This season, for the first time ever, Aston Villa will play Burton Albion in a competitive fixture. We don’t yet know when, but within a handful of hours, we will, as the fixtures for the 2016-17 Championship campaign will be unveiled Wednesday at 9 a.m. BST.
The impending trip to the Pirelli Stadium will surely be the biggest reminder on the fixture list of Villa’s second-tier status, but supporters will more than likely "cmd+F" (or "ctrl+F" if you’re a Windows user) "Birmingham City" when the list is released, with the first Second City derby in the league set to take place since 2011.
In addition to the typical important dates — the opponent for the opening fixture (6 August), the festive fixtures and the final day (7 May) — Villa fans will also have matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion (fingers crossed for an early-season away day to the South Coast) and others to look forward to in 2016-17.
As always, don’t expect to see local derbies on key dates, but also don’t expect to see them during midweek slots either. Additionally, it sounds like the league is trying to avoid long trips during weekdays best they can, though Villa should, once again, be among the least-travelled teams this term. You can find some other interesting nuggets on the list from this Q-and-A with Competitions Manager Paul Snellgrove.
Wednesday will also mark the first-round draw for the League Cup, with Villa the highest-finishing of 70 Football League clubs to enter the competition at the first stage. Villa, along with Birmingham City, will be in the “south” portion of the competition and are one of the seeded clubs for the round. Potential opponents are AFC Wimbledon, Barnet, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Colchester United, Crawley Town, Exeter City, Leyton Orient, Luton Town, Newport County, Oxford United, Plymouth Argyle, Portsmouth, Southend United, Stevenage, Swindon Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town. The draw will be conducted at 1 p.m. BST.
Who do you want to open the season, Villa fans? Prefer to start away from home — where Villa have been pretty solid on opening days in years past — or do you fancy an early-August opening day at Villa Park?