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VIEW FROM THE STANDS: Fixture Release Day

We hear from loyal Saints fan Sam Kimish to get his take on the fixture list for the 2015/16 Premier League season.

20 teams will do battle for the Barclays Premier League trophy
20 teams will do battle for the Barclays Premier League trophy
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Following on from this morning's announcement of the 2015/16 season's Premier League fixtures, we decided to assess the path of the season ahead through the eyes of a fan.

We're joined for this piece by Sam Kimish, Saints fan and a member of the Cardiff Saints Supporters Group.

Sam will be casting an eye over the fixture list, from matchday one to matchday 38, and offering us his view from a fan's perspective.

So without any further ado, let's get to the nub of this piece.

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Fixture release day is a day of intense excitement and curiosity for fans of almost every club.

That cursory glance at the opening game of the season hopes for something winnable, before leading to a quick stare at the run-in to ensure that any potential poor end to the season can be prevented where possible.

But then, perhaps most normally, fans identify a run of 'tough' fixtures through the remainder of the campaign.

Last season, Saints encountered a festive period that saw them pitched against Manchester United (twice), Arsenal (twice), Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of nine games.

This time round, however, there is no such cluster of 'tricky' fixtures which could threaten to derail Saints, as identified by Sam.

"The festive run-in as a whole looks a little less hectic this year compared to previous," Sam noted.

"But, I'm worried that a Europa League run could see our squad wear thin before then. hopefully our league form doesn't suffer from any European jet-lag!"

Saints start out with an opening weekend trip to St. James' Park, before facing two promoted sides - Norwich City and Watford - in the opening six games of season.

Much like last season, the opening six games of the campaign offer an opportunity for Saints to establish the club in the higher echelons of the league table.

Ahead of the opening day game against what is expected to be a new-look Newcastle United side, led by former England and Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren, we asked Sam for his views on the curtain raiser to the 2015-16 season.

"The first game of the season gives each team the perfect opportunity to flex their proverbial and literal muscles and show the rest of the league how strong they will be.

"As with most keen football fans, my attention each year is always firstly drawn to the season opener and this year that sees us trek to Newcastle.

"I personally prefer to start in front of a warm crowd at home, but it's fair to say that we have definitely been handed a kind opening five fixtures so it's difficult to complain.

"Home games against Everton and Norwich, alongside trips to Watford and West Brom, all look winnable on paper and provide the chance to get some early points on the board before a much more difficult September/October."

October sees Saints welcome AFC Bournemouth to St. Mary's, just four seasons after the two sides met in League 1 - with Southampton running out 3-1 winners at Dean Court with goals from Lee Barnard, Dean Hammond and Rickie Lambert.

The arrival of Bournemouth on the Premier League stage was singled out by Sam as being among his hotly-anticipated fixtures for the 2015-16 campaign.

"I've always been one to play down the oft-overhyped 'rivalry' between the two largest teams on the South Coast (still feels good to say that), but the two fixtures against Bournemouth are definitely personal highlights for me.

"The home fixture comes on Halloween, my Dad's birthday, so it would be good to get the family along to the game whilst the away fixture falls mid-week in March (presumably in front of the TV cameras).

"I'll be taking a day off of work and travelling down to Bournemouth early to make a day of it, I think.

"I'm lucky enough to have played (and scored) at Dean Court, and it's a stadium full of the type of character that I've been missing ever since they knocked down The Dell."

Beyond potential highlights of the coming campaign, Sam also focused on the season just gone, which saw Saints record their best-ever Premier League season, and picked out his personal highlight from last season's fixtures.

"The Boxing Day trip to Palace last season was a personal highlight for me. I travelled to the game with my family and some family friends; the santa hats, the result and the fact that it came less than 24 hours after my Christmas Day roast all made it a memorable trip.

"This season sees us up against Arsenal at home, and it definitely looks a little less appealing to me personally, as I can see Arsenal performing extremely well this season and being a very strong side."

Last season's run in saw Saints lose four of their last six - against Stoke City, Sunderland, Leicester City and Manchester City - with a 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur and a thumping 6-1 home win over Aston Villa to sign-off at St. Mary's for the season.

This season's run-in does not look dissimilar, with Aston Villa, Leicester City, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur all featuring once again.

This time around, though, Stoke City and Sunderland are replaced by Crystal Palace and Everton.

However, this season's concluding fixtures - finishing with Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace - leave Sam with a feeling of quiet confidence.

"Man City, Spurs and Palace comprise our final three fixtures, and I'm quietly confident with that run in. Man City are starting to show their age, and if they lose Yaya Toure - the perennial match-winner - I can see them struggling slightly.

"I always feel confident of beating Spurs, especially at home and Dell-hurst Park has always been a fruitful hunting ground for the Saints."

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All-in-all, Southampton's fixture list for the coming season, perhaps for the first time since promotion, does not look daunting, and should be embraced. It offers a good mix of difficult ties, and supposed 'easier' games.

Of course, we still have to factor in the aspect of fixtures being moved and Saints coming into games off the back of mid-week European competition (just said it again, still sounds good), but it's all shaping up for a tasty season.


St. Mary's Musings would like to thank Sam for giving us his views for the first in a series of 'fan reaction' columns, and you can give him a follow over on Twitter - @SamKimish.

if you'd like to get involved with the website for future 'fan reaction' pieces, just let us know over on our own Twitter - @StMarysMusings.