Ah, there’s nothing quite like fixture release day. Or, if you work for the BBC, Fixture Release Day. Or, if you work for Sky, FIXTURE RELEASE DAY LIVE.
It’s a bit like Christmas, except instead of presents you get to tear hungrily into finding out when we’re gonna get twatted away to Norwich, as is Everton custom. And yet there’s that new-season optimism that comes with it, picking out the run of games that could make us or break us, finding the month where we could plunder maximum points (if we weren’t Everton, that is), seeing who we’ve got first, last and on Boxing Day. Of course, if you looked up any of those things before finding out the derby dates, you’re a massive wool.
That was a while ago now, and they’re more than just words on a page. The new season is finally here. There’s a tinge of excitement that we really shouldn’t have given what we witnessed in 2014/15. It’s all back: the big Goodison showdowns and the magical aways where someone will make up rumours of the Everton Stab Squad going on their rounds. Perhaps even circling potential Wembley dates….well, maybe not. Don’t see #GetOsmanToWembley working so well.
For your pleasure, I’ve gone through all 38 Premier League fixtures on a month-by-month basis, with my perceived game of the month framed in a nice photograph. How nice. We’ll have a close look at why our run-in is better than our kick-off, why November will be a big relief after October, and why we could have a hand in sending three teams down.
So let’s dive right in. It’s all down to conjecture really – some will see the fixtures as a reason to be fearful, some will be raring to go. And that’s just our back four’s reaction. You may be buzzing or shitting it. Off we go…
Watford (home) – You’d think this would be a nice opening day fixture for us, but we’re Everton Aren’t We Our past two opening day fixtures have seen us play Norwich and Leicester – both took away 2-2 draws. Yet a home tie against a Watford side who have not yet convinced anyone of their Premier League credentials seems decent enough. Everton opened the 2006/7 season at home to the Hornets, with Andy Johnson scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win. I remember it well, and I apologise to the man in the Bullens that I had to climb over to prevent missing the goal because of the restricted view. Goodison that.
Southampton (away) – Our first away trip is to St Mary’s, and it would be difficult to top the two abject performances that marked our last visits to the South Coast. 2013/14 saw the own-goal show that sunk us 2-0, while last season the Saints kicked off our winter of discontent by stuffing us 3-0. Ending runs like this would be a good sign of our intentions for the coming season. But Southampton have a strong squad, and are reinforcing it with a lot of European talent. The new boys will not be blooded by this point, and who knows how many of their current squad will have been flogged to Liverpool by August? It may well be the best time to play them.
Tottenham (away) – Again, not exactly the source of many points for us at the moment. In the past four meetings we have picked up one point and scored one goal – and that one came in a 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane. Even Roberto Soldado scored against us, he of the banjo-cow’s arse calibration woe. White Hart Lane isn’t a fun place to go, not least because it reeks of doom. Another tough away day at the start of the season.
Swansea (away): We’ve still never lost a league game against Swansea, but a pair of draws last season was far from impressive. A 1-1 stalemate at the Liberty Stadium meant little as neither side cared at that point. Given the start we have, we’ll care a hell of a lot more now.
West Brom (away): A 2-0 win over the Baggies at the Hawthorns was meant to be last season’s kick-starter, but it never happened. Tony Pulis will look to make West Brom’s home a fortress, and a 3-0 win against Chelsea at the end of last season was a sign of that. Not an easy place to go but they’re still the weakest team we face in the first two months, bar Watford. It should be won.
Man Utd (home) – That’s four titanic Goodison clashes in a row. Sorry Watford. Manchester United come to L4 still reeling from the 3-0 thumping dished out to them in April, but Louis van Gaal has plugged some major gaps since then. Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin are a much scarier prospect than Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, but United have lost centre forwards rather than adding them. So Wayne Rooney will be back. You gonna give him a standing ovation again? Don’t be a wool. Let’s smash these Everton.
Arsenal (away) – This is going to be a fun month, isn’t it? The last match in October will see us go to a stadium we’ve never won at before. The Emirates is shite anyway isn’t it, all those…cushy seats and that. Arsenal will be gunning for the title this year and have added the indomitable Petr Cech, so they’ll be tough to crack. Our only hope is that we catch them during one of those shite streaks they have every now and again. Any chance? Set Deulofeu on them again, see what happens.
Sunderland (home) – Ah, that’s better…no, wait, it’s worse. We can understand getting beat by the league’s bigger teams, but we’ve lost successive home games against Sunderland without scoring and that’s just weird. They will be in and around the relegation zone as always, but this time they won’t have the desperation of needing points to avoid the imminent threat of the drop at this point. We’ll have to capitalise.
