The Premier League announced its fixture list for the 2020-21 season on Thursday, with champions Liverpool starting their title defence at home to newly promoted Leeds.
Liverpool ended a 30-year wait to lift the league title last season, in a campaign that was suspended for 100 days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Just 48 days on from the end of the last season, Klopp’s Liverpool face Marcelo Bielsa’s men at Anfield, after Leeds ended their 16-year wait for promotion back to the Premier League.
In an unusual fixture calendar amid the problems caused by COVID-19, other notable matches in the opening round include Manchester United facing a trip to Burnley, last season’s runners-up Manchester City hosting Aston Villa, newly promoted Fulham hosting Arsenal and Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham welcoming Everton to Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Manchester United and Manchester City will miss the opening weekend of the Premier League after being granted an extended summer break following their European commitments. The Premier League has yet to confirm official dates for all matches, with games set for broadcast yet to be decided.
But it’s the season’s end that will concern United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with his side facing a tough run-in that culminates in a visit to Wolves on the final day. From March onwards, United face trips to Manchester City, Tottenham and bitter rivals Leeds, while also hosting Liverpool at Old Trafford on May 1. It’s a difficult start for United too, with home matches against Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal in their first seven games.
Liverpool face a tough start, travelling to Chelsea before hosting Arsenal after their opening day match with Leeds, with the season’s first Merseyside derby set for Oct. 17. The first meeting between last season’s top two is scheduled for Nov. 7 at the Etihad, with the return fixture at Anfield in early February.
Pep Guardiola’s City travel to Wolves in their second match of the campaign before matches against Leicester, Leeds and Arsenal. City end the season with matches away at Brighton and Newcastle, a home clash with Chelsea before a trip to Palace and a home match against Southampton to finish.
Fans will not be allowed to return to stadiums when the 2020-21 season starts as sport continues its fight against COVID-19. However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has targeted October for supporters to return to grounds. Other European countries such as Italy are also starting to develop plans to have spectators return. Spain, however, has said it is doubtful fans will be allowed into stadiums in September.
Meanwhile, Premier League clubs have voted against allowing the use of five substitutes in matches next season. The measure was put in place to guard against fatigue and injury last term but clubs have agreed to revert to the usual three subs per match.