Premier League Fixture List: 20 Games to Decide the Title in 2012-13

Willie GannonSenior Writer IJune 19, 2012

Premier League Fixture List: 20 Games to Decide the Title in 2012-13

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    The Barclays Premier League have released the fixture list for the forthcoming 2012-13 season and fans are already salivating at the prospect of a number of high-profile matches in the opening weeks.

    From the outset, it looks as if the title race will, once again, be fought between Manchester United and Manchester City, while Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will compete for the coveted Champions League positions.

    Defending champions and early title favourites, Manchester City have a nicely spread fixture list, but that could easily change when UEFA announces the Champions League groups on August 30. While Manchester United, their chief rivals, has a fixture list severely complicated by the Champions League draw before it even happens.

    The Red Devils also face two tricky periods where they face both Arsenal and Chelsea back to back. Once in November and then again at the end of April, just three weeks after they face Manchester City, in what already looks to be a title-decider.

    Liverpool FC, in a period of rebuilding, face what looks on paper to be the toughest opening fixture list. They play ex-first team assistant manager Steve Clarke and West Brom in Game 1 before facing Sunderland, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in what should be a baptism of fire for new coach Brendan Rodgers.

    Along with Roberto Mancini, Arsene Wenger will be quite happy with the way the computer has generated Arsenal's fixtures. They have one real bad patch in January where the games come hot and heavy, but on either side of that they have a set-up that could guarantee Champions League football again in 2013-14.

    Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur make up the running as far as potential champions are concerned. The Blues have a really tough list before Christmas, where they face Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester City over an eight-week period that will push Roberto Di Matteo to his limits.

    The managerless Spurs have a decent run of fixtures, but the proof of the pudding will be how the North London side deal with the big teams in the Premier League. This will, once again, decide their fate regardless of who takes over.

    With each of the runners and riders named, here we look at 20 key fixtures that will shape the title race in 2012-13.

    Read on, and be sure to leave your top matches and predictions in the comments below.

Liverpool vs. Manchester City (August 25)

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    The first big game of the season comes on August 25, in Gameday 2.

    Roberto Mancini will take his title holders to Anfield for the Reds' first home game of the season. It will also be Brendan Rodgers' first time to appear in front of the Kop in real competition.

    City will be looking to state their intention, so it will be a baptism of fire for the new Liverpool manager, who will really just get his feet under the table.

    Prediction: Away win.

Liverpool vs. Manchester United (September 22)

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    Considering the rich and varied past these two clubs have together, this game could prove to be pivotal for a number of reasons.

    It comes early in the season, Gameday 5, just three weeks after Manchester City's visit to Anfield and will be Brendan Rodgers' fifth tough game in a row.

    Realistically, United will be looking to match or better their title rivals' result. If they do, Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool could find them selves on the wrong end of the club's worst start to a league campaign in decades.

    Prediction: Away win.

Manchster City vs. Arsenal (September 22)

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    Gameday 5 throws up two huge games that will probably end up becoming the first Seismic Sunday in the Premier League next season.

    As United travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool, City will entertain Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in what will be a huge clash for both clubs.

    One other reason this game is so important is that it comes just days after both clubs debut in the group stages of the Champions League. How City deal with that added pressure will determine their title credentials.

    Prediction: Home win.

Arsenal vs. Chelsea (September 29)

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    One week after travelling to Etihad, the Gunners will entertain Chelsea at the Emirates.

    Last season the two clubs played out a highly entertaining 5-3, where the home crowd left happy.

    As a fixture, it comes at the wrong time for Roberto Di Matteo because over the following eight weeks they must play Spurs, United, City, Liverpool and the already-named Arsenal. While all of this is going on, they must also contend with the Champions League in full flow and the League Cup.

    In short, the honeymoon could be well and truly over for Di Matteo by Christmas.

    Prediction: Draw.

Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur (September 29)

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    Old Trafford has always been a hard place for Spurs to go, regardless of who was in charge.

    Harry Redknapp found it impossible to change that attitude at White Hart Lane and eventually paid the price for it with his job.

    It will take more than pop-psychology for Spurs to beat Sir Alex Ferguson and co. and this game will be the first time real questions are asked of the new manager and his team.

    Prediction: Home win.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea (October 20)

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    Saturday, October 20 is the day Tottenham Hotspur get to face the team who did more damage to their season last year than any other.

    The Blues hammered Spurs 5-1 at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-finals and then pipped them to playing in the Champions League by beating Bayern Munich to win the competition in May.

    So Spurs will be out for revenge.

    As stated before, the game comes at the right time for Spurs but the wrong time for Chelsea.

    Will Spurs find it in their power to get revenge?

    Prediction: Draw.

Southampton vs. Tottenham Hostpur (October 27)

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    As far as title contenders are concerned, Spurs are not really in with a shout. They are outside bets at best, at 25-1.

    But mark today in your calender, because today is the day their official bid crashes and burns.

