5 key observations as the Premier League fixtures are announced

Who has been hit hardest by the fixture computer? Who is travelling the length of the country over Christmas?

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The Independent Sport

The Premier League fixtures have been announced and the reality of a new season has truly dawned.

For Huddersfield Town and Brighton and Hove Albion it means a first-ever Premier League campaign and a chance for them to test themselves against the elite.

For Chelsea it is the chance to defend their title, and for everyone else to see how Antonio Conte can do with a more congested fixture list this season. 

But what are the notable matches that the computer has spewed out for us? 

We look at the pinch games and pressure points of the 2017/18 season. 

1. Arsenal's Europa hell


Wenger will be fuming at the cards his side have been dealt (Getty)

Arsenal aren't happy about being in the Europa League for the first time anyway. 

But add in the fact that they're playing five out of six Premier League games away from home after European matches and Arsene Wenger is going to be trés etonné.

Their first post-Europa game is a trip to Chelsea, then Brighton (h), Everton (a), Manchester City (a), Burnley (a) and Southampton at St. Mary's. That's not pretty.

2. Brighton will need early points

Chris Hughton might have hoped for an easier run-in (Getty Images)

Brighton's newly-expanded fanbase has been excited for their home Premier League opener, which falls on the opening day with the visit of Manchester City, but they should really be more concerned about that run-in.

The final 10 fixtures for the Seagulls are nothing short of brutal, facing six of last year's top seven as well as 2016 champions Leicester City and arch rivals Crystal Palace.

Potential relegation battles with Burnley and Huddersfield are dressed into a difficult run, starting in early March, but the Terriers aren't much better off. 

David Wagner's Prem newcomers finish their debut PL campaign with: Chelsea (a), Everton (h), Man City (a), Arsenal (h). Eesh. 

3. Jose's home comforts


Mourinho will find something to moan about, but he's done pretty well out of the fixture computer (Getty)

It is unlikely to stop him complaining about this, as he always does, but Jose Mourinho's Manchester United will play four of the six Premier League games following Champions League weeks at Old Trafford.

One of those is the Manchester derby, currently scheduled for December 9th, but expect some Mourinho fireworks around Bonfire Night with United heading to Stamford Bridge on the weekend of November 5th - and even moreso if the Old Trafford club have a hefty European away trip in the preceding days. 

4. Tottenham's housewarming (v Chelsea - August 19th)

Spurs will play all of their home games at Wembley next season (Getty)

Tottenham's first home game of the season at their temporary accommodation in Wembley is against cross-town rivals Chelsea.

It will be an early test of whether Spurs have what it takes to mount another title challenge. The north London derby at Wembley will take place on (or around) February 10th. Manchester United visit the home of football on the evening of January 31st - transfer deadline day. 

5. Festive fun

The Premier League faces a busy festive period (Getty)

Arsenal host Chelsea on New Year's Day, just as Man United head to Everton in the pick of the fixtures from a busy festive period. Burnley have a tough run over Christmas, facing Tottenham, Man United and Liverpool (with a trip to Huddersfield in between) on the 23rd, 26th and 30th December. 

Tottenham host West Ham on December 30, which should be a feisty encounter, while the pick of the early festive games is Arsenal's trip to Liverpool on December 23.

Brighton fans, inexplicably, have to travel to Newcastle on December 30th and then play at home two days later.