The Premier League fixture list for the 2020-21 season was announced on Thursday, with bumper matches lined up for the opening weekend.
The season was initially scheduled to start on August 8, but this date became unfeasible owing to the extension of the previous campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the conclusion of the campaign on July 26, clubs were given a six-week break to recuperate before getting back to action, while the transfer market is expected to run for ten weeks from July 27 until October 5, 2020.
The new season would follow in the format of the last with the use of VAR, while social distancing measures mean that there would be limited or no attendance of fans inside the Stadiums.
Tough opening day for promoted sides, Manchester teams given a reprieve
Leeds United ended their 16-year absence from the top-flight by winning the Championship last season but the Whites would be welcomed back to the Premier League with a tough trip to Anfield.
The defending Premier League champions have gone unbeaten for almost three years at home in the league and Marcelo Bielsa would be eager to get his first feel of Premier League management and would test his tactical acumen against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Elsewhere, fellow new boys Fulham would host Arsenal in an early London derby at Craven Cottage and Scott Parker would hope there is no repeat of the last time his side played the Gunners, with Arsenal trouncing Fulham 9-2 across both legs of their Premier League clashes two seasons ago.
The third promoted side West Brom would trade tackles with Leicester City at the Hawthorns, while Crystal Palace would host Southampton and West Ham face Newcastle at the London Stadium.
Another high-profile fixture on the opening weekend would see Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham host Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton and both sides would hope to start their respective campaigns brightly and compensate for their disappointing positions last season.
Owing to their exertions on the continent, clubs who partook in European competitions have understandably been given extra time off, with further progress in the competitions leading to more time given off.
Wolverhampton Wanderers saw their Europa League campaign come to an end at the quarterfinal stage against Sevilla on August 11 and have an extra two-day reprieve, with their opening trip to Sheffield United scheduled for September 14.
The same applies to Chelsea who got eliminated from the Champions League by Bayern Munich on August 8 and the West London side would travel to the AmEx Stadium to tackle Brighton and Hove Albion on the same day as Wolves.
It is a different scenario for both Manchester clubs, as their deep progress into both the Champions League and Europa League means that they have an extra week to rest before resuming their Premier League campaigns.
Manchester City got eliminated by Lyon on August 15 and were scheduled to host Aston Villa on the opening day but this game has been postponed to a yet-to-be-decided date and Pep Guardiola’s men would instead begin their Premier League campaign against Wolves on September 19.
The same applies to Manchester United who reached the semifinal of the Europa League and would kickstart their league campaign when Crystal Palace visits Old Trafford on September 20.
Testing start for Arsenal and Sheffield United, Wolves, Chelsea have favorable fixtures
As already indicated, Arsenal would begin their campaign with the short trip to tackle Fulham but that’s as easy as it gets for the Gunners, with four of last season’s top five in Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Leicester City all coming in the club’s opening seven fixtures.
Chelsea have been one of the busiest clubs in the ongoing transfer market and Frank Lampard would be pleased with the relatively easy run of games his side have been given at the start of the season.
The Blues kickstart their campaign with the visit of Brighton and other than a Matchday 2 clash with Liverpool, each one of their opening five opponents finished outside the top half of the table last season (including newly-promoted West Brom).
Elsewhere, Wolves have impressed with their performances over the last two seasons and if they are to build on that, the Molineux side would have to take advantage in the early stages of the campaign that sees them play West Ham, Leeds United, Fuham, Newcastle, and Crystal Palace in their first seven matches.
Sheffield United can consider themselves unlucky not to have finished in the European places last season and Chris Wilder’s side would do well to avoid the ‘second season syndrome’ and have games with Wolves, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester City to navigate in their opening eight games.
Derby dates and key fixtures to look forward to
Every season has key fixtures that fans look forward to, with these games playing key roles in deciding the title race, while marquee derby dates are also highly anticipated.
Dates for your diary! 📅
There are some crunch clashes in the first half of the season!
Who will be top of the tree at Christmas? 🎄
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) August 20, 2020
Defending champions Liverpool would host Everton in the Merseyside derby on October 17 at Goodison Park, while they would travel to the Etihad to take on Manchester City on November 7 – in a match that could have huge ramifications on the title race. The Reds would host bitter rivals Manchester United on January 16, while their second leg clash with City would come at Anfield on February 6.
Manchester United would trade tackles with Chelsea on October 24 and would host Arsenal a week later, while the first Manchester derby would come on December 12 at Old Trafford. The second leg clash with Arsenal would take place in the last week of January, Chelsea visit Old Trafford on February 27 and Liverpool would be hosted on May 1.
Arsenal would visit Liverpool on September 26, while the first North London derby of the season would take place on December 5 at White Hart Lane, before welcoming Chelsea to the Emirates on Boxing Day.
Jose Mourinho would visit Old Trafford to take on his former side Manchester United on October 3, while another trip to an old side would see him face Chelsea on November 28, with the return fixture slated for February 3, while the second North London derby would take place on March 13.
Chelsea and Liverpool would trade tackles on the second day of the season and Manchester City would be Frank Lampard’s opponents on January 2, with the second leg slated for May 8, while Anfield would host the second leg clash between Liverpool and Chelsea on March 20.
Manchester City’s two fixtures against Arsenal are slated for October 17 and February 20, while the second leg of the Manchester derby would come up on March 6.