​Happy new year, people! 


2018 is upon us, prompting a raft of 'new year, new me' gibberish from most of the population, only to continue on exactly as they have been doing for many years once January 3rd is behind them. Nevertheless, enough of the stereotypes; 2018 is all set to be a great year. How could a World Cup year be considered anything other?


Apart from the showpiece summertime event in Russia, the 18th year of this millennium has plenty more events in store for those affiliated with the beautiful game, meaning that whilst many of you will be languishing with guilt and self pity after failing to keep up your new years resolutions, the game we all know and love will be around to supply you with a bit of comfort. 


Here are eight dates that you absolutely must jot down on your calendars for this year...


The Earliest Date That Manchester City Can Win the League - Saturday 3rd March

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League

Purely theoretical I know, but I'll continue. On current form, if Manchester City keep up their average points total per game (2.9), and Manchester United continue their average of 2.15, the Citizens could have the title wrapped up by 3rd March - in just eight games time. 


Of course, things would have to stay the same for this possibility to become true, but on current form this City side would become the earliest ever Premier League title winners, surpassing their arch rivals' record when the Red Devils won the league with five games still to play back in 2001. 


FA Cup Final - Saturday 19th May

AFC Fylde v Wigan Athletic - The Emirates FA Cup Second Round

England's most historic cup competition will come to it's conclusion for the season on the 19th May, and if this season's finale is anything like last season's where Arsenal dispatched the Premier League champions Chelsea in true underdog fashion, we're in for a treat. 


One side will be jubilant, one will be heartbroken. Nevertheless, this end of season spectacle will certainly hold a significant amount of emotion and interest, and despite what a lot of people having been saying in recent years, the magic of the cup is most certainly not dead. 


Champions League Final - Saturday 26th May 

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The greatest club competition on Earth comes to a highly anticipated finale on the 26th of May, where two of Europe's best sides will go head to head for the prestigious trophy (Ol' Big Ears as it's so often called). 


Will Pep Guardiola lead Manchester City to their first ever Champion League title? Or will Real Madrid win the coveted piece of silverware for a record third season in a row? Only time will tell, but you most certainly do not want to miss the spectacle in Kiev this year. 


World Cup Opening Fixture - Thursday 14th June

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The footballing world comes together for what is arguably the most anticipated sporting event on the 14th of June, where the first of 64 games will see the hosts take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium. 


Whilst this fixture in particular may not be the most exciting of the tournament, there's no doubt in any of our minds that we'll all still watch it; Panama could be playing Tunisia at 4 o'clock in the morning and we'd all still watch it... or attempt to at least. 


MEGA DAY OF FOOTBALL - Saturday 16th June

FBL-EURO-2016-FANS

Yes, more World Cup talk, but bear with. The most games on any given day at the World Cup this summer is four, and it happens on five separate occasions. However, the other four times that this phenomenon occurs happens to be on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all days which you'll more than likely be at work, meaning the 16th June is gonna be special. 


A whole day of football from 11am to 10pm, feet up, beer in hand, maybe a barbecue with the lads, whatever you fancy. This day is bound to be the most enjoyable day for a football fan throughout the whole year, so definitely get it in that calendar of yours. 


The Day Arsenal Lose Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil for Nothing - Saturday 30th June

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Yep. Gunners fans look away now. Unless Arsene Wenger succumbs to selling the pair for a cut price deal in the January window, your precious duo will be allowed to leave for nothing having let their contracts run down. 


On the other hand, although it seems unlikely, Wenger and those above him could reluctantly agree to the pair's £300k-per-week wage demands for each of them in order to keep them at the Emirates, but having failed to negotiate with the two on more than one occasion, this could be the date that Arsenal fans are praying never comes.  


World Cup Final - Sunday 15th July 

Germany - Training & Press Conference

This is it. The big one. Get your pens out and mark the 15th of July on that unwanted calendar you got for Christmas, because the World Cup final is almost upon us. 


It is almost four years since Mario Gotze's extra time heroics led Germany to World domination at the expense of Lionel Messi's Argentina, and for all that time we have craved such sporting drama back in our lives, but we needn't wait much longer. Who will be the hero for their country in Russia six months from now? 


New Transfer Deadline Day - Thursday 9th August 

Liverpool v Swansea City - Premier League

Following a vote from all 20 Premier League clubs, the summer transfer window will now close on the Thursday before the start of the season, in an attempt to allow clubs to have a settled squad for the beginning of the season; a brave decision given the fact that the old format remains the same for the rest of Europe .


Nevertheless, it will be good to finally have all the rumours put to bed and have the spotlight on the opening round of fixtures, and who knows, maybe that'll be the window where Philippe Coutinho finally gets his move!