As Manchester United’s 2016/17 Premier League fixture list was released on Wednesday, many people had their eye on the usual games. Here are five of the most important fixtures in United’s calendar next season and why they hold such significance in an important year in the rebuilding of the club.
10 September: Manchester United vs Manchester City
The first real test that Manchester United and Jose Mourinho will face comes against Mourinho’s old foe in Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. Coming just four match-days into the new season and at Old Trafford, the quest for supremacy between the two begins again in September. Chances are this tie will be for first or second place and Mourinho will be keen to impress in his first big game back after the disappointing end to his time at Chelsea.
24 September: Manchester United vs Leicester City
It remains to be seen what condition the Leicester squad will be in season in given the speculation regarding Jamie Vardy, N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez and other players but this will be a clash of two similar styles and an old champions facing the reigning champion. Another huge tie in front of home support, Mourinho will be keen to show Leicester and the rest of England and Europe who is the best team in the league. Three points in this tie could announce them as genuine contenders despite how early the game falls in the season.
22 October: Chelsea vs Manchester United
Mourinho’s return to Stamford Bridge is unlikely to be a welcoming one. He left in 2007 and returned in 2013 but this time he will be returning in red with Manchester United.
He will have coached many of the players still in Chelsea’s squad and will be on the hunt for three points regardless of what it takes. With everything that has recently happened with Eva Carneiro and the club issuing an apology without ever backing Mourinho, there is sure to be lingering bitterness in the London air when the two sides face for the first time with Mourinho in United’s dugout.
19 November: Manchester United vs Arsenal
The ‘specialist in failure’, as Mourinho infamously called Arsene Wenger will get the chance to take on his nemesis at Old Trafford in November. Mourinho has always had the upper hand on Wenger and while there are other things to consider when this game is played, Mourinho versus Wenger will be the main talking point.
Danny Welbeck might be just coming back from his recent knee injury and there is still resentment lingering from the time Robin van Persie moved to United in order to win a title, and did so the following year. This game will see plenty of fireworks!
14 January: Manchester United vs Liverpool
This game needs no explanation but Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are sure to contend for a title this year. It will be the first year since Luis Suarez almost fired them to the title in 2013-14. Mourinho will see this as a real challenge with Premier League newcomer Klopp looking to take control of the United-Liverpool derby. They faced each other once last season with Chelsea losing 3-1 in what was Klopp’s first win as Liverpool manager. Expect this one to have plenty of storylines and lots of attention.