Premier League Fixtures Give Favourites Tricky Start

The newly-released fixtures for the 2021/22 season may be causing Pep Guardiola a little consternation.  Manchester City are looking for a fourth league title in five years and the Citizens are run-away favourites to lift the Premier League trophy on 22 May – the final day of the season when the team plays Aston Villa – with odds as short as 5/6 available from bookmaker SBK.  But City’s defence of their title starts with a tricky away match against Tottenham Hotspur, followed by matches against Norwich City, Leicester, Southampton and Chelsea.  Manager Guardiola will be seeking to recruit a new striker (potentially Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund or Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur) to counter the threat posed by rivals Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea who are all expected to strengthen their squads during the summer transfer window.

Manchester United will be looking to go one better in the forthcoming season, having finished as runners-up in May.  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team were disappointed to lose the Europa League final to Villareal but tomorrow is another day, and Solskjaer will have £220 million at his disposal to invest in new players this summer with his targets thought to include Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, West Ham’s Declan Rice and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho.  Interestingly, despite these plans and the second place finish last season, top bookies still don’t fancy United to win the League, with odds of 21/2 from bookie SBK placing them fourth in the betting order behind City, Chelsea and Liverpool.  Manchester United will play the resurgent Leeds United in their first fixture on 14 August with matches scheduled against Southampton, Wolves, Newcastle, West Ham and Villa in the period to the end of September.  

2019/20 League winners Liverpool struggled to regain lost ground last season, with injured players hampering their chances, and finished third behind City and United.  The Reds did finish the season with a flourish, however, with a 10-game unbeaten run and next season could look completely different for Jurgen Klopp’s team with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip back in shape.  Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold reflects the team’s confidence about the forthcoming season, saying “Next year we’re coming back for trophies” and bookie William Hill offers odds of 11/2 that Liverpool will win the Premier League title.  The team will have a relatively gentle start to the season, with the first two matches against Norwich City and Burnley, but pressure will ramp up thereafter with fixtures against Chelsea, Leeds and Crystal Palace.  

Chelsea will be confident about their chances to win the League in the forthcoming season and that positivity is well-deserved.  The Blues beat Man City 1-0 in their  FA Cup semi-final encounter on 17 April, and beat them again 2-1 in a League match in early May.  Chelsea then scored a hat-trick by defeating Manchester City 1-0 in the UEFA Champions League final.  Newly appointed manager, Thomas Tuchel, has propelled his players forward since his arrival in January as replacement for Frank Lampard, and after the historic Champions League win he said “The level is now set. When the celebrations are over and when we have digested this experience, it is the moment to evolve and to use it, to become better, to learn. It is absolutely crucial. We have young players, now it is a big challenge to stay hungry and go for the next one.”  

Chelsea have not been genuine contenders for the Premier League trophy for four seasons now and owner Roman Abramovich is keen to support Tuchel in the transfer market this summer.  Norwegian striker Erling Haaland is on Tuchel’s radar, along with Achraf Hakimi and Declan Rice.  Bookmaker Paddy Power offers odds of 5/1 that Chelsea will win the Premier League, placing the Blues second in the pecking order behind Manchester City. Before the season starts, Chelsea will play Villareal (winners of the UEFA Europa League) in the UEFA Super Cup on 11 August. Then a challenging start to the season includes matches against Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Spurs and Manchester City.

The dates detailed in the fixture list for the season are likely to shift once the broadcasting selections are made, with the outcomes for the August and September fixtures due to be announced in early July.  The provisional opening round of fixtures for the weekend of 14 and 15 August is as follows:

  • Brentford vs Arsenal
  • Burnley vs Brighton
  • Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
  • Everton vs Southampton
  • Leicester City vs Wolverhampton
  • Manchester United vs Leeds United
  • Newcastle United vs West Ham United
  • Norwich City vs Liverpool
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City
  • Watford vs Aston Villa

Looking further ahead to the spectacular day of football on Boxing Day, 26 December, fans can enjoy the following matches:

  • Aston Villa vs Chelsea
  • Brighton vs Brentford
  • Burnley vs Everton
  • Liverpool vs Leeds United
  • Manchester City vs Leicester City
  • Newcastle United vs Manchester United
  • Norwich City vs Arsenal
  • Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace
  • West Ham United vs Southampton
  • Wolverhampton vs Watford

The end-of-season matches are often vitally important, deciding which teams grab a Top-4 finish thereby securing entry to the Champions League and which three teams will suffer relegation to the Championship.  Matches on the final day of the 2021/22 season, on 22 May 2022,  are:

  • Arsenal vs Everton
  • Brentford vs Leeds United
  • Brighton vs West Ham United
  • Burnley vs Newcastle United
  • Chelsea vs Watford
  • Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
  • Leicester City vs Southampton
  • Liverpool vs Wolverhampton
  • Manchester City vs Aston Villa
  • Norwich City vs Tottenham Hotspur

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