The Premier League fixtures are out for the 2017-18 season — and here are five to watch for Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho’s team have been handed a relatively kind start, with games against West Ham and Leicester at Old Trafford either side of a trip to Swansea.
The run-in is trickier, with a trip to the Etihad to play Manchester City and a home game with Arsenal in the final weeks of the season.
(H) Aug. 12, 2017
(A) March 17, 2018
United’s game with West Ham at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season will be important for Mourinho’s team, and not just because it’s vital to get off to a good start. It will also be the first opportunity to see if Mourinho has solved United’s key problem from last season — scoring enough goals to turn home draws into home wins. United drew 10 league games at Old Trafford last season and it cost them a tilt at the title. West Ham were one of the teams that came away with a point and Mourinho will not want it to happen again, especially so early. Mourinho will, though, be grateful of a home game on the opening day with the Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia scheduled for Aug. 8.
(A) Oct. 10, 2017
(H) March 10, 2018
Liverpool at Anfield is always a big game for United, but this one will be particularly significant. One of the criticisms aimed at United last season was their away record at the top sides. They were beaten heavily at Chelsea, lost to Tottenham and Arsenal and drew with Liverpool and Manchester City. In total, they took two points from a possible 15 and scored just one goal. If United are going to challenge for the title this season, that will have to improve. An early victory at another of the top six sides would be a statement of intent.
(H) Dec. 9, 2017
(A) April. 7, 2018
The Manchester derbies were meant to decide last season’s Premier League — but it didn’t work out like that. Both teams were off the pace in the league and Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will want to change that this time. After a quiet season in Manchester, the sting has been taken out of the Mourinho vs. Guardiola rivalry. But it could return if both are challenging for the title. The April meeting at the Etihad could be pivotal, coming just a couple of weeks before the end of the season. Both teams will hope that, by that stage, it still means something. United’s season ends with a home game against Watford on May 13.
(A) Nov. 4, 2017
(H) Feb. 24, 2018
Chelsea ran away with the title last season and United’s meeting with Antonio Conte’s side at Stamford Bridge in November should be a good indicator of where they are. They were thrashed 4-0 at Chelsea last season, as it became apparent they were not ready to mount a credible challenge in the league. Mourinho insists Chelsea’s defence will be different with Champions League football to contend with, as well. The bulk of his squad should at least be prepared for the demands of fighting on more than one front after a marathon 64-match season last term.
(H) Sept. 16, 2017
(A) Jan. 1, 2018
United are back in the Champions League after winning the Europa League. They will find out their opponents at the group stage draw on Aug. 24 with the first game scheduled for either Sept. 12 or 13. Their first group stage game will be sandwiched between a trip to Stoke on Sept. 9 and Everton’s visit to Old Trafford on Sept. 16. It will be the first chance to see if Mourinho’s squad is capable of coping with the demands of three tough games in a week. The return game against Everton is pencilled in for New Year’s Day, two days after Southampton visit Old Trafford. United also face a trip to Leicester on Dec. 23 and Burnley at home on Boxing Day.
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