Aston Villa get an awfully easy start to their 2015-16 Premier League campaign as we can all now see with the Premier League fixture list revealed. Their first six matches are at newly-promoted Bournemouth, Manchester United, at Crystal Palace, Sunderland, at Leicester City, and West Bromwich Albion.
Given that in 45 matches across all competitions last season Villa only managed to get 15 wins, it might surprise you to know that the club's record against those six teams was 7-3-3. Almost half of the total wins last year came against those sides. And while traveling to Liverpool should never be considered easy, Villa are 2-0 at Anfield in the past two years and did manage two wins to one loss against the Reds last season. The next opponent, Stoke, split the series with Villa.
So all told the first eight matches of the season are against teams that saw Villa get 66% of their wins against. That means that if Tim Sherwood's squad comes out playing good football, they may be able to stake themselves to a nice advantage and put relegation fears away early.
But that long of a relatively easy stretch means that there must be some bumps in the road somewhere else. And while most of the season is pretty well balanced (no more of the two stretches of death that we had last season), the final two months will certainly pose a challenge if Villa somehow are still relegation threatened.
In the final ten matches, Villa must make trips to face both Manchester clubs and close with one to Arsenal. They also host Spurs, Chelsea, and Southampton. That's six very tough matches in the season's dying breaths.
Other highlights include a Boxing Day visit from Wests Ham United and matches against everybody's favorite punching bag: Norwich City.
If you'd like to see the full list, we've got it here. I'm inclined to say that this year is much more friendly to Villa than was last year, but in the meantime, what do you think?