early one this time around.
Guardiola meets Jose Mourinho for the first time since their El Clasico days at Old Trafford in the fourth game of the campaign.
It’s slated for 10 September but that will surely change when broadcasters make their picks in the coming weeks.
3 Opposition View
How did news of City v Sunderland on the opening day go down in the North East? We took a peek over the fence (on Twitter)…
@SAFCKing: “Think I'd rather catch City cold like before Pep's had time to properly settle in.”
@JxrmainDefoe: “Going to have -6 goal difference after first game.”
@Capt_Fishpaste: “Hellish opener but overall it's a good fixture list for #SAFC. No run of games against the top sides. Opportunity to tick over all year.”
@WaiteJourno: “Nice easy start next season, few points on the board early doors, aye...”
@RokerPark1963: “Apparently we've never lost on the opening day to Man City #hope springs eternal”
4 The Run-in
As the old maxim goes: there are no easy games in the Premier League, but the Blues’ run-in could surely have been tougher.
Of the last seven games City must negotiate, only two are against teams which finished in the top half last season.
That said, one of those is current champions Leicester City who provide the opposition for our final game at the Etihad Stadium.
5 Christmas Crunch
City face all 19 teams twice, home and away through the course of the season – twas ever thus.
Ultimately, you can’t read too much into a fixture list as without the context provided by form, you can’t forecast which are the toughest fixtures so far out.
However, if you’re going off traditional forces, December looks like the crunch month for City with Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal and Liverpool providing the opposition for four of the six games.
Get through that month in good shape and the foundations may well be laid for a successful season.