    Nigel Adkins' team are a decent side and Spurs will be coming off the back of an energy-sapping encounter with Chelsea.

    Prediction: Home win.

Manchester United vs. Arsenal (November 3)

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    Will Arsenal ever live down the 8-2 mauling they received at Old Trafford last season? November 3 gives them a chance to set the story straight.

    The Champions League will have a large effect on this game, as it comes three days before UCL Gameday 4. So depending upon their Champions League group place, each manager may choose to rest certain players.

    However, when push comes to shove, Sir Alex Ferguson is not likely to rest players for this game. Given the result last year, will Arsene?

    Prediction: Home win.

West Ham United vs. Chelsea (December 1)

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    Just as Southampton will end Spurs' title bid, West Ham are more than capable of doing the same to Chelsea.

    This game comes at the end of a horrific run of fixtures for Roberto Di Matteo and co. and could not only end in defeat but also result in the Italians being sacked.

    Prediction: Home win.

Manchester City vs. Manchester United (December 8)

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    If Spurs are out for revenge against Chelsea, just imagine how United feel about City.

    Last season, City beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford and then beat them 1-0 at the Etihad to put one hand on the title.

    Mancini's side will undoubtedly improve during the summer, so United are playing catch-up regardless of who they sign.

    It will be an epic battle and could bring an early Christmas present to one side of Manchester.

    Prediction: Home win.

Manchester United vs. Newcastle United (December 26)

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    On January 4 last year Alan Pardew led Newcastle to a memorable 3-0 win over United, as Demba Ba literally ran amok against the former Champions.

    This season, almost one year to the day, they return to the scene of their most famous crime in a bid to repeat the heist.

    However, this time they will not be underestimated.

    Prediction: Home win.

Everton vs Chelsea (December 29)

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    The ever-difficult Everton entertain Chelsea over a tough Christmas fixure list for both sides. This game will be ultra-imoprtant for both sides as they set their stalls out for 2013.

    If the Toffees win, they could challenge for the Champions League places and deny Chelsea a spot in the top four.

    A huge game for both clubs.

    Prediction: Home win.

Chelsea vs. Arsenal (January 19)

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    This game is always huge.

    But this time it will be massive.

    Chelsea's season should have been derailed before they face Arsenal, and the Gunners' own title bid will be dependent upon getting all three points. It is a clash that will mean everything for the two clubs involved.

    Prediction: Draw.

Sunderland vs. Arsenal (February 9)

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    There are few grounds in the Premier League that are as intimidating as the Stadium of Light in full flight.

    Score an early goal and you have a great chance of taking all three points. Lose an early goal and the fan factor doubles.

    It will be around this time of the season that Arsenal's title bid will come undone, and there is no better place to end it.

    Prediction: Home win.

Manchester United vs. Manchester City (April 6)

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    Almost one year to the day of winning 1-0 at the Etihad, Manchester City must travel to Old Trafford as they bid to win the league the hard way.

    United will be in full swing as the Citizens roll into town, and only one thing is guaranteed: fireworks.

    A sure-fire title decider.

    Prediction: Draw.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur (April 13)

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    By this stage both teams will be out of title contention, but this fixture will still have a huge impact upon the destination of the Premier League trophy.

    With their eyes on finishing in the top four, and with chances getting less and less by the day, expect Chelsea and Spurs to go at it hammer and tongs and to knock seven shades of blue out of each other.

    Prediction: Home win.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City (April 20)

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    Having expended so much energy against Chelsea the week before, the last team Spurs will want to face is Manchester City. But that is exactly who they play on April 20.

    With the title in their sight, Roberto Mancini's team will be in no mood for sympathy. Look for them to roll over a Spurs team who will be a spent force from the Chelsea game.

    Prediction: Away win.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United (April 27)

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    With one Manchester team having beaten a North London team the week previous, the other Manchester side heads to the same district to complete the double a week later!

    Arsenal will be reeling, having had their title bid ended and their Champions League aspirations quashed for another year, while United, still in the title hunt but not the Champions League hunt, will bid to keep the pressure on their city rivals.

    These two teams are always entertaining to watch, but when there is something at stake they are unmissable.

    Prediction: Home win.

Manchester United vs. Chelsea (May 4)

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    This is the last real tough fixture Manchester United face. It comes one week after they travel to the Emirates and just over four weeks from when they entertained City at Old Trafford.

    Between April and May, United face a horrible fixture pile-up that will only be made bearable by being knocked out of cup competitions.

    In the end, it may prove just too much for Sir Alex Ferguson and his team.

    Prediction: Home win.

Reading vs Manchester City (May 12)

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    The penultimate game of the season for Manchester City sees them travel to Madejski Stadium.

    This is where City should win the title, and they might just relegate Reading into the bargain.

    Prediction: Away win.

League Table Predictions

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    1. Manchester City (Champions)

    2. Manchester United

    3. Arsenal

    4. Tottenham Hotspur

    5. Chelsea

     

    R. Reading

    R. Norwich

    R. Southampton