Saints 2021/22 Fixtures - The Toughest Start Possible Historically
Wednesday, 16th Jun 2021 10:01
The opening day fixture that we now know is against Everton at Goodison Park was the first date that everyone looked for, a tough game in a tough start, here we look at that and the other key dates in the 2021/22 Premier League season for Saints.
Traditionally Goodison Park is a ground where even a draw is a cause for celebration, we have not won there in the league since 1997 and aside from our win there in 1992, we have not won since we were relegated in 1974 in the top flight.
It is a ground that few Saints fans have seen a win on, that 1992 game was a midweek fixture with few Saints fans making the trip and even the 1997 game was a tv fixture on a Sunday so a reduced away following made the trip. We have better records at Manchester united and Liverpool than Everton, only perhaps our record at Arsenal is as bad.
Kevin Davies scored a wonder goal in that 2-0 win back in 1992, can we repeat that in August.
After travelling to Goodison Park, a ground that we have not won on in the Premier League for approaching 25 years, we then face one of the biggest home fixtures in the season as Manchester United arrive at St Mary's.
We follow that up with a visit to Newcastle United, West Ham at home and then perhaps the toughest trip of the season the trip to Manchester City.
So it is certainly a tough opening 5 games for Saints, but a programme that sees 5 games that we traditionally get little out of out of the way early doors, indeed from these 5 fixtures in 20/21 season we got just 1 point out of 15 , that being a 0-0 home draw with West Ham, the previous season was little better with only 2 points from these games.
In fact if you add the solitary point we got from the same run of fixtures in 2018/19 then out of a total of 45 points on offer in the past three seasons out of 15 games we failed to win a single game and gained just 4 points, these are all our bogey games thrown in at the start of the season.
In 2017/18 those fixtures saw 4 points gleaned, almost an excuse for an open topped bus tour, but it hardly improves the stats much 8 points out of 60.
From this perspective it is a good round of opening games, if we get more than 2 points then we will have done well and from an optimistic viewpoint we are surely due a win or two against these team.
Other games to look out for are Liverpool away on 27th November, the first South Coast derby on 4th December when Brighton come to St Mary's.
The Xmas programme start with Boxing Day when we travel to West Ham United, then Spurs at home on the 28th and Newcastle at home on New Years Day, surely the fixture compilers know nothing about geography giving Newcastle their longest away trip on this day.
February is a tough month with the first two fixtures being a midweek trip to Spurs followed by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
April is the busiest month outside of December and sees the London trio of Chelsea, Arsenal & Crystal Palace at St Mary's alongside a visit to Elland Road and the short trip along the South Coast to Brighton on 23rd April, which if played on that day will be exactly 11 years to the day of that glorious 2-1 win at the Withdean when a late comeback saw us win 2-1 and ensure that we got that second automatic promotion spot behind the Seagulls who went up as Champions.
For those who follow Saints away, Jose Fonte's match winning header in the final minute followed by the sheer adrenalin rush and wild celebrations both in the awful temporary stand and the running track rank right up there in the greatest away games.
The final month sees just three fixtures, the first is one that all of our regular travelling fans have been looking forward to, the trip to Brentford and their new ground, but it is a tough final two fixtures, Liverpool at home and then a trip to Leicester City.
So now we know what fixtures are when, well perhaps not the exact date and kick off times, but at least the weekend they will be played on.
As I said a tough start, but it is in essence a free hit, we never get much from those five fixtures, so if we were to lose 4 games it would be not much worse than any of the previous four seasons points wise.
So lets start looking forward to the new campaign, hopefully with two months to go we will have battened down the Covid 19 issues and will be able to return to football grounds in large numbers for the first time in what will be 18 months,
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
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