Happy chappies and derby days in the Premier League

Football junkies received their latest hit when the fixtures were announced for the next Premier League season and instantly got fans drooling over some tantalising pairings – and this time they can actually go to watch the games too! But not everyone’s happy…
Happy chappies and derby days in the Premier League

Pep Guardiola celebrates with the Premier League trophy as Manchester City are presented with the title. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Football junkies received their latest hit when the fixtures were announced for the next Premier League season and instantly got fans drooling over some tantalising pairings – and this time they can actually go to watch the games too!

But not everyone’s happy…

LIVERPOOL – HAPPY

JURGEN KLOPP's side face their toughest run of fixtures in a tight six matches in three weeks over Christmas. The matches could define Liverpool's season as they look so tough on paper, but the good news, for their fans, is they are matches Klopp has done well in during recent encounters.

Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara with manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara with manager Jurgen Klopp

They are at home to Aston Villa on December 11, before hosting Newcastle four days later. That's the easy bit, in theory, even though they are never so straight forward as they look on paper. Then it gets potentially tough.

On the 18th, they go to Tottenham in the knowledge they have a seven-match winning run against the North London side. December 26 marks a home game against fierce rivals Leeds. It is a trip to Leicester just two days later before they go to Chelsea on New Year's Day.

Safe to say there will not be much time for festivities among the Liverpool players in the season ahead! At least with those matches out of the way they can attack 2022 with relish!

MANCHESTER CITY – UNHAPPY

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola
Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola

PEP GUARDIOLA is hard to raise a smile from at the best of times, but the Catalan coach will not have been overly amused when the fixtures handed him a tough looking start to their title defence. He will hope to have Harry Kane on board for their opening day fixture away to Tottenham, but it is hard to imagine Daniel Levy sanctioning that deal in time for him to play against his former club!

With Tottenham out of the way, they face Arsenal, Leicester City, Chelsea and Liverpool in their first seven games. If they start slowly, as they did last season, it could make retaining that coveted trophy a tougher task than usual.

BURNLEY – UNHAPPY

Burnley manager Sean Dyche
Burnley manager Sean Dyche

SEAN DYCHE has been a one-man managerial miracle worker keeping Burnley in the Premier League for what will be a sixth successive season come August. As ever, he will be looking for a seventh on one of the smallest budgets and this season he seems to have the fixtures against him too. They all play each other over the campaign, but there are some runs of games better than others.

Dyche will not complain about an opening day match against potential relegation rivals Brighton, but they have a stinking string of matches going into the New Year. Just as injuries and suspensions will begin to take a toll on his small squad, Dyche goes to Manchester United on December 28 and Leeds United three days later.

Elland Road is the easiest one on paper as they then have successive home matches against Leicester City, Manchester United and Liverpool with an away trip to Arsenal to mix it up. Six consecutive fixtures against top half 'big six' sides could determine their season.

DERBY DAYS

BRENTFORD v ARSENAL – August 14

THE BEES have never played a Premier League match and have not featured in top flight football since 1947 so the prospect of Arsenal making the trip from north to west London is a great reward for their long-awaited promotion triumph.

Brentford fans show their support during the Sky Bet Championship Play-off semi-final second Leg match against AFC Bournemouth at Brentford Community Stadium last month
Brentford fans show their support during the Sky Bet Championship Play-off semi-final second Leg match against AFC Bournemouth at Brentford Community Stadium last month

The only thing predictable about Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side is their unpredictability, but they will still be favourites to come away from the Brentford Community Stadium. Their pristine new ground is less than a year old, so that will be another novelty for Arsenal's anxious army of visiting supporters.

Arsenal revisited many a record for losing to clubs for the first time in living memory last season so have a chance to rewrite history again! Brentford's star striker Ivan Toney has been a player Arsenal have coveted from across the capital, but there is no way they will want to part with their leading scorer - his 31 goals last season marked an all-time Championship scoring record - now.

ARSENAL v TOTTENHAM – September 25

Tottenham escape an opening day derby clash, with the modest task of hosting reigning Premier League champions Manchester City instead. Imagine if that is Harry Kane's first game for Pep Guardiola's side!

Spurs finished seventh last season and whoever their new manager turns out to be – looks like being sacked Roma boss Paulo Fonseca – will be expected to get them back into the top four and Champions League qualification. To do that, they will have to succeed in a remarkable run of derbies early on. The only one that matters – at least to the fans – is the first North London Derby of the season.

Erik Lamela scores against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in May 2021.
Erik Lamela scores against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in May 2021.

Crowd trouble has long since stopped this match being held on landmark Christmas and New Year's Day dates, so it has been slotted in for an early September showdown.

It is fair to say Tottenham's season could be dictated by how well they get on against their closest rivals as a run of derby setbacks could knock their confidence for the season ahead.

Man United v Man City – November 6

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER is under pressure before a ball is kicked this season. He has challenged himself to win the Premier League title for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired and seeing Pep Guardiola's Manchester rivals run away with the Premier League last season will not have helped.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 

At least he has time to get a few good results in the back before City are due to visit Old Trafford in November to resumed a rivalry that dates back to 1881. United managed to end City's relentless winning run towards the end of last season when a 2-0 victory ended a stretch of 22 matches without defeat for Guardiola's men.

Some might say that United's opening day home game against old rivals Leeds United will be spicier, but there is something about the Manchester Derby that lifts sets spines tingling around the footballing world.

Everton v Liverpool - November 30

LIVERPOOL manager Jurgen Klopp marked his 54th birthday by getting to plot his way over a new set of fixtures over his birthday breakfast. An opening day trip to relegation favourites Norwich City seems a fair start, but fans will always be looking closer to home and the first Merseyside derby of the campaign.

Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fouled by Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during a Merseyside derby last season
Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fouled by Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during a Merseyside derby last season

Everton fans will be the vocal hosts when Klopp's men go to Goodison Park at the end of November by which time they will already be over a third of the way through the season. The midweek floodlit atmosphere will only enhance an always exciting occasion.

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