Belfast Telegraph

City have edge as fixtures put Pep in pole


Head to head: Pep Guardiola (left) and Jurgen Klopp
Head to head: Pep Guardiola (left) and Jurgen Klopp

By Simon Lovell

Manchester City will start the defence of their Premier League title at West Ham.

The 2019-20 fixtures handed Pep Guardiola's team an opening match at a venue which has proved to be productive for them since 2017.

City, who have won successive Premier League titles, have picked up three points in east London in the last three seasons - scoring four goals each time.

The champions follow their August 10 lunchtime trip to the London Stadium with a home match against Tottenham. Games against Bournemouth, Brighton, Norwich and Watford follow.

Liverpool, pipped by a point to the title by City, get next season up and running on Friday, August 9 at home to newly-promoted Norwich. Clashes against Southampton, Arsenal, Burnley, Newcastle and Chelsea round out their first six fixtures.

Last season's top two meet at Anfield on November 9, with the return at the Etihad Stadium scheduled for April 4.

The run-in also appears to favour City, who do not face any teams who finished in the top half last season in their final six, following that visit of Liverpool.

In contrast, Jurgen Klopp's side have a home game against Chelsea sandwiched between trips to Arsenal and Newcastle.

Manchester United, who finished sixth last season, have an eye-catching opener, at home to Chelsea on Sunday, August 11. Whether Maurizio Sarri is still in charge of the visitors remains to be seen, with the 60-year-old Italian linked with the vacant managerial role at Juventus.

Arsenal start at Newcastle, also on the Sunday, with the other opening day fixtures taking place on the Saturday.

The evening match sees Aston Villa, who secured a top-flight return with victory over Derby in the Championship play-off final, face a tough opener at Spurs.

The other newly-promoted team, Sheffield United, start at Bournemouth, while there is a sense of deja vu as Watford host Brighton in a repeat of last season's opening match, while Burnley and Southampton also faced each other at St Mary's in their 2018-19 opener.

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace are at home to Everton and there is a Midlands derby with Wolves travelling to Leicester.

It was revealed last week that Amazon would show 20 matches in each of the next three campaigns - with the two rounds confirmed. The first full midweek schedule takes place on December 3 and 4 and features Manchester United's home match against Tottenham and the Merseyside derby at Anfield. The Boxing Day programme sees United host Newcastle, while City and Liverpool are at Wolves and Leicester respectively.

Details have also been revealed about the first mid-season break, with one round of matches to be split over two weekends.

Five fixtures will take place on the weekend commencing February 8, with the remainder being played the following weekend.

Belfast Telegraph


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