Away from the top of the table clashes and the feisty local derbies, there are plenty of other intriguing fixtures to look forward to in the new Premier League season. Here are eight of them to look out for.
St. James’ Park: August 24, Upton Park: January 18
The management career of Sam Allardyce has been successful, apart from a disastrous five months in charge of Newcastle United. For one reason or another, things just didn’t work out for Allardyce on Tyneside, and he was out of the game for nearly 12 months following his departure from St. James’ Park. Allardyce might be forgiven if he had a quiet snigger at the events of recent days at Newcastle, with Joe Kinnear’s return as director of football making the club a laughing stock again.
Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan will be back at Newcastle, and Alan Pardew will also face former employers if he decides working with Kinnear is what he wants. It is fair to say that there is no love lost between these two clubs.
Crystal Palace vs. Sunderland
Selhurst Park: August 31, Stadium of Light: March 15
On paper, this fixture doesn’t look anything special, until you seen the two managers in the dugout. Both are passionate about their causes, both are quite outspoken and both want to win at all costs.
Crystal Palace and Ian Holloway must know they will be in around the relegation battle, and Sunderland will do well to be above mid-table too. An early win for Palace would be great for morale in August, but it could be March’s encounter on Wearside that says more for the final outcome. Holloway v Di Canio though will be a fascinating match-up.
Norwich vs. Aston Villa
Carrow Road: September 21, Villa Park: March 1
Two seasons ago, Paul Lambert and Norwich City were in a happy marriage, or so it seemed. His departure to Aston Villa was acrimonious, and it led to a dispute that was finally settled out of the public eye after legal teams looked like they would be involved. Lambert didn’t endear himself to Norwich fans either for the celebrations on the touchline after Villa’s victory in East Anglia at the backend of last season. There is respect between the players and the opposing managers, but that’s as far as it goes.
Carrow Road on September 21 for mark two will be interesting to see whether Lambert made the right decision to walk out on Norwich for a younger, regenerated Villa outfit.
Newcastle vs. Liverpool
St. James’ Park: October 19, Anfield: May 11
The Liverpool vs. Newcastle epic encounters of 1996 and 1997 are among the finest, if not the greatest games in history of the Premier League. It is on the back of these memorable matches that a meeting of these two sides is an attractive one on any Premier League calendar.
Recent history favours the Reds, and Newcastle supporters will not want any reminders of the 6-0 mauling they received from Brendan Rodgers’ side in late April. Newcastle’s final day visit to Anfield could be catastrophic. Although they got a point last season, they haven’t won there in the league since April 1994.
Hull vs. Sunderland
KC Stadium: November 2, Stadium of Light: February 8
Steve Bruce will have scrolled down his fixture list on Wednesday to see when Hull City come up against his former employers Sunderland. His experience at the Black Cats almost finished his managerial career. Bruce has even admitted that he was short on options until the Hull opportunity was offered to him.
He has got them up, and although he won’t publicly admit it, chances are that deep down he will love to score some revenge on the club that destroyed his reputation. The clash on February 8 at the Stadium of Light will be a strong battle to see who really has the last laugh.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Stamford Bridge: December 28, Anfield: April 26
Jose Mourinho certainly didn’t endear himself to Liverpool fans in his previous incarnation with Chelsea. His feud with Rafael Benitez turned this fixture into the biggest in England for a few seasons, and spring rarely passed without a meeting in the latter stages of the Champions League.
Christmas will be ruined for the loser of the match at Stamford Bridge, and the Anfield clash could be a stumbling block for both in their league objectives this season. Mourinho gets on well with Brendan Rodgers, but he did with Benitez too until the ‘ghost goal’ in 2005. The rest is history.
Man Utd vs. Everton
Old Trafford: December 3, Goodison Park: April 19
Manchester United vs. Everton has some added spice to the encounter this year as David Moyes will be on the red half of this battle. Moyes has left Everton with the club’s blessing, and the supporters will not forget the great progress made under his management.
The Old Trafford battle will be a prelude to the game at Goodison on 19th April, which looks the hardest of the Red Devils run-in. High praise is bound to be shared between Moyes and Everton in the build-up, but it will be the three points that really matter, especially at such a potentially decisive moment of the season.
Norwich vs. Swansea
Carrow Road: December 14, Liberty Stadium: March 29
In four Premier League meetings this pair, there have been 20 goals, an average of five goals per game. Norwich vs. Swansea is a game where goals are almost a certain guarantee.
The two matches at the Liberty Stadium in recent years have been end-to-end from the first moment to the last minute, so expect more of the same. If there is a surprise fixture that should receive some form of broadcast privilege, this one should be high on the list.
See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG