The new Premier League season kicks off on Saturday with most clubs playing their opening fixtures this weekend. However, some games have been postponed due to the involvement of Manchester City and Manchester United in the latter stages of the Champions League and Europa League competitions.
Nevertheless, there are some exciting games to look forward to as Liverpool begin the defence of their title, and two clubs returning to the top-flight face tough opening tasks.
Fulham v Arsenal
The new EPL season gets underway at Craven Cottage on Saturday, as newly promoted Fulham welcome Arsenal for a 12.30pm kick off.
Fulham returned to the Premier League at the first time of asking, gaining promotion by beating Brentford in the Championship play-off final in August. Scott Parker has assembled a talented squad, led by captain, Tom Cairney, and will hope Aleksandar Mitrović can stay injury free, as his goals will be crucial to Fulham’s chances of avoiding another relegation battle.
Chairman, Shahid Khan, has refused to throw money at trying to keep Fulham in the Premier League, instead putting faith in the players that got them there, but Parker has been able to add Kenny Tete from Lyon. However, they have also secured the permanent signings of Anthony Knockaert and Harrison Reed, players who were instrumental in helping the Cottagers win promotion last season as loanees.
Arsenal will hope to finish higher than last season’s eighth place this term, but they did win the FA Cup at the start of August, before beating Liverpool on penalties to secure the first silverware of the new season when winning the Community Shield.
Keeping the services of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been critical, and manager Mikel Arteta has also been able to add Willian from Chelsea, Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille and Pablo Mari from Flamengo.
Arsenal last visited Craven Cottage in 2019 and won 5-1 during Fulham’s miserable relegation season; Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette each scored a brace that day. The Gunners have won on their last three visits to West London, and Fulham have not beaten Arsenal in their last six meetings dating back to 2012.
Liverpool v Leeds United
Current Premier League champions, Liverpool, start the defence of their title against newly promoted Leeds United at Anfield. This is the stand-out fixture of the opening weekend with the game kicking off on Saturday evening at 5.30pm.
The battle for the title is likely to be between Liverpool and Manchester City again, but it is City who start as favourites to win the league with the bookies. With them not having a game on the opening weekend, Liverpool will want to put City under pressure straight away with maximum points against Leeds.
Much of Jurgen Klopp’s title winning squad has remained at Anfield, with Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino expected to be in the goals once more, but Kostas Tsimikas has joined the ranks from Olympiacos too.
Leeds United will line up for a Premier League fixture for the first time since they were relegated in 2004. Marcelo Bielsa has built a solid squad, with Kalvin Philips, who recently made his England debut, expected to be one of their stand-out players. However, the Yorkshire club have also spent over £60m to improve their squad, with the notable signings of Helder Costa, Rodrigo Moreno and Robin Koch amongst their new additions.
The last time these clubs met in the EPL at Anfield was back in 2003, with Liverpool winning 3-1. They were paired together in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup in 2016, again Liverpool ran out winners at home, securing a 2-0 success, but you have to go back nine meetings to 2001 for Leeds last win over Liverpool, a 2-1 success at Anfield.
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