English Premier League (EPL) champions Liverpool have been handed a brutal start to the defence of their title with games against Leeds, Chelsea and Arsenal to begin the 2020-21 season. Leeds is one of the three newly promoted sides.
Liverpool welcome Marcelo Bielsa’s Championship winners to Anfield on the opening weekend, followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge and a clash with Mikel Arteta’s FA Cup holders in the third game.
Jurgen Klopp’s men also head to Goodison Park for the Merseyside derby with Everton in just their fifth game. Matchday eight pits them away to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – the side they dethroned as Premier League champions last season – and they host Leicester after that. Meanwhile, Manchester United’s clash with Tottenham on October 3 at Old Trafford could be one of the first fixtures to have fans inside a stadium since the start of lockdown in March, with the government looking to allow 30 per cent of capacity crowds from October 1.
United will begin their campaign on the second week of the season against Crystal Palace – their start has been moved back, along with Manchester City’s, due to their respective late runs in this season’s European competition.
United face a gruelling October – after Tottenham, they are away at Newcastle before hosting Chelsea and Arsenal at Old Trafford. They host neighbours City for the first time on December 12 and are away to Leicester on Boxing Day but don’t play Liverpool until January 16.
City have a tricky start to their campaign with a trip to Wolves in the second week followed by a home clash against Leicester, a trip to Leeds and a home tie against Arsenal. In terms of a potential title run-in, Liverpool’s last three games are West Brom away, Burnley away and Crystal Palace at home, while they also travel to Old Trafford in their fifth-last fixture.
City have Newcastle away, Brighton away and finish at home to Everton, while they also face Chelsea in their fourth-last game of the 2020-21 campaign. Chelsea start with a trip to Brighton before Liverpool head to Stamford Bridge. After playing Klopp’s men, they meet newly promoted West Brom.
Mikel Arteta begins his first full season as Arsenal manager with a trip across London to take on Fulham. Scott Parker’s side sealed a return to the Premier League via the play-offs. Arsenal then host another London rival in West Ham before they gear up for their clash with Liverpool. For Leeds, back in the Premier League for the first time since the 2003-04 season, an opening fixture away at the league winners is a tantalising prospect.
They follow that by locking horns with fellow newcomers Fulham at Elland Road before a trip to Bramall Lane against Sheffield United. They then meet Guardiola’s City in only their fourth game. Jose Mourinho is also preparing for his first full campaign at Tottenham, aiming to return the 2019 Champions League finalists into Europe’s elite club competition.
And overall, it is in encouraging start for Spurs, albeit with an intriguing opening day game with Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton. United are the only top-four side they play until November 21, but Tottenham then play City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in four of five games. Elsewhere on the opening weekend, Crystal Palace host Southampton, West Brom are at home to Leicester, West Ham host Newcastle and Sheffield United meet Wolves on the Monday night.