Sunday 16 December 2018

Man City kick off title defence with trip to Arsenal as Premier League fixtures are revealed

Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy
Vincent Kompany lifts the Premier League trophy

Simon Lowell

Premier League champions Manchester City will start their title defence at Arsenal.

The 2018-19 fixtures, announced on Thursday morning, handed Pep Guardiola's record-breaking team an Emirates Stadium opener on the weekend of August 11/12 - a match which will also mark the Premier League bow of the Gunners' new Spanish boss Unai Emery.

City, who amassed 100 points and 106 goals en route to finishing 19 points clear of Manchester United in 2017/18, do not face another top six side until the trip to Liverpool in October. Games against newly-promoted trio Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham are part of a sequence which also includes Huddersfield, Newcastle and Brighton - the three teams who came up the previous season.

It is a similar story for neighbours United, who begin at home to Leicester. The 2017/18 runners-up have Tottenham at home in their third game, with Brighton, Burnley, Watford, Wolves, West Ham and Newcastle are their other early season opponents.

Liverpool's start appears more challenging. After hosting West Ham, Jurgen Klopp's men face Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in a run which also includes Crystal Palace, Brighton, Leicester and Southampton.

Tottenham, who have until Friday to decide whether to return to Wembley next season while work on their new stadium is completed, have been given an away opener - starting their second successive campaign at Newcastle.

Spurs are due to move back to their rebuilt home on the site of White Hart Lane for the new season, with Fulham their first scheduled visitors on the weekend of August 18/19.

North London rivals Arsenal face a tough first two games without Arsene Wenger. After the Gunners host the champions, the team now managed by Emery are at Chelsea.

Antonio Conte's Blues travel to Huddersfield on the opening day and after the trip to Arsenal come Newcastle, Bournemouth, Cardiff, West Ham, Liverpool and Southampton.

The promoted sides were all spared a daunting sequence of games to start the season - although all face one of the 'big six' in their opening four matches.

Championship-winning Wolves have a home opener against Everton, before trips to Leicester and West Ham sandwich the visit of Manchester City to Molineux.

Cardiff start at Bournemouth and have Newcastle at home and Huddersfield away, before the visit of Arsenal.

Fulham, who booked their place in the top flight with victory over Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final, begin at home to Crystal Palace, before the trip to Spurs is followed by Burnley at home and Brighton away.

The other first day fixtures see Southampton host Burnley and Watford take on Brighton at Vicarage Road.

Among the final round of matches, scheduled for May 12, Manchester City are at Brighton - where they started last season - while Cardiff and Wolves are at Manchester United and Liverpool respectively.

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