Sunday 23 September 2018

Emery faces baptism of fire at Arsenal

The early schedule does not get any easier for Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman’s 22-year reign ended last month. Photo credit: John Walton/PA Wire
The early schedule does not get any easier for Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman’s 22-year reign ended last month. Photo credit: John Walton/PA Wire

Chris Bascombe

New Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been handed a challenging introduction to English football, with the Gunners facing champions Manchester City in their first game of the new Premier League season.

Pep Guardiola's trip to the Emirates is the stand-out fixture for the weekend of August 11-12 when City's Spanish coach will kick off his bid to become the first back-to-back title winner since Alex Ferguson 10 years ago.

After the tough opener, the early schedule does not get any easier for Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger after the Frenchman's 22-year reign ended last month.

Arsenal then travel to Chelsea for their first away game - less than three weeks after the teams meet in a friendly at the Aviva Stadium.

There is a similarly tough opening for Tottenham Hotspur, who will play three of their first four games away from home due to the late completion of their £850m new stadium.

They have been granted permission by the Premier League to play their first home game at Wembley, when newly-promoted Fulham - who secured promotion via the play-offs in the stadium - will be visitors.

One of the most enticing encounters of the first few weeks sees Spurs host Liverpool for the first game in their new arena on the weekend of September 15-16.

Broadcasters Sky and BT are already in discussions about their first round of television games - all yet to be announced - and it is likely all these marquee matches will be shown live.

All the fixtures published yesterday are subject to change, with the TV schedules likely to be announced early next month.

Manchester United begin at home to Leicester City, with their first test against a top-four rival coming against Spurs at Old Trafford on August 25.

Liverpool will begin their season at home to West Ham and must then travel to Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal in their first six away trips as well as hosting Manchester City in early October.

Newcomers Wolves and Fulham return to the Premier League with home games against Everton and Crystal Palace respectively, while Neil Warnock - back in the top flight with Cardiff - begins his campaign with a trip to Bournemouth.

The most difficult start of all is surely Newcastle's.

Their first eight games include meetings with Tottenham, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Among the other eye-catching games are the first Manchester derby, provisionally listed for November 10, the North London and Merseyside derbies on December 1 and Manchester United's visit to Liverpool on December 15. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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