The 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season’s fixture list was released yesterday, with some engrossing match-ups scheduled during the very early weeks of the campaign that begins on the 8th of August and culminates on May 15, 2016.
Manchester City, who finished second in the 2014/15 season, start off with an away game against West Bromwich Albion, just as they did during their title defence last term, when they began their campaign with an away clash against Newcastle United and won 2-0 against the then Alan Pardew’s side.
Going forward, do the league fixtures released by the Premier League favor Manuel Pellegrini’s men? What will be the crucial stages of City’s 2015/16 season, when they will be hoping to win back the trophy they lost to Chelsea this past May?
Manchester City League Fixtures 2015-16
City cannot afford to endure a poor start to their 2015/16 season, which sees them play Chelsea (at home) and Everton (away), following the opening day trip to the Hawthorns.
The Cityzens made a tenuous start to their title defence last term, garnering a mere 8 points from their first five league fixtures that saw them play Liverpool, Arsenal and Jose Mourinho’s side before the end of September. Pellegrini’s side took long to get their season back on track, and it was only after November, that they started picking up 3 points consistently and closed the gap between themselves and the Blues.
This season, the two fixtures against the current title holders and Toffees, in Matchweeks 2 and 3, respectively, will be a test of City’s credentials as a Championship winning side.
Mourinho’s side is always tough to beat because of the way they set-up against the fellow big boys, and that too while playing away from Stamford Bridge, however, the pressure will be on the 2013/14 English champions to go for three points and make their intentions of winning back the league title clear. Goodison Park has not been a happy-hunting ground for City over the years, though some would argue that the Sky Blues, under Pellegrini, haven’t lost at this venue. They would want that pattern to continue in the upcoming season, too.
Following those two defining league clashes, the Etihad outfit has the potential of picking up 9 points from their next three games against newly-promoted Watford (home), Crystal Palace (away) and West Ham United (home).
The Hammers have appointed a new head coach in Slaven Bilic, a manager who could pose a fresh tactical challenge to Pellegrini and company. Before this fixture, City will be involved in matchday one (September 15/16) of the group stages of the upcoming UEFA Champions League campaign, in which they hope to make massive strides.
Home game against West Ham in Matchweek 6 is followed by a trip to White Hart Lane to face Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur, who have lost each one of their league meeting against City during Pellegrini’s time in-charge of the club. Again, the visit of North London will be followed by matchday two (September 29/30) in the group stages of the Champions League, meaning City will need to be on their toes and rather consistent, if they are to enjoy a successful season.
The month of October sees City have the luxury of playing three home games against opponents – Magpies, and the newly promoted duo of AFC Bournemouth and Norwich City – who could be deemed beatable.
The first Manchester derby of the season, which will be played at Old Trafford, is sandwiched between City’s home meetings against the two newly promoted sides, and will be played during the weekend following matchday three (October 20/21) action in the Champions League. Manchester United defeated City by an overwhelming 4-2 margin in the corresponding fixture last season, but squandered the chance of finishing above their derby rivals on the league table. Louis van Gaal is determined to prove his worth by clinching some silverware this upcoming season and, as a result, will look to achieve the perfect result in this fixture, following which the league table will probably begin to take shape.
November fixtures for City could be tough, depending on their opponents’ form at the time. They first have to take care of Champions League business on matchday four (November 3/4) before facing Aston Villa away from home in Matchweek 12 of the 2015/16 Premier League season. Home games against Liverpool and Southampton will present a formidable challenge for the Cityzens, who will hope to be at the top of their game when this stage of the season rolls along. City will also be involved in matchday five (November 24/25) of the Champions League before taking on Ronald Koeman’s side at the Etihad, on the 28th of November.
The 2011 FA Cup winners have a relatively easy fixture list to look after during December, which has been a favorable month – winning 13 of the 15 games, and drawing the other two, in all competitions – for them during the last two seasons.
They start off their December venture with a trip to the Britannia Stadium to face Mark Hughes’ Stoke City that has enjoyed two excellent seasons back-to-back. The remaining league games against Swansea City (home), Arsenal (away), Sunderland (home) and Leicester City (away) complete City’s first round of 2015/16 Premier League fixtures. There is also the small matter of matchday six (December 8/9) action in the Champions League, by when, hopefully, City would have booked their place in the R-16 stage of this competition for the third consecutive season.
City will have more of a favorable set of fixtures to look forward to once 2015 makes way for the birth of 2016. The second Manchester derby of the season is scheduled to be played on the 19th of March at the Etihad, and the Sky Blues do not have many tough fixtures – excluding those against Everton (at home on 14th January, 2016 ), Spurs (at home on 13th February, 2016) and the Reds (away on 2nd March, 2016 ) maybe – before facing the van ‘Gaalacticos’. City could find themselves in a very good position by the time they face the Red Devils, who are billed to be one of next season’s title contenders, if they negotiate the period before the second Manchester derby carefully and win the games they are expected to.
The Cityzens face the two London heavyweights – Chelsea (away on 16th April, 2016) and Arsenal (at home on 7th May, 2016) – towards the end of their campaign (on Matchweeks 34 and 37, respectively), which could be crunch games if they do not play well during the period between the 2nd of January and the second derby clash on March 19th.
City’s Premier League campaign comes to an end with a trip to the Liberty Stadium where, again, they have not lost in each of their last two visits to the venue.
Looking at the way City’s fixtures are scheduled, the onus will be on Pellegrini’s men to be consistent and not drop points against the mid and lower-mid table sides. They, as aforementioned, can ill afford to start their season like they did last time around, and instead, got to be up and running once the season gets underway. I know that it is easier said than done, but the nature of City’s fixtures is such that if they play their best football and register wins against the fellow big boys early on in the season, they could probably do what Chelsea did last season – win the title in a canter.