Every team has to face each other twice over 38 games, but so often timing is key. Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton were three top teams to get off to bad starts last season.
Here are five clubs who face a tough task in their opening 10 games.
Newcastle got off to a flier last season, reaching November unbeaten, which set them up for an unexpected top five finish. Following it up will be tough, and they will want to avoid defeat and get off to an opening day win against Tottenham Hotspur, a side who pipped them to fourth last season. Next up? A trip to Stamford Bridge and two games later Goodison Park before the visit of Manchester United and the Tyne-Wear derby in early October. Their opening fixtures will be made harder by the fact they will be juggling Premier League football with Europa League football, a new experience for Alan Pardew. That combined with playmaker Yohan Cayaye needing a rest from Euro 2012 makes the start of the season more challenging than ever for the Magpies.
Tough does not do it justice. Southampton face Manchester City at the Etihad in the opening weekend in a real baptism of fire and return to Premier League life. They then face Manchester United and Arsenal before trips to Everton and a West Ham side keen to prove a point after being pipped by the Saints to automatic promotion last season. The end of October sees a trip to White Hart Lane and it is quite conceivable Southampton could be in the relegation zone by then. Of course Nigel Atkins side like to confound the doubters, few would have foreseen them winning promotion twice in a row. Nobody said fixtures at this level were easy, and the Saints will have to be on top form right from the off.
Brendan Rodgers sure has an interesting start to life at Liverpool. An away clash against former Reds assistant Steve Clarke kicks things off before successive home games against Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. They are difficult games, and Rodgers would surely prefer more time to hone his side's style of play before tackling the big boys. Still he knew what he signed up for, and Liverpool supporters will demand positive results. Games at home to Stoke and Reading present a different type of test, while the end of October is Rodgers' first Merseyside derby- away from home at Goodison Park. It sure promises to be a fascinating ride.
After an impressive return to the Premier League, Norwich have to start all over again under new manager Chris Hughton. Success could hinge on the opening game, away to Fulham who have an excellent home record. A second game at home to QPR is winnable, but September features games against Tottenham, Newcastle and Liverpool, with Chelsea and Arsenal right after that. There's a game against West Ham in there too, and the Canaries will need to get off to a good start otherwise they will be right in the relegation mix after 10 games.
An opening home game against Sunderland may look winnable enough, but it is after that where life gets trickier for Arsene Wenger's men. Their first 10 league games include away trips to Manchester City, Liverpool, and Manchester United, not to mention an away fixture with Stoke - a side who often get the better of them at the Britannia. There is a home game against Chelsea too to negotiate as well as a London derby away at Upton Park and if Arsenal are serious about a title challenge they will have to prove their credentials by winning on the road or left be playing catch-up all season.
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