BEFORE we start analysing Oxford United’s fixture list, the first thing to do is savour the normality.

A football season that starts in August with fans in the ground will feel extra special after an eerie, exhausting 2020/21.

United played 17 Sky Bet League One matches on Tuesday nights last term, plus another eight in cup competitions.

Read also: Oxford United's full fixture list for 2021/22

Even with some postponements there should be far fewer midweek games this time around, enabling teams to recover better and maintain a higher standard of football for longer.

The lack of break between seasons was part of the reason the U’s started so poorly last year, but they will have had a normal summer when they kick-off at Cambridge United on August 7.

United must avoid playing catch-up again, especially with tough trips to Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland, Burton Albion, Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic in October and November.

The U’s will be the freshest they have been for two years and, with a relatively kind first ten games, they have the chance to harness the positivity and ensure it continues beyond August.