Tuesday 25 June 2019

Key clashes, title showdowns, winter break and the VAR factor as the Premier League fixtures are revealed

Premier League managers Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Premier League managers Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Just 13 days after the club season drew to a close with Liverpool lifting the Champions League trophy in Madrid, the starting gun has been fired on the new campaign with the release of an enticing set of Premier League fixtures.

Manchester United's clash with Chelsea is the stand-out fixture from the opening weekend of the new season, with a host of intriguing games now being etched into the diaries with the big kick-off just 57 days away.

THE OPENING WEEKEND

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be eager to get his campaign off to a fast start after a disastrous end to last season, with an opening day clash against Chelsea at Old Trafford a challenging opener for what is likely to be a much-changed United side.

With the futures of David De Gea, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku are all uncertain, United may be in a period of transition when the season gets underway and they have a challenging second game to negotiate as they travel to Wolves for a tough away game.

The cloud of uncertainty hovering over United is also encroaching on Chelsea, with club legend Frank Lampard a strong favourite to be named as the club's new manager once Maurizio Sarri's switch to Juventus is confirmed.

Meanwhile, European champions Liverpool will kick-off the Premier League season when they entertain Championship winners Norwich at Anfield on Friday, August 9th.

THE RUN IN

Liverpool appear to have the toughest run-in to the season, with matches against Arsenal and Chelsea in their final three games.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds will travel to Arsenal in their 36th Premier League game of the season and they will then entertain Chelsea at Anfield in their penultimate match of what they hope will be another push for the title.

While Liverpool face a tough final few weeks of the season, champions Manchester City have what appears to be a more comfortable final month, as they play Southampton, Newcastle, Brighton, Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich.

THE HEADLINE CLASHES


Manchester City's home game against Liverpool in the opening weekend of April is a fixture that jumps out of the new fixture list.

The title rivals played the second of their two Premier League matches in early January last season, yet they could directly affect the title race when they go head-to-head at a point in the campaign when the finishing line is within sight.

Liverpool's first clash against traditional rivals Manchester United will be at Old Trafford on the weekend of October 19th, while the first north London derby of the campaign will see Tottenham travel to Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on the final weekend of August.

HOW THE FIXTURES ARE DECIDED

The season is broken down into five sets of fixtures and in any five matches, there should be a split of three home and two away matches - or the other way round.

No team will ever have more than two home or away games in a row and a team will also never start or finish the season with two home or two away games.

CHANGES FOR THE NEW SEASON

A winter break will be in place for the first time in the Premier League, but you may not notice the gap as fixtures will continue to be played throughout.

Ten teams will be given a week off in February while the other ten are playing, meaning there will be just five Premier League matches played on two weekends of the season.

VAR technology will also be introduced into the Premier League for the first time next season, with the refereeing aide certain to play a pivotal role in the narrative in the opening weeks as officials get to grips with the new system.

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