Erik ten Hag will face a big early test of his credentials with Manchester United due to play Liverpool at Old Trafford in only his third game in charge.
The new United manager has not been given an easy start after the fixtures for the new Premier League season were released on Thursday morning ahead of what promises to be a unique campaign with the first ever winter World Cup scheduled to take place in Qatar in November and December.
After games at home to Brighton and away to Brentford, United will host Liverpool on Aug. 20 for the first meeting between the clubs at Old Trafford since Jurgen Klopp’s side inflicted a 5-0 humiliation on their bitter rivals that marked the beginning of the end for Ten Hag’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United were also thrashed 4-0 by Liverpool at Anfield in April and Ten Hag will be desperate to ensure supporters see a very different team this time around.
The season will kick off on Friday Aug. 5 when Crystal Palace welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park. Manchester City will begin the defence of their Premier League title away to West Ham two days later.
City pipped Liverpool to the title by a point for the second time in four seasons last month and the country’s best two teams will lock horns again at Anfield on Oct. 15. The second instalment will be at the Etihad Stadium on April 1 with the rest of the top flight once again facing a huge challenge to keep pace with City and Liverpool.
Nottingham Forest – last season’s Championship play-off winners – will play their first game back in the Premier League after a 23 year absence when they travel to Newcastle on Aug. 6.
For the first time ever, the Premier League season will break for six weeks after the Nov. 12 round of fixtures with many players then heading off to Qatar to compete in the World Cup finals.
There will be no so-called “big six” matches on that weekend after a request from England manager Gareth Southgate as the Three Lions bid for World Cup glory for the first time since 1966.
The Premier League will resume on Dec. 26, when United host Forest, City travel to Leeds and Liverpool go to Aston Villa, but – as Telegraph Sport revealed this week – there will be no fixtures between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve as moves are take to guard against fatigue. It means another departure from tradition in what will be a novel season.
Clubs face three games during an eight-day period over Christmas and New Year with the pick of those being arguably champions City’s trip to Chelsea on Jan. 2.
City face a tough penultimate league game at home to Chelsea on May 20, when Liverpool welcome Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa. Both teams are away on the final day, with City travelling to Brentford and Liverpool going to Southampton. Liverpool host Tottenham on April 29 in a repeat of the game that effectively cost them the title last time around when they drew 1-1 at Anfield.
Premier League new boys Fulham face a tough start when they travel to Liverpool on Aug. 6. Bournemouth, who were also promoted, are at home to Villa on the opening weekend.
Arsenal welcome Tottenham to the Emirates Stadium in the first North London derby of the season on Oct 1 in what marks the start of a forbidding October for Mikel Arteta’s side. They face Liverpool at home the following week and then go to Leeds before champions City come to the Emirates on Oct. 18.