FIXTURES: Opening day games in Premier League
Image credit: PA Dave Thompson
Premier League champions Manchester City will start the defence of their title away to Tottenham after the fixtures for the 2021-22 season were unveiled.
City are among the sides heavily linked with Spurs striker Harry Kane, throwing up the tantalising possibility that the England captain could line up against the north London club on the opening weekend of fixtures in the Premier League.
Pep Guardiola’s side won the division by 12 points last term ahead of rivals Manchester United, who open their campaign against old foes Leeds at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere on the weekend of August 14, new boys Brentford begin life back in the top flight for the first time in 75 years with a London derby at home to Arsenal, while Sky Bet Championship winners Norwich entertain Liverpool on their return to the Premier League.
Champions League winners Chelsea welcome managerless Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge while Everton, another side looking for a new head coach, host Southampton, with Leicester facing Wolves at the King Power Stadium in an early battle for midlands bragging rights.
Watford, the third promoted side, take on Aston Villa at Vicarage Road, Brighton visit Burnley and West Ham are away to Newcastle in the other matchday-one fixtures.
The Premier League campaign concludes on May 22 with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea all finishing on their own turf – against Villa, Wolves and Watford, respectively – while Manchester United round off the term at Crystal Palace.
Sticking in London, Brentford will face Leeds on the final day optimistic it will not be crucial to their survival hopes, while Arsenal play Everton.
Elsewhere on the last weekend, Tottenham are at Norwich, Leicester entertain Southampton while Brighton welcome West Ham to the Amex Stadium and Newcastle visit Burnley.
There are a number of early meetings between the ‘big six’, who were all involved in the Super League fiasco, with the weekend of September 25 seeing a repeat of the Champions League final when Manchester City travel to Chelsea.
Arsenal also host Spurs on matchday six in the first north London derby of the term. The second clash between the teams who finished seventh and eighth respectively last season occurs on January 15.
Matchday seven, the weekend of October 2, is the first meeting between the most recent Premier League winners with Anfield the scene for the latest installment of Jurgen Klopp v Guardiola and later in the month (October 23) the Reds visit Old Trafford to face arch-rivals Manchester United.
Two weeks later brings the first Manchester derby of the campaign at Old Trafford, while Manchester City host Chelsea in one of the opening matches of 2022 (January 15) and City face Manchester United in the return meeting on the weekend of March 5.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men travel to Anfield later that month (March 19) while Liverpool’s trip to the Etihad Stadium on April 9, matchday 32, already looks set to be a key fixture in the battle for the title.
All fixtures are subject to change for TV coverage. Currently there are only four rounds of midweek fixtures, with three of them in December.
The league’s statement reiterated its hope and ambition that matches from the start of the season will be played before capacity crowds, despite the Government delaying the final easing of coronavirus restrictions due to concerns over the Delta variant.
“The Premier League and its clubs are committed to the ambition of having full stadiums, including away supporters, from the start of the season, and will continue to work closely with Government and all relevant authorities, ensuring operational plans are in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to stadiums in August,” the statement concluded.
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