Which team has the hardest and softest first six games?

  • The full Premier League fixture list for the 2023-2024 campaign has been released
  • All 20 teams in the English top flight now know when they will play each other
  • Mail Sport have analyzed who has the easiest and hardest start to the season

The Premier League fixtures for the 2023-2024 campaign were announced on Thursday morning, prompting fans to queue up and debate why their club has been hit hardest by next season’s schedule.

Of course, all teams will play each other in the division both home and away throughout the campaign, but when and where these matches take place can have a significant impact on results.

Starting away against a promoted team in the first game of the season is likely to be more difficult, for example, than facing them in the middle of the fixture list – and that doesn’t take into account form (or lack thereof), injuries and more.

So which side has the easiest and hardest start to 2023-24? And how do the big six do it? Below, Mail Sport have ranked each Premier League club’s first six games – and their last six games too.

Each team has been ranked based on last season’s final table (with Manchester City at one and Luton, who are promoted via the Championship play-offs, at 20), and the scores from the first six opponents have been calculated. The lower the score, the harder the race. Read on to see where your team ranks…

The fixtures for the new 2023-24 Premier League season were revealed on Thursday morning
Chelsea (pictured) are one of the sides who have a friendly opening to the upcoming campaign
Below, Mail Sport have ranked the difficulty of each Premier League club’s first six games

Who has the easiest start to the 23-24 season?

1. Manchester City

2. Chelsea

3. Luton

4. Brighton

5. Aston Villa

6. Tottenham

7. Arsenal

=7. Brentford

=7. Liverpool

10. Manchester United

11. Wolves

12. Everton

=12. Crystal Palace

=12. Fulham

15. West Ham

16. Sheffield United

17. Nottingham Forest

=17. Burnley

19. Bournemouth

20. Newcastle

(No. 1 is the easiest start, 20 is the hardest).

20. Newcastle (lineup difficulty: 47)

Newcastle supporters may already feel that they are not getting the green light from the Premier League.

And those conspiracy theories may well continue as our analysis shows they have by far the toughest start to the season, with a brutal August ahead.

The Magpies face European qualifiers Aston Villa, champions Manchester City away, then high-flying Liverpool, Brighton and Brentford. Only facing promoted Sheffield United provides a respite from difficult opponents in the top six.

19. Bournemouth (line-up difficulty: 54)

Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil was lauded, perhaps not widely enough, for guiding the Cherries away from relegation last season.

But they could be near the bottom after their first six games, which include trips to Liverpool, Brentford and Brighton, as they play four of the ‘Big Six’ at the end of September.

They also host Chelsea and Tottenham at the Vitality Stadium – both of which could be revived under new managers Mauricio Pochettino and Ange Postecoglou respectively.

=17. Burnley (lineup difficulty: 55)

Welcome back, Burnley! Vincent Kompany will know the challenges he faces as his side return to the big time. But it might be a little more difficult than he originally expected…

Facing reigning title holders Man City first – the season’s curtain-raiser – is as tough as it gets, and they also face Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester United early on, albeit all at Turf Moor.

Trips to the promoted Luton and traditional home powerhouse Nottingham Forest take on huge importance in this context.

17. Nottingham Forest (Lineup Difficulty: 55)

Skov endure a nightmare start, quite simply.

Arsenal away on the first day with Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City away over the course of four games.

Home games against the promoted Sheffield United and Burnley at the City Ground will be huge as they could easily lose the four games against the top teams. It is too early to call them ‘six-pointers’, but Steve Cooper will know that results there are decisive.

16. Sheffield United (Lineup Difficulty: 57)

The Blades won’t be happy with their start to the season either. Although an opening game at home to Crystal Palace in front of a raucous Bramall Lane will provide a fine opportunity to win, things get tougher from then on.

Facing Forest away from home is never easy, with Manchester City, Tottenham (away) and Newcastle in their first six.

Everton at home on September 2 already looks earmarked as a crunch at the bottom.

Gary O’Neil’s Bournemouth could be struggling near the bottom after their first six games

15. West Ham (Lineup Difficulty: 59)

Although their hugely underwhelming 2022-23 Premier League season was overshadowed by their Europa Conference League triumph, David Moyes will know things need to improve on the domestic front.

With that in mind, early trips to Bournemouth and promoted Luton will be important as the Hammers look to get off to a good start.

Especially given games against Chelsea, Brighton, Man City and Liverpool in their first six may not yield many points.

=12. Fulham (line-up difficulty: 60)

Fulham come in tied for 12th in the tournament ticker, not the best but not the worst.

They could well expect to beat Everton at Goodison Park first and Luton at home. But Arsenal and City away in consecutive weeks are likely to end up with two defeats.

They come in below Palace as the Eagles host the Cottagers in the sixth game of the season.

=12. Crystal Palace (lineup difficulty: 60)

It’s a mediocre start for Palace.

Facing newly promoted Sheffield United first is arguably the worst time to play them, while Arsenal – penultimate year – at home is tough and Brentford is one of the hardest places to go in the division.

