United's October schedule is busiest ever
Manchester United are set to play nine matches next month - the most we have ever played in an October in our entire history.
The Reds return to action with our first domestic outing since 4 September, when facing Manchester City in the derby at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It kicks off a hectic spell for the club in this unusual campaign, with the World Cup finals taking place in Qatar later this year.
The following matches are also on the road, at Omonia Nicosia and Everton, before Old Trafford finally provides our stage again on 13 October, when we face Omonia in the home Europa League tie.
It is an unprecedented schedule for October, a month that traditionally contains an international break.
Trawling through the archives, it becomes clear this is a record - last term, we only played five times in October, while the lowest post-War figure registered was the three times we competed in 2014.
There have been five occasions where we have played eight times in the 10th month of the calendar year. The Reds were kept busy in 1971, 1976, 1981, 1984 and 1994.
In 1971, United performed superbly, going unbeaten in the first seven of the fixtures before losing 1-0 at home to Leeds United. George Best scored in four of the games and a 3-0 victory at Huddersfield Town featured strikes from each of the Trinity - Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton.
Five years later, Tommy Docherty's side had an up-and-down spell which included a 4-0 reverse at The Hawthorns and a 7-2 thumping of Newcastle United, with Gordon Hill bagging a hat-trick. A famous game kickstarted October 1981, with Bryan Robson signing on the pitch before Sammy McIlroy's treble in the 5-0 thrashing of Wolves but two defeats to Tottenham followed in that period, in addition to a sweet 2-1 triumph at Liverpool, thanks to Arthur Albiston's late winner.
During Ron Atkinson's reign, in 1984, a couple of European Cup-Winners' Cup trips added to the workload, both ending in draws (with Raba Vasas ETO and PSV Eindhoven), but there was still a fine 5-1 beating of West Ham United at Old Trafford. Unfortunately, the tough schedule seemed to catch up with us by the end of the month, as we suffered back-to-back defeats to Everton, including a 5-0 loss at Goodison Park.
A decade passed before we would play as many games in October but, this time, Everton were seen off 2-0 at the Theatre of Dreams. A 2-2 draw with Barcelona, Lee Sharpe backheeling a beauty, and impressive 4-2 win at Blackburn Rovers were among the highlights before we again ended with the same opponents in consecutive fixtures. Alex Ferguson played a lot of youngsters in a creditable 2-0 loss to Newcastle United in the League Cup before we beat the Magpies in the Premier League three days later, with goals from Gary Pallister and Keith Gillespie.
1971: P8 W5 D2 L1
1976: P8 W4 D2 L2
1981: P8 W4 D2 L2
1984: P8 W3 D2 L3
1994: P8 W5 D1 L2
So facing as many as nine fixtures in October is a new experience for United, even going back to our Newton Heath days.
The first three games are on the road but only four are away from Old Trafford in total, while three matches are in the Europa League, as we look to qualify for next year's knockout stages.
The time for the Chelsea clash has still to be confirmed.
OCTOBER 2022 SCHEDULE:
2: Manchester City (A) 14:00 BST
6: Omonia Nicosia (A) 17:45 BST
9: Everton (A) 19:00 BST
13: Omonia Nicosia (H) 20:00 BST
16: Newcastle United (H) 14:00 BST
19: Tottenham (H) 20:15 BST
22: Chelsea (A) TBC
27: Sheriff Tiraspol (H) 20:00 BST
30: West Ham United (H) 16:15 GMT