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What DID Newcastle United and Rafa Benitez do to Premier League fixture makers?

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Rafa Benitez can rub some people up the wrong way, that’s for sure, but quite what he has done to Premier League fixture compilers is anybody’s guess.

At the start of the 2018-19 campaign, five of Newcastle’s first eight Premier League games were against opposition from the Big Six.

They lost to Arsenal on what the Premier League would like you to call Matchday Six but managed 12 points from the other games and were 10 points clear of Newcastle after those eight games.

At the start of the 2019/20 campaign, in the nine-game span in which Benitez’s side will face Big Six teams five times, Everton will again face only one — Manchester City at home on what the Premier League would like you to call Matchday Seven.

It could be argued that having a schedule with tough early tasks can be beneficial — anything you get from the games will be a bonus, and all that.

A list loaded with early tough fixtures can set a tone for the season and, in some cases, can cost a manager his job.

When the fixtures announcement is made, most people respond to analysis of the schedule with a shrug of the shoulders.
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