Crystal Palace have not been treated kindly by the fixture computer
Crystal Palace have not been treated kindly by the fixture computer

Who has the hardest start to the Premier League season?

After the Premier League fixtures were released for the new season, we have put the opening six rounds of matches through our Infogol 'supercomputer' to calculate who has the hardest (and easiest) start to 2022/23.

Most of the attention on fixture announcement day has been on who is playing who over the opening weekend of August 5-7 - a weekend earlier than usual because of the 2022 winter World Cup in Qatar.

Among the standout fixtures are defending champions Manchester City's trip to West Ham, Erik ten Hag's start to life as Manchester United boss with a home game against Brighton and Chelsea legend Frank Lampard being rewarded for narrowly guiding Everton to safety by welcoming his former club to Goodison Park.

But for one of the Premier League new boys, the fixture computer has not been kind.

Premier League 2022-23 opening weekend fixtures

August 5

August 6

August 7

Fulham facing arduous task

  • Liverpool (H), Wolves (A), Brentford (H), Arsenal (A), Brighton (H), Tottenham (A)

Sky Bet Championship winners Fulham will host Liverpool at Saturday lunchtime on opening weekend, meaning an immediate return to Craven Cottage for Reds new boy Fabio Carvalho.

If that in itself wasn't hard enough, Marco Silva's side also face Brentford, Arsenal, Brighton and Tottenham in their opening six fixtures - all teams that finished in the top half of Infogol's performance-based table in 2021/22.

While our strength of schedule only covers the opening six fixtures, there is no let-up for the Cottagers immediately after that either. Game seven is Chelsea at home.

Premier League strength of schedule 2022/23

Palace put to the test

  • Arsenal (H), Liverpool (A), Villa (H), Man City (A), Brentford (H), Newcastle (A)

Fulham's start to the season looks painful, but Crystal Palace's is even harder according to our Infogol ratings.

Alongside obviously tough games against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City they face two of 2021/22's most-improved teams in Aston Villa and Newcastle, who enjoyed a seismic turnaround in the second half of the season under Eddie Howe.

Brentford, whose head coach Thomas Frank was named Infogol's manager of the season such was the level of the Bees' performance last term, complete their sequence.

How Manchester United start life under Ten Hag will determine whether there is any relenting in the fixture list when Palace host the Red Devils for game seven but a subsequent trip to Brighton followed by a home game with Chelsea means the Eagles really must continue the form shown in their excellent first campaign under Patrick Vieira.

Hammers hope for fast start

  • Man City (H), Forest (A), Brighton (H), Villa (A), Tottenham (H), Chelsea (A)

West Ham complete our trio of the sides with the hardest starts to the season, taking on Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and data darlings Brighton in their opening six matches.

They do face Nottingham Forest second up though, currently rated as the worst of the Premier League's 20 clubs - something that could change should the club make some impressive summer signings - but that game is away and will be the Tricky Trees' first top-flight home game for 23 years.

Another trip to the Midlands, to play Aston Villa, also looks daunting.

Good news for Hammers fans is that it does get easier from game seven onwards, with Newcastle, Everton, Wolves, Fulham, Southampton and Bournemouth to come among their following seven fixtures.

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When do Man City and Liverpool play each other?

Liverpool and Manchester City renew their rivalry at Anfield on October 15 – after midweek Champions League ties for both sides – with the return fixture scheduled for April 1.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to be impressed with their fixture allocation in conjunction with their European commitments.

Their three away matches following Champions League group games are Chelsea (September 17), Arsenal (October 8) and Tottenham (November 5).

In addition to their trip to Anfield, City’s post-European away games are Wolves (September 17) and Leicester (October 29), while they host Spurs on September 10.

When are the big derbies in the Premier League?

The Manchester derbies take place on October 1 (at the Etihad) and January 14 (Old Trafford), while for a third year in a row Everton host the first Merseyside derby of the season on September 3 with the return on February 11.

Arsenal host the first north London derby on October 1, with Tottenham’s home game against the Gunners on January 14.

How does the World Cup affect the Premier League fixtures?

The final weekend before the mid-season break for the World Cup in Qatar sees all the traditional ‘Big Six’ kept apart, however, with the most high-profile fixtures being Chelsea’s trip to Newcastle and Tottenham hosting Leeds.

When the campaign resumes on Boxing Day, Leeds host Manchester City and Manchester United welcome Nottingham Forest, with Newcastle fans faced with the longest journey of the day as they have a 376-mile round trip to Leicester.

Who plays who on the final day?

The final weekend of the season sees City head to Brentford, Liverpool away at Southampton, Tottenham visit Leeds and Chelsea host Newcastle.

All three promoted sides are away on the final day with Forest at Palace, Bournemouth at Everton – the ground where they were relegated to the Championship in 2020 despite a 3-1 victory – and Fulham travelling to Old Trafford.

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