Many pundits and fans alike were somewhat taken aback when this season’s premier league fixtures were released in the summer. The selection system which arranges all the Barclays Premier League fixtures for Manchester United and all the other teams in the league usually gives the top clubs and easy introduction to the season with fixtures becoming increasingly difficult as the matches progress and the teams become more settled. Not this year however.
Defending champions Manchester United were shocked to find that they played all five title rivals in the first 10 matches. Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City would all be faced before November and as a consequence, all thoughts of an easy welcome to the new season were thrown out of the window. But such has been Man United’s preseason preparation that they were able to win three of these 5 matches, drawing one versus Liverpool before losing heavily to Man City. At present the Red Devils find themselves in second place in the table, five points below Manchester City. But with City yet to play Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea there is a strong belief that Man United will return to the top of the table sooner rather than later.
There is a long stretch of easy fixtures on the horizon for Man United while Man City’s fixtures only get more and more challenging. With most of the remaining title contenders yet to face each other, Man United can relax and bit and wait patiently for sparks to ply and points to drop. Injuries have also begun affecting the Red Devils though Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have coped admirably and have used their squad to the full. Arsenal have also been hampered a bit by injury but high flying Man City has this inevitable obstacle yet to come. It will be interesting to see how they deal with such problems, especially if the transfer window is not open at the time. It has been an exciting beginning to the Barclays Premier League race this season. With no less than seven teams vying for the title and Champions League places, including surprise package Newcastle, each weekend will feel like a cup tie. No one can afford to lose their fixtures, but of course, come May there can only be one winner.