The 2020/21 Premier League season is scheduled to begin on Saturday with Arsenal making the short trip to newly-promoted Fulham for the early kick-off.
There has been a short turnaround period of just seven weeks from the previous campaign after the coronavirus shutdown earlier this year and that will contribute to a more congested schedule going forward.
Liverpool and Manchester City are the front-runners to compete for the Premier League title and the former will be aiming to retain their English crown after ending their 30-year wait for the silverware last season.
Elsewhere, Leeds United are making their comeback to the top-flight after a 16-year hiatus and their performances will surely attract the attention of some opposition fans.
Three matches to watch out for in Matchday 1:
Fulham vs Arsenal – September 12: The opening game of any Premier League season will gather interest and Fulham have been handed a tough challenge against London counterparts Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s side finished a lowly eighth in the previous campaign, but they managed to offset the disappointment with the FA Cup final triumph over Chelsea which saw them qualify for the Europa League group stage.
The north London side have since won the Community Shield against Liverpool and will go into the new season with plenty of optimism. The Cottagers have not beaten the Gunners in the previous five meetings, but they won’t be pushovers, given promoted sides tend to flourish at the beginning of the season.
Meanwhile, the Gunners don’t have the best of records in the opening matchday of the Premier League with just three wins from the previous 10 occasions. Their away record has also been disappointing in recent years and they won just four of their 19 games on the road last season.
Liverpool vs Leeds United – September 12: The Reds will start their defence of their Premier League title against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United. The Merseyside giants produced a mixed run of form after the coronavirus shutdown last season, but that was acceptable, given they had already won the league title with seven games to spare.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have a testing challenge with Chelsea and Arsenal to face in back-to-back matches after Leeds and they will be aiming to begin the season with a similar flourish to the previous campaign when they put four goals past newly-promoted Norwich City.
Leeds’ work-rate and high press has been much talked about from their Championship winning season and it will be interesting to see whether they can replicate the same after ending their long wait for top-flight football. The club have made quality signings such Rodrigo and Robin Koch, but they still need to find their feet in the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton – September 13: The Tottenham Hotspur versus Everton game is definitely the standout fixture for the opening matchday. Spurs only finished sixth in the standings last term while the Toffees were equally disappointing as they were 12th on the table.
Jose Mourinho’s side have signed the likes of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Matt Doherty, who have Premier League experience and the focus now remains on whether they can push for a Champions League spot, which they missed out for the first time in five seasons last term.
The Toffees, on the other hand, have a new-look midfield with the arrivals of Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez. The Merseyside outfit are aiming to qualify for European football and it remains to be seen whether Carlo Ancelotti can deliver what his predecessors have failed to achieve in recent years despite the spending spree.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com