Summer is an exhausting period for fans. After an exhilarating nine months of league action, players and coaching staff embark on lavish retreats as they recover from the incessant demand to perform — meanwhile, supporters are left in search of any small way to get their football fix.
Thankfully, fixture release day temporarily satisfies that lust.
For the second year running, Watford will kick off their Premier League season at home to Brighton & Hove Albion. Having triumphed 2-0 over the Seagulls in the corresponding fixture last campaign, the Hornets will be hoping for another positive start in 2019/20. It is also the third consecutive year in which Watford have commenced their season at Vicarage Road.
Head coach Javi Gracia, though not one to believe in the importance of the ordering of fixtures, is delighted that he and his side have been granted the opportunity to begin the campaign as strongly as possible in front of the home crowd.
"I'm looking forward to the first game," the Spaniard said. "It will be the same as last season against Brighton, and we will try to prepare for that game during the whole of pre-season, trying to start in the same way we did last season.
"We knew already we would have to play against all the teams but now when I see the schedule my first impression is good. I'm happy and looking forward to the games."
The first away trip of the campaign sees Watford travel to Goodison Park to face Everton. The Hornets then round off August at home against West Ham United before visiting Tyneside outfit Newcastle United.
On the face of it, August looks a relatively kind month for the Hornets, and they can take encouragement from the fact that they triumphed in all four of their opening fixtures in 2018/19. However, September provides a different reading.
After the first international break of the season, Watford return to action as they host Arsenal at Vicarage Road on September 14 — they have emerged victorious in just one of their last six home league encounters with the Gunners.
The Hornets then travel to the home of their emphatic conquerors in the 2019 FA Cup final, Manchester City, before facing another difficult trip to Molineux Stadium of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Early December includes challenging visits to Leicester City and European champions Liverpool with a home game against Crystal Palace wedged in-between.
Watford then face Manchester United at Vicarage Road four days before Christmas, and travel to newly-promoted Sheffield United on Boxing Day.
The Hornets will conclude 2019 on home turf against Aston Villa, and also kick off the new year at Vicarage Road against Wolves.
A mixed run-in
Given the nature of their final fixtures, it may be the case that Watford will need to have obtained their required points tally before the beginning of May, but a more favourable couple of months prior to that still offers the chance for the Hornets to end the season on a high.
They face just one of the top six in March and April — a visit to Chelsea's Stamford Bridge on the 11th day of the latter — and can look forward to three home games in the penultimate month of the campaign against Southampton, Norwich City and Newcastle.
However, May presents a much more challenging task. After a trip to London Stadium to face West Ham, Watford's final home game of the season is against destined title contenders in Manchester City, before the Hornets finish the campaign with an encounter with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.
Other key dates
One fixture for all Hornets fans to look forward to is the trip to Tottenham Hotspur, where Watford will play their first ever game at the brand new 62,062 capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The match is currently scheduled to take place on October 19 though that is, of course, subject to change.
Unless a fairly drastic change of fixtures comes about, the reverse encounter with Spurs at Vicarage Road on January 18 will also be the inter-season Graham Taylor remembrance matchday, in which special presentations and tributes are arranged to mark what will be three years since the passing of Watford's greatest ever manager.
With the new campaign comes a fresh set of competition promoted from the Championship, bringing with them the opportunity for fans to experience new stadiums. As already mentioned, Brammal Lane of Sheffield United is set to host the Hornets on December 26, while Watford will visit Carrow Road of Norwich and Villa Park of Aston Villa on November 9 and January 21 respectively.
It is also worth noting that, for the first time in its history, the Premier League will incorporate a winter break into its scheduling. This has two unusual implications: firstly, the visit to Brighton's AmEx Stadium — currently timetabled for February 8 — could be pushed back one week, as top-flight fixtures will be evenly distributed across those two weekends; secondly, should Watford reach the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, the match will be played midweek to accommodate the period of rest.
Full fixture list*
10/08/2019 Brighton & Hove Albion (h)
17/08/2019 Everton (a)
24/08/2019 West Ham United (h)
31/08/2019 Newcastle United (a)
14/09/2019 Arsenal (h)
21/09/2019 Manchester City (a)
28/09/2019 Wolverhampton Wanderers (a)
5/10/2019 Sheffield United (h)
19/10/2019 Tottenham Hotspur (a)
26/10/2019 AFC Bournemouth (h)
2/11/2019 Chelsea (h)
9/11/2019 Norwich City (a)
23/11/2019 Burnley (h)
30/11/2019 Southampton (a)
3/12/2019 Leicester City (a)
7/12/2019 Crystal Palace (h)
14/12/2019 Liverpool (a)
21/12/2019 Manchester United (h)
26/12/2019 Sheffield United (a)
28/12/2019 Aston Villa (h)
1/01/2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)
11/01/2020 AFC Bournemouth (a)
18/01/2020 Tottenham Hotspur (h)
21/01/2020 Aston Villa (a)
1/02/2020 Everton (h)
8/02/2020 Brighton & Hove Albion (a)
22/02/2020 Manchester United (a)
29/02/2020 Liverpool (h)
7/03/2020 Crystal Palace (a)
14/03/2020 Leicester City (h)
21/03/2020 Burnley (a)
4/04/2020 Southampton (h)
11/04/2020 Chelsea (a)
18/04/2020 Norwich City
25/04/2020 Newcastle United (h)
2/05/2020 West Ham United (a)
9/05/2020 Manchester City (h)
17/05/2020 Arsenal (a)
*All subject to change