The Premier League fixtures for the 2019/20 season get announced today, and it is usually a moment of excitement for players and fans; as we get to see when the club plays hosts to the biggest sides in the country and when our rivals are coming to town.
Last season, five of the top-flight’s big hitters came to Tyneside inside our opening ten rounds of fixtures, with only the would-be runners up Liverpool managing to avoid a trip to St James’ Park while the season began to shake off the summer cobwebs.
Sadly, the tough opening run and the lack of form which came with it meant it was not until November before Rafa Benitez managed to orchestrate a winning performance – coming in a narrow 1-0 win against Watford, who would go on to challenge for Europa League qualification.
We, on the other hand, went on to finish the season in 13th with just one more point on the board than the previous campaign, and will be hoping for better things come August and beyond.
Today, though, the focus will be on the opening ten fixtures, and hoping they do not pose as much competition as a year ago, so Benitez – or whoever is in the dugout – can form an early base that will be built on.
Newcastle defender Paul Dummett certainly feels as much, having told the club’s official website: “I think everyone looks out for the fixtures. You want to know who your first game of the season is against – I think that’s the first one you look out for.
“You have that break, and then you come back for pre-season excited and ready for the first game of the season, so you always look out for that first game. Hopefully it’s a home game, in front of our fans, and we can get off to a good start.
“Last season we had a really tough start, so we’ll be hoping this season that we don’t start off the same way. Every game’s going to be hard, and it’s never going to be an easy start no matter who we play, but we just need to aim not to start like we did last season.”