Man Utd set for nightmare mid-season run which could define Premier League title challenge
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been tasked with negotiating an extremely tough run of fixtures.
Manchester United have been dealt a duff hand by the Premier League fixture computer, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side set to play a string of their title rivals immediately after Champions League fixtures in the autumn
The Premier League clubs learned their schedule for the 2021-22 season on Wednesday morning, when the full fixture list for the upcoming season was announced.
And, in a blow to United’s hopes of challenging for the Premier League title, the fixture list sees the Red Devils face a number of tricky games straight after their European commitments.
Man Utd return to Champions League action next season following a year in the Europa League, and English UCL clubs often hope for relatively easier matches either side of their crunch European games. But United have been handed no such luck.
Of the six designated Champions League dates, United face their three likeliest Premier League title rivals immediately after half of them.
Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford follows immediately after the club’s third European group game, with a Manchester derby scheduled just days after the fourth round of Champions League fixtures.
And a trip to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea awaits on the same week of the potentially decisive fifth-round group match.
The qualifying rounds of the Champions League start later this month, with United set to learn their group-stage opponents in August.
The Champions League factor isn’t the only tough ask in United’s fixture list.
With the exception of a trip to Wolves on November 20, Man Utd play arguably the seven strongest teams in the division in succession.
October sees the Manchester club play four league fixtures, against Everton, FA Cup winners Leicester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
And November is barely any easier, with games scheduled against holders Man City, Watford, European champions Chelsea and then Arsenal.
Manchester United’s autumn fixture list in full
11 Newcastle United (H) CL group game 1 18 West Ham United (A) 25 Aston Villa (H) CL group game 2
2 Everton (H) 16 Leicester City (A) CL group game 3 23 Liverpool (H) 30 Tottenham Hotspur (A)
CL group game 4 6 Manchester City (H) 20 Watford (A) CL group game 5 27 Chelsea (A) 30 Arsenal (H)
4 Crystal Palace (H) CL group game 6 11 Norwich City (A)