10 Key Fixtures for Manchester City in the 2014/15 Season
The excitement of this summer's World Cup was temporarily put to one side today as the fixtures for the next Premier League season were announced. It's a day every fan of English football looks forward to.
Some argue the release of the fixture list is inconsequential, that every team plays each other twice and the order doesn't matter. However, it's clear tough runs of fixtures, difficult starts and the type of run in a team faces matter hugely.
Manchester City will be desperate to defend their crown, beginning with an opening-day trip to Newcastle, the side they beat in their first match last season at the Etihad. But which other fixtures will define City's season? Here are 10 key matches they face in the 2014/15 campaign.
August 23—Liverpool (H)
Six days after their Community Shield fixture with FA Cup winners Arsenal at Wembley, City travel to Newcastle for their opening-day fixture. Their recent record at St James' is excellent, having won their last five in all competitions there.
It's their first home fixture which looks more daunting. They face last season's runners-up Liverpool, a side full of quality, and one buoyed by their excellent 2013/14.
In the same fixture last season, City came out on top 2-1, despite Liverpool impressing for much of the game. It's a tough early-season test for the Blues.
September 13—Arsenal (A)
And City's start doesn't get any easier, with a trip to the Emirates to play Arsenal coming in early September. City drew 1-1 there last year in a result which threatened their title chances, and Manuel Pellegrini will be looking for an improvement this time round.
City dominated the first half, with David Silva typically brilliant in his No.10 role, drifting effortlessly around the pitch dictating play. However, Arsenal rallied in the second half and City were fortunate in the end to escape with a point.
September 20—Chelsea (H)
Just seven days later, City welcome Chelsea to the Etihad, keen to avenge last season's defeat to Jose Mourinho's men.
That match was defined by Mourinho's tactics, outwitting Pellegrini as his side won the midfield battle comfortably. It was a result which saw City's performance level decline for the next few months after a run of 20 games without defeat.
Having signed Cesc Fabregas, and with the imminent arrival of Diego Costa, it's arguable Chelsea will start the season as favourites for the title. This is a huge early test for City
Manchester United (H)
November 1—Manchester United (H)
On November 1, City will host their rivals Manchester United in the first Manchester Derby of the Louis van Gaal era. It's a match every City fan looks for when the fixture list is released.
Last season, City won comfortably, outmaneuvering United in every department before going on to win 4-1. It was the first real blow dealt to David Moyes as United manager, a blow he never really recovered from.
December 3—Sunderland (A)
For most clubs vying for the title, Sunderland away wouldn't rank as a key fixture, but for City, who have lost their last four visits to the Stadium of Light 1-0, it's become a match they need to win in order to bury their strange hoodoo.
They beat Sunderland in the League Cup final at Wembley in March, but struggled against them again in the league at the Etihad later in the season.
City fans will be desperate for a win in the match at the Stadium of Light on December 3 or they can be forgiven for never making the trip north again.
January 10—Everton (A)
Last season's vital win at Everton, which almost guaranteed City's title success, was a rarity. Goodison Park is bogey ground for City—they had lost on their previous four visits—and this season their game there signals a run of three tough January fixtures.
January 17—Arsenal (H)
A week after their trip to Everton, City welcome Arsenal for their second of three difficult fixtures at the turn of the year.
Last season's reverse fixture was a thriller—a 6-3 win for City in a match full of quality. Both sides looked capable of scoring at will, and it made for one of the most entertaining games in Premier League history.
January 31—Chelsea (A)
Last season's defeat at Stamford Bridge was one of City's most disappointing of the season. For much of the game, they were comfortable, and Sergio Aguero's superb strike appeared to have landed them a well-earned point, only for a mix-up between Matija Nastasic and Joe Hart gifting Fernando Torres a winner.
It looks set to be a tough January for City.
February 15—Liverpool (A)
Another one of last season's thrillers. City went to Liverpool with the destiny of the title in their own hands, but left having surrendered it to the Merseysiders who looked increasingly likely to win the title.
A quick start saw Liverpool race to a 2-0 lead, but Silva's second-half super-show got City back level. However, Vincent Kompany's howler allowed Philippe Coutinho the chance to hit the winner.
Liverpool tasted a title race again last season, and Brendan Rodgers will be doing everything he can to push his side over the line as champions this time around. This match at Anfield looks set to be a big one once more.
Manchester United (A)
April 11—Manchester United (A)
City's match against United at Old Trafford in April signals the start of a favourable run in, with only Tottenham from last season's top seven left to play after the derby.
Last season, of course, City swept United aside 3-0 in this fixture, but under Van Gaal one expects it to be a much tougher game this time around.