But home games against Wolves and Fulham could see the south London side bounce back from a challenging opening.

Crystal Palace will be hoping to use a fanatical home support to help them get points on the board

12. Everton (Lineup Difficulty: 60)

Everton face a mixed bag.

Fulham and Wolves at home in their first three are excellent to win, but the two are squeezed by trips to European qualifiers Aston Villa, a likely pumped Sheffield United and doubtful Brentford.

Arsenal – who the Toffees beat last season – will also prove a tough encounter.

11. Wolves (lineup difficulty: 62)

Wolves will look at their first six games with a mixture of hope and pessimism.

There are four away games, with just two at home – against Brighton and Liverpool, who both finished in the top six last year.

Man United at Old Trafford to start is not easy and while Luton and Everton will not be heavy favorites at home, the atmosphere at these two grounds could make things more difficult than expected for Julen Lopetegui and Co.

10. Manchester United (Lineup Difficulty: 63)

Man United can be quietly confident after their first six games were revealed.

Wolves and Forest at home in the top three is nice – although the trip to Wolves on Monday night has frustrated fans – while Tottenham can still figure out how to play under new boss Ange Postecoglou.

Visitors Arsenal and hosts Brighton won’t topple, of course, and they should beat Burnley too. Four wins out of six would set them up nicely for the rest of the season.

While Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United can be quietly confident after the games came out

=7. Liverpool (lineup difficulty: 65)

Away games against Chelsea and Newcastle in the first three will be a tough challenge for Jurgen Klopp as a potential new Liverpool aim to start on the right.

But second-placed Bournemouth at home is a gimme and Klopp wants nine points from Aston Villa (h), Wolves (a) and West Ham (h) in their next three games.

And we know what the Reds are like when they get some momentum behind them…

=7. Brentford (lineup difficulty: 65)

Given Brentford’s strong home record, it is a promising sign that they have four of their first six in front of their own fans.

Tottenham’s first game under Postecoglou, Palace, Bournemouth and Everton are not the most difficult games either.

Certainly, Fulham away in the west London derby and Newcastle at St James’ Park could knock Thomas Frank’s men off their feet. Meanwhile, Ivan Toney is set to return from his eight-month ban in a London derby.

7. Arsenal (Lineup Difficulty: 65)

One senses Arsenal won’t be too upset about their start to the season as they look to make another push at the Premier League title.

Three of their first four at home, against Forest, Fulham and United, along with a trip to Palace, will help the Gunners get off to a good start.

They would back themselves to beat Everton and a potentially shaky Tottenham too. That said, there are a few potential banana skins in there with e.g. United and Palace – plus anything can happen in the north London derby.

Promoted Luton Town will be happy to have some winnable games early on after going up

6. Tottenham (line-up difficulty: 66)

It’s been an up and down start in terms of games for Spurs under Ange Postecoglou following his move from Celtic.

Brentford away look set for a home win – they will exploit any defensive weaknesses – while United are also not the soft touch of old, and Arsenal away in their first six is ​​also another tough one.

But playing Bournemouth and the promoted Burnley and Sheffield United in the space of a month could give Ange some quick wins.

5. Aston Villa (Lineup Difficulty: 67)

Unai Emery and Co are not having it all their own way, with trips to Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea presenting some challenges.

But between those games, Everton, Burnley and Palace – the first and last of which at home – will be targeted for wins.

It is certainly worse for many teams.

4. Brighton (line-up difficulty: 69)

Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton will have to balance the jam-packed Europa League calendar alongside their domestic ‘bread and butter’ this year.

So it’s helpful that they start with more friendly inventory. Luton at home may be their easiest game of the season first, while Wolves, West Ham and Bournemouth may not offer fierce opposition.

However, Man United and Newcastle in consecutive weeks will pressure the Seagulls.

3. Luton (lineup difficulty: 73)

Luton will be happy to see some winnable games early on as they aim to fight the drop this season.

Home games against Burnley, West Ham and Wolves offer real opportunities to get points on the board early on.

It also helps that fellow promoters Burnley and Sheffield United are enduring more difficult starts, which could kill their confidence and momentum early on.

While Pep Guardiola’s champions Manchester City have the easiest first six games of any team

2. Chelsea (Assessment difficulty: 77)

Up-and-coming Mauricio Pochettino could hardly have asked for a better start to his Blues career.

A free hit against Liverpool first followed by games against West Ham, Luton, Forest and Bournemouth in their next four.

Villa at Stamford Bridge after that could be their sternest test after Liverpool. Expect a positive start.

1. Man City (lineup difficulty: 81)

Champions City are the best team in the division, certainly in the world, so it’s a bit ironic that the team that least needs a helping hand has had the best start to the season.

Newcastle, at home, in their second leg will be competitive but the atmosphere for the returning Treble heroes at the Etihad could give them the edge.

Otherwise they play in their top six: Burnley, Sheffield United (both promoted), Fulham, West Ham and Nottingham Forest. Tasty.

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