The release of next season’s Premier League fixture list has brought about its yearly dose of ‘excitement’, with all 20 top-flight teams confirmed to play each other twice in 2015/16, home and away no less.
Jokes aside, the list isn’t good news for football fans buying shares in early-season joy on Merseyside, with Liverpool cruelly drawn away to Stoke, the scene of their 6-1 thrashing last time out, on the opening day of the campaign.
It gets a bit easier for Brendan Rodgers’ charges in their first home match, with newly-promoted Bournemouth set for an Anfield trip, but Arsenal at the Emirates and the visit of West Ham, who could be anything under new boss Slaven Bilic, completes their opening quartet of games.
Liverpool are currently 2/1 with bwin for a top-four finish next term, but with these four fixtures up first and Manchester United away next, the Reds seem certain to drift, so getting on prior to home clashes with Norwich and Aston Villa later in September could be profitable.
Their city neighbours Everton are in an even worse boat, with Watford at home on the opening day followed by Southampton (A), Manchester City (H), Tottenham (A), Chelsea (H) and Swansea (A).
Toffees chief Roberto Martinez looks a colossal price at an industry-best 16/1 to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job with bwin, who also have the top odds around on Rodgers to win next season’s sack race at 7/1.
As for who’ll be at English football’s summit by the end of August, an accolade eventual-champions Chelsea claimed from Swansea on goal difference in 2014/15, West Ham look an interesting prospect at 25/1.
New boss Slaven Bilic should have the Irons rocking by then, as their season starts sooner than any other Premier League side due to Europa League qualification through topping the Fair Play Table last term.
They face a tough start away to Arsenal on August 8th, but the Gunners have been far from infallible in home Premier League openers of late, going down 3-1 to Aston Villa at the start of the 2013/14 campaign and having to come from behind to beat Crystal Palace last season.
Bilic’s boys host Leicester and Bournemouth in their next two matches, before the trip to Anfield, so six points at worst from their first four fixtures is closer to probable than possible, while the top-flight’s big cheeses fight amongst themselves.
Chelsea visit Manchester City, Man Utd host Spurs and Arsenal take on Liverpool, all in the first three gameweeks, so there’s scope for West Ham to sneak up the rail while last season’s top six kick lumps out of each other.