If Tottenham’s players and manager Mauricio Pochettino were looking for a quiet start to the 2017-18 Premier League season after wrapping up a tough league campaign in May, they won’t find it on the fixture list released by the FA on Wednesday. Last season’s nearly men will trek to Tyneside for their opener on match day 1, and then immediately host the reigning champions Chelsea at Wembley in their first “home” game. I put that in quotations because Wembley has been anything but home for Spurs if last season is anything to go by, with the North Londoners struggling through pretty much every game they’ve had to play at England’s equivalent of the Big House*.
The good news for Spurs fans like myself? Outside of the opening two matches, the first couple months of the season are very, very manageable. Spurs will travel to Everton, West Ham, and Huddersfield in this time frame while hosting Burnley, Bournemouth, and Swansea City. Not exactly troublesome opposition, at least on paper. Late 2017 looks potentially sticky, though, with back-to-back matches against Liverpool and United closing out October and an away trip to the Emirates to face hated rivals Arsenal midway through November.
On the brighter side of things, the Christmas-to-New Year’s period looks significantly easier than last season’s: Burnley, Southampton, West Ham, and Swansea are all that stand in Spurs’ way between December 23rd and January 1st. The tail end of January into February, conversely, seems by far their most difficult patch of the entire season. During a two week stretch between January 31st and February 10th, Spurs must host United and Arsenal at Wembley while going on the road to face Liverpool at Anfield. If they can navigate that group of matches without dropping too many points, however, the rest of the season is very tame outside of a trip to Stamford Bridge on March 31st and a visit from City on April 14th.
So, what to make of Spurs’ schedule going into next season’s action? In all honesty, much of the interpretation as to how difficult a campaign it could be hinges on their performance in Europe. As noted above, Spurs’ two most challenging sets of league matches occur from late-October to mid-November and late-January to early-February. During the first of those periods in fall 2017, they’ll have a handful of Champions League Group stage matches to juggle either side of playing both Liverpool and United. Should they qualify for the knockout stages of Champions League play that begin in early 2018, the first of their two-legged home/away ties will come just days after they entertain Arsenal in the Prem.
Given the close schedule proximity of several European matches to some of their more important Premier League fixtures, Spurs will be leaning on the good judgment of manager Pochettino in selecting the best available team for each opponent. Fortunately, Poch can count on having strength in depth across a number of positions, which should make it relatively easy to field a side capable of winning each game. Off hand, the only positions I’d like to see reinforced with additional personnel over the summer are CB and ST, since the starters in both of these roles were among our most frequently-injured players last season.
You can check out the schedules for all Premier League clubs via the Telegraph here…
…and be sure to sound off in the comments below with your opinions on how Spurs and the other top 6 clubs could fare based on next season’s fixtures!
*For any non-American readers, the “Big House” is the nickname for college football giant Michigan’s home stadium, which can hold a capacity crowd of over 100,000.