The brutal Premier League fixture run-ins awaiting West Ham, Man Utd and Wolves next season

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With the Premier League fixtures for the 2023/24 season unveiled, we look at the five toughest run-ins awaiting the teams.

Ah, fixture release day for the Premier League. A moment steeped in tradition – specifically, the tradition of making a mental note of your team’s first fixture and the dates of any derby games, whistling sharply when you look at your run-in, and then completely forgetting all of the information you’ve just taken in within 24 hours.

But while it is very much part of the ceremony that every team believes their last few games is, at the very least, “tougher than it looks”, there are always some teams who really do draw the short straw and end up playing a bunch of top four contenders over the closing weeks. These are the teams whose fans have a genuine right to complain – the greatest British hobby of them all, of course – and so we’ve decided to help out by providing the appropriate ammunition for the five teams with the cruellest run-ins in the top flight next season. So, in no particular order…


Brighton (h) Arsenal (a) Brentford (h) Chelsea (a)

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Obviously one of the problems with establishing which of the twenty teams has to handle the hardest home straight is that we can’t know for sure who will be good or bad next season. Anyone analysing the fixture list at this time in 2022 would have been perfectly justified in assuming Chelsea to be a challenging tie for the end of the campaign, only for Frank Lampard’s disaster bus to limp into town with several wheels missing and acrid smoke belching out of the exhaust.

So it is only fair to note that while Bournemouth’s final four fixtures look pretty horrible, it’s perfectly plausible that a final day visit to Stamford Bridge is actually a walk in the park or that, say, Brighton end up being a bit of a damp squib after losing several key players over the summer. But for now, that’s four fixtures without a single easy point available – if Bournemouth are in the expected relegation dogfight, then it could be pretty tough to survive a run-in like that.

Manchester United

Burnley (h) Crystal Palace (a) Arsenal (h) Brighton (a)

Most of the same caveats apply with Manchester United’s tricky-looking run, and while it’s tough to gauge how tricky a proposition Burnley will be, it’s fair to guess that Arsenal and a visit to the Amex won’t make for the simplest home straight should United still need some points to wrap up top four – or more.

Crystal Palace away is typically a pretty tough fixture but it is worth remembering that if Roy Hodgson’s second tenure at Selhurst Park continues for another year, then there is a well-established tradition of his sides being comfortably mid-table by the middle of April and spending a few weeks firmly on the beach. If that is the case, then this might not be so bad after all. That said, if we extended our calculations to five games, you’d have Newcastle in there as well. Swings, roundabouts, and so forth.

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Brighton & Hove Albion

Bournemouth (a) Aston Villa (h) Newcastle United (a) Manchester United (h)

Two likely top four contenders and the upwardly-mobile Villans, as well as a team who could easily be scrapping for their very lives at the bottom of the table – Brighton’s European ambitions may well take a pretty significant dent down the line if they aren’t in charge of their own destiny by the time that May hoves into view.

Given their own quality, Brighton also end up with the chance to be the Premier League’s kingmakers come the business end of the season – not that their fans will necessarily enjoy that status given that they their own ambitions to worry about.

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Luton Town (h) Manchester City (a) Crystal Palace (h) Liverpool (a)

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A real game of two halves here for the Black Country boys, with relatively benign home matches interspersed with two of the filthiest away days available. And yes, yes, we know there are allegedly “no easy games in the Premier League” but frankly, if Luton at home scares you, then your team probably has quite a few problems.

Which, in fairness, Wolves do, thanks to their struggles to comply with FFP and the difficulty of offloading their players. If those circumstances combine to put Wolves in the relegation battle – and remember they were bottom at Christmas before Julen Lopetegui turned things around – then it’s fair to say that trips to Manchester and Liverpool will not be very welcome.

West Ham United

Liverpool (h) Chelsea (a) Luton Town (h) Manchester City (a)

Probably the toughest and most terrifying of the lot – well, unless Chelsea are still a complete mess, of course. It’s perfectly plausible. That possibility aside, this is a frankly dreadful run-in to deal with, starting with the visit of Liverpool, then a trip to the richest team in the country, then, well… Luton at home. We’re not trying to be cruel to Luton here, but a home tie against a freshly-promoted team should never be scary on paper.

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But it all gets topped off with a visit to the reigning champions (of everything except for Thai energy drinks), which is unquestionably the toughest single game on the calendar, at least in theory. It’s pretty hard to gauge whether West Ham will be playing for anything by that stage of the season, but honestly it may be less painful if they aren’t. Hammers fans – you win the right to moan the most this season. Enjoy.

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