West Ham (away) – We always beat West Ham, right? Long may it continue. They reckon they’re a big deal now, which is why they ditched Sam Allardyce in favour of Slaven Bilic, but the pressure on Bilic to succeed after heavy spending will be palpable. We beat them 2-1 at Upton Park last season, with goals from Osman and Lukaku – who else? This will be our final league trip to the Boleyn Ground, as the twats tend to call Upton Park, and it would be fitting to beat them. Make it so Everton.
Aston Villa (home) – We tend to score plenty at home to Villa: last season it was a 3-0 thumping, the season before a 2-1 win, and a 3-3 thriller before that. Given Tim Sherwood’s tendency to be a bit cavalier that should continue into this season. If we want to go on a run of good results, this lot need to be put to bed, and comfortably too. Go ‘ed Cleverley, you know you want to.
Crystal Palace (home) – What is our deal with this lot? Two 2-3 home defeats in a row against a very ordinary Crystal Palace side…it’s just not funny any more. Now that Alan Pardew is at the helm it’s absolutely necessary to put these melts firmly in their place. Fans have big aspirations but they may have been tempered by the time the Eagles arrive at Goodison in December. Beating them might be vital to keeping a run of home form going.
Norwich (away) – For some reason we’re seriously shite away at Norwich, and it’s not just because the absence of intelligent life is seriously eerie. We haven’t won at Carrow Road since October 2004, when Duncan Ferguson scored the winner. You may remember the 2-1 defeat to Norwich in February 2013 as it was the most David Moyes performance ever seen. 1-0 up, unable to put the game to bed, striker goes off for a defender with 15 minutes left, still 1-0 up with two minutes left…yeah, you remember. It’s time to put the Canaries in their place.
Leicester (home) – Esteban Cambiasso ran the show as, inexplicably, Leicester drew 2-2 with Everton at Goodison Park on their way to securing Premier League survival last season. We were only saved by a Matt Upson own goal as well, just to rub it in. A mixture of the loss of Cambiasso and second season syndrome should see Leicester down the bottom again this December. You don’t get many dead certs in the Premier League, but like the QPR game a year prior to this fixture, it’s as close to one as you can get. Don’t mess it up again Everton.
Stoke (home) – After they blagged the scruffiest of 1-0 wins at Goodison last season, we owe this lot one. They’re the jarg hipster football club choice du jour, which is such a surreal position to be in. Sweeping up Barcelona rejects is not the path to glory though (shhh, pipe down there Gerard) and a repeat of the 4-0 hiding in 2013 would be nice. Oviedo baby. December is packed with games, none particularly tough, but few particularly easy. We have to do better than last Christmas, that’s for sure. Into the New Year then…
Man City (away) – We used to be alright at winning at the Etihad, but it’s been a while now. Last season we lost 1-0 with A TOTAL BULLSHIT PENALTY AND THEY SHOULD’VE HAD TWO SENT OFF AND WE SHOULD’VE-nah, they’re better than us now. Way of the world. But this is in the part of the season where they have that “HUGE” wobble where they drop a couple of points and the world is ending. We could be that team! How exciting. But no, it would be nice to get more.
Chelsea (away) – Oh, this is gonna be a fun month. We go to Stamford Bridge, where we haven’t won since…the dawn of time or something, when Dave Hickson was a little lad, or yer da thought Danny Cadamarteri was going to be the next big thing, or something. The past two visits have been identical: two battling, determined performances, where we’ve had chances to win the game but been hit hard by a late winner. Seems to be the Everton way at the moment, the repeat performances. Not again. Please.
Swansea (home) – Swansea have never won at Goodison Park, ever. Good that, right? If only we hadn’t let them grind out a couple of awful 0-0 draws in the past three years. Last season we let them do it with ten men as they put Jonjo Shelvey in the starting line-up. And then they did it with ten men when Jonjo Shelvey was sent off. Given this comes after trips to the Etihad and Stamford Bridge, plus whatever the FA Cup third round throws up, we’ll need to win this one.
Newcastle (home) – Newcastle don’t like coming to Goodison much, which would explain why they never bring many away fans…right? Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, we trashed this lot 3-0 at Goodison Park in March, but it’s unlikely to be that easy this time around. Unless Steve McClaren really, really fucks it up. Wouldn’t that be a crying shame. Yeah…
Stoke (away) – Nobody likes going to Stoke. Why’s that, you say? Because it’s a shithole? Well, really it’s because they like to make the Britannia Stadium a fortress and the fans egg them on in that rabid, not-really-sure-what’s-going-on-but-they’re-irrationally-angry-anyway style. Plus, it’s a shithole. We lost 2-0 at their place last season, and they totally deserved it, because we were diabolical. It takes a lot of grit and determination to win at Stoke, and we’ll need to be in the right frame of mind for it. This is one of those games where the few matches previous to it actually have an impact on the outcome. We better be in decent form.
