Premier League fans up and down the country are taking a break from World Cup fever to scour the 2018-19 fixture lists.
Whatsapp groups and texts will illuminate phones as people traipse into offices – when’s the derby against the hated rivals? Who have we got boxing day?
But which teams have the fixture computer been kind to and who will be cursing their luck with a nightmare start or tricky run-in?
Sportsmail assesses the winners and losers of Thursday morning’s announcement.
The Manchester giants
Manchester United play host to Manchester City on March 16, a game which is likely to have some significance on where the title ends up. Yet both clubs only have one top-six rival to face in their last seven matches – and both are at home. City play Tottenham on April 20, while United welcome Chelsea a week later. They are very favourable run-ins.
Alexis Sanchez and Manchester United only face one title rival (Chelsea) in their last seven
Some big fixtures early doors, but Mauricio Pochettino will be targeting a two-and-a-half month period from December 5 to really throw down a title marker. Eight home matches out of 13 in that time, with Manchester United the only traditional top six team they have to play. The likes of Southampton, Burnley, Bournemouth, Wolves and Watford all travel to White Hart Lane then.
Dele Alli and Harry Kane will be eyeing up a relatively easy middle period in the season
Jurgen Klopp will be grinning about their lack of travel over the Christmas period. Liverpool do have Arsenal (home, Dec 29) and Manchester City (away, Jan 1) to play but the furthest they are travelling is Wolves on December 22, with Newcastle set for Anfield on Boxing Day. Additionally, there will be no dramas over television scheduling as there was last season when fans were in uproar over a potential Christmas Eve trip to the Emirates.
Liverpool, with Alexander-Arnold, Mane and Van Dijk celebrating, have an easy festive period
It looks a treacherous start to the season on paper. Tottenham are at St James’ Park to begin with, before a trip to newly-promoted Cardiff. Granted, nobody quite knows what sort of shape Chelsea (home, Aug 25) are going to be in, but that looks dangerous sat alongside a game at champions City and the visit of Arsenal. Rafa Benitez could, however, turn that into a positive with some decent results, because their run from the middle of September to Christmas looks very manageable.
Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle face Tottenham, City, Chelsea and Arsenal in their first five games
Sean Dyche will want the points required for whatever he is trying to achieve by early April, because the final four games look a pretty daunting prospect. Chelsea away on April 20 is followed by the visit of Manchester City (Apr 27), a trip to Everton (May 4) and the last day takes Arsenal to Turf Moor.
James Tarkowski and Burnley have been saddled with the run-in from hell
Unai Emery has a tough start. Manchester City are first up at the Emirates Stadium before two London derbies against Chelsea (away, Aug 18) and West Ham (home, Aug 25). All three are potentially tricky fixtures and following that comes trips to Cardiff City and Newcastle either side of the September international break. Momentum, positive or negative, looks likely to be a factor there.
Unai Emery’s reign at Arsenal starts with matches against Manchester City and Chelsea
10 KEY MATCHES
August 11: Arsenal v Manchester City (Unai Emery’s first game in charge)
August 11: Wolves v Everton (first match for newly-promoted Wolves since relegation in 2012)
August 11: Fulham v Crystal Palace (Fulham’s first Premier League game since 2014)
August 18: Cardiff v Newcastle (Cardiff’s first home Premier League game since 2014)
October 6: Liverpool v Manchester City
December 1: Liverpool v Everton (first Merseyside derby of the season)
February 27: Chelsea v Tottenham
March 2: Tottenham v Arsenal (first North London derby back at White Hart Lane)
March 16: Manchester United v Manchester City (final Manchester derby of the season)
April 27: Manchester United v Chelsea
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