'No easy games' for Sheffield United, as Chris Wilder says - but Blades face some brutal runs in 2020/21 season
The excitement of this morning's Premier League fixture announcement may have been tempered a little by the fact that no-one knows when fans will actually be allowed in grounds to watch the games, but at least Sheffield United now know when and where they will start and end the new campaign when it kicks off next month.
Fixture reveal day will always have its cynics, pointing out that every team plays every other team home and away throughout the course of the campaign and the order is immaterial. Others look forward to it with a great excitement, plotting the weeks and months when they feel their team might be able to pick up some points and others where things might be a whole lot tougher.
Chris Wilder and his coaching staff won't be doing that this morning. The Blades boss has insisted, ever since his side won promotion, that he does not agree with singling out 'easy' and 'hard' blocks of games, and prefers to approach every game with the mindset of 'we can get a result here'.
Last season's results showed that was a successful approach, but the eye this morning was immediately drawn to the month of October, and the last few weeks of January. October sees the Blades face Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City - plus newly-promoted Fulham - while late January sees consecutive games against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and City. The latter two games are both away from home, and come within four days of each other. Ouch.
There are games to look forward to throughout the schedule, including the derbies against Leeds in September and April. It is a great shame that the Bramall Lane leg of that rivalry looks set to be played in an empty stadium, as will another trip to Villa Park where, hopefully, the technology will not fail this time around.
December, with six games packed in, looks as hectic a month as ever, while United's last four fixtures of the season could be a lot, lot worse. A lot will happen before then, of course; and, as we always have done, The Star will be there to bring you the latest, every step of the way.