West Brom (home) – In Roberto Martinez’s time at Everton, we’ve played West Brom twice at Goodison Park and drawn 0-0 both times. That’s genuinely terrible. They are a side who set up to defend away at teams they know are technically better than them, and so it is vital to be direct. Mix it up, as they say in that way they think is original but is in fact a horrible cliche. A mediocre team coming to Goodison should be a blessing, so there’s no reason to treat it like a curse.
Aston Villa (away) – We normally do alright at Villa Park, but the journey to the Midlands last season came during a poor patch. That “poor patch” being the entire season. Benteke bullied us, and even Tom Cleverley scored. Imagine. Cleverley, the piece of-no, hang on, he’s ours now isn’t he? Lad’s the new Beckham, or something. We’ll face a much different team in March. It will be interesting to see how they play if they’re not being haunted by the spectre of relegation at this point.
West Ham (home) – We have beaten West Ham more than any other club in Premier League history (forget all that pre-1992 shite, that wasn’t football). The Hammers were dispatched 2-1 at Goodison in the league last time out, with the goals coming from Leon Osman and….Romelu Lukaku. This isn’t a copy-and-paste job, honest. We seriously did that home and away. More of the same please Everton.
Sunderland (away) – Here are the previous few results between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light: 1-1, 0-1, 1-0, 0-2, 1-1, 2-2, 1-1, 0-2, 0-1, 0-1, 0-1. Get the picture? It’s normally close, but we do just about have the edge over the Mackems. We normally take a great following up to the North East, and if Dick Advocaat’s side are in a relegation battle the home crowd may be on the team’s back. Making the Stadium of Light a home away from home usually spurs us on. But don’t say “Spurs” too loudly…
Watford (away) – It will be getting to that point in the season where Watford fans will have a very good idea where their team will end up. More likely than not they’ll be looking up away trips to Bolton and Leeds, because unless 99% of all pre-season predictions are wrong they’ll be going down. If they do particularly badly, we could send them down with five games left to go. How fun would that be?
Southampton (home) – We overcame Southampton 1-0 in April, with Phil Jagielka scoring the only goal. The match was named as one of the Premier League’s most boring in 2014/15, but who’s arsed? We won it. Southampton don’t have the best record at Goodison Park and if we’re still in with a shout of a decent finish at this stage they’ll need to be dealt with as they should be in and around the top eight.
Crystal Palace (away) – A Romelu Lukaku goal handed Alan Pardew his first defeat as Crystal Palace boss, which was damn sweet. It would be nice to do it again. This won’t be like headier days such as 2004/05, when we could rock up at Selhurst Park and annihilate Palace. It’s a tough place to go, with a resolute side and partizan home fans awaiting us. However, the demands of the home crowd means Palace won’t be able to sit back, and we’ll be able to take advantage of it.
Bournemouth (home) – Could we have a hand in sending three teams down? We’ll get onto Leicester and Norwich soon, but Bournemouth could be in and around the relegation zone. Or perhaps they’ll be nowhere near. They won’t relish a trip to Goodison Park in either case, and we’ll want to pick up three points in what looks like a pretty kind run-in.
Leicester (away) – The first away day of the 2014/15 season is the final one of the 2015/16 season, and it better be more enjoyable than the 2-2 draw that set the tone for the last campaign. Aiden McGeady scored a beauty in that one. Aiden. McGeady. Leicester are widely expected to drop, and we could push them over the edge, particularly if we haven’t done the same to Watford or Bournemouth already.
And that’s your lot. Feel free to use this as a calendar as you make your way through the season, a great way to mock me viciously when we fuck it all up, some reading to get your blood pumping, or even as a distraction from some awful non-Everton stuff you might be doing. Frankly, if you’re reading this and you haven’t just scrolled to the bottom to see if it gets interesting (it doesn’t), then kudos. I’m speaking with the entire season ahead of me, so I can say bring it all on, Everton. If you’re reading this in May 2016, then go easy on me, I had to be optimistic. You don’t know what these demanding fuckers can do to a writer with no talent and no pay.
That’s the fun of it. I just don’t know. And you read this, you absolute sucker. Up the Toffees.