Ipswich Town have discovered their Premier League fixture list and can now ramp up preparations for the 2024/25 campaign.

The step-up will be big, but Kieran McKenna is adamant that his side will be ready for the challenge. Alex Jones takes a look at their schedule for next season.

The Blues will take on Liverpool and Manchester City in their first two Premier League gamesThe Blues will take on Liverpool and Manchester City in their first two Premier League games (Image: PA)

Welcome back!

Let’s address the elephant in the room – the first two games.

When the fixtures were announced yesterday morning, this was what stood out. Liverpool at home followed by Manchester City away. Since 2017/18, the Premier League title has only been won by one of these two teams, and they’ve both won the Champions League once in that time.

They are two powerhouses of English, European and global football, and they’ll be the first teams to face Ipswich in the 2024/25 season. Nothing like a baptism of fire, eh?

Different people will have different views on this. Some will see it as a nightmarish start, the worst possible outcome. Town are expected to come out of these two games with zero points and a heavy negative goal difference.

Remember when Norwich started the 2021/22 season with games at home to Liverpool and away at Man City? They lost 3-0 and 5-0 respectively in a campaign where they ultimately finished rock bottom.

On the other hand, what an amazing introduction to life in the Premier League. The Blues will get to test themselves against the best players in the world. The town will be buzzing ahead of both games, and what’s to say they can’t cause an upset?

Liverpool don’t have Jurgen Klopp anymore. Arne Slot has come in as their new boss, but he’s got big shoes to fill and has never managed outside of the Netherlands. The trip to the Etihad Stadium will be a tougher task, but how much will Man City’s opening game at Chelsea take out of them?

Even the biggest pessimist has to admit that, if nothing else, at least two of the hardest games are out of the way early. That’s certainly ideal.

Town faced Fulham in last season's Carabao CupTown faced Fulham in last season's Carabao Cup (Image: PA)

It gets better

Fulham visit Portman Road next. They got the better of Ipswich in the Carabao Cup last season, so it’ll be an interesting marker of how far the team has come. The trip to Brighton, which comes after the September international break, is filled with narrative, with McKenna coming up against the team that he reportedly turned down over the summer.

Southampton away and Aston Villa home follow shortly after that, with a game at West Ham coming before a home tie against Everton in October.

These aren’t easy games, but this is the period where the points have to come from. Again, looking at Norwich in the aforementioned 2021/22 season, they didn’t register a single win until November 6th, and the Blues simply can’t afford to do that or else they risk being cut adrift early on.

This is probably when the table will start to take shape. We’ll see who’s in a title race, who’s battling for Europe and who’s at risk of relegation. Taking points against the likes of Fulham and Southampton could be crucial given the festive schedule.

Ipswich are set to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing DayIpswich are set to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day (Image: PA)

A balancing act

One thing that stands out in November, December, January and February is that the games are split fairly evenly. In each month, Ipswich have a couple of ‘winnable’ matches and a couple of heavy hitters. Of course, they’ll be looking to take points from the former to take pressure off the latter.

Let’s start with November. If they can take positive results at home to Leicester City and away to Nottingham Forest, there’s less pressure to win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium or beat Manchester United at Portman Road. At least those two games are separated by an international break.

December is similar. Home games against Crystal Palace and AFC Bournemouth could be vital, and Town should be confident heading to Molineux given that they beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup last season. The three games either side of Christmas – Newcastle United at home, Arsenal away and Chelsea at home – may be slightly more daunting.

January sees Ipswich reacquainted with old friends Liverpool and Manchester City, and the aim will be very similar. Only two teams have won a league game at Anfield in the last three league seasons – Crystal Palace and Leeds United. Likewise, Man City don’t tend to lose many games wherever they play, so getting a good result against them at Portman Road is a big ask. That, in turn, puts pressure on games away at Fulham and home to Brighton.

February looks a lot like November. That home game against Southampton will bring back memories of Jeremy Sarmiento’s last-gasp winner, but it’ll also be a real opportunity for Ipswich ahead of trips to Aston Villa and Manchester United. Spurs at home won’t be an easy game either.

Julen Lopetegui will take his West Ham side to Portman Road on the final day of the campaignJulen Lopetegui will take his West Ham side to Portman Road on the final day of the campaign (Image: PA)

The run-in

Although March only has two fixtures, it’s an important month. Ipswich will fancy their chances away at Crystal Palace and home to Nottingham Forest. A trip to Bournemouth comes next on April 1st, quickly followed by a home game against Wolves. If Town can build up some form in that period, it could help them heading into games at home Arsenal and away at Chelsea.

Newcastle are the last top-tier opponent, and their lack of European football should give them the platform to be really competitive next season, so St. James’ Park won’t be an easy game to go. After that point, we’re well and truly in the run-in, and the Blues couldn’t have asked for much more.

Of course, there are no easy games in the Premier League, but this is an easy run-in by Premier League standards. May will see them head up to Everton before hosting Brentford, with a trip to Leicester on the penultimate weekend before hosting West Ham on the final day.

Like the opening games, there are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, these games all come against sides who are expected to be towards the bottom of the table – West Ham aside. Everton and Leicester are among the bookies’ favourites for relegation while Brentford might finally have to face the prospect of losing Ivan Toney this summer.

On the other hand, all of these teams could have something to play for. There’s little chance of them being ‘on the beach’ and ready for the season to end, which could present McKenna’s men with a tricky finale to navigate.

Kieran McKenna will take charge of a Premier League match for the first time on August 17thKieran McKenna will take charge of a Premier League match for the first time on August 17th (Image: PA)

Final thoughts

The opening two matches are eye-catching. They present the fixture list as something that’s much harder than it is, and understandably so. Once you look past those games, you realise it isn’t actually that bad.

Of course, it goes without saying that every game in this league is incredibly difficult, but Ipswich have a nice balance when looking at a month-by-month basis. There’s no extended period that makes you wonder where the points are coming from, no ‘month of doom’, so to speak.

Portman Road will be key. Brentford are the recent success story in terms of making the step-up from the Championship to the Premier League, and in their first season at the level they boasted better home form than Aston Villa, Brighton and Leeds. The Blues had the best home record in the league last season, so it’ll surely be vital once again.

The biggest thing is to keep the faith. There’s every chance that Town are bottom of the league after two games. There’s every chance that they have a run of three, four, five games where they fail to win or score. Everyone at the club is adjusting to a totally new level, which means that mistakes will be made. Even McKenna, a man who’s worked at this level before, isn’t going to get everything right across a 38-game season.

Those at the top of the club know what they’re doing, however, and they’ve proven that over an extended period. Trust in the process, back the manager and enjoy the ride. Nobody expected that Ipswich would be playing the biggest clubs in world football when they were playing in League One just two years ago.

Everything is starting to feel real. In just 59 days, Ipswich will take on Liverpool at Portman Road, with everything coming full circle from their last Premier League match at Anfield on May 11th, 2002.