Ci­tyzens to start ti­tle de­fence at Ar­se­nal

Afro Voice (KwaZulu Natal) - - Sport -

PREMIER League cham­pi­ons Manch­ester City will be­gin their ti­tle de­fence away to Ar­se­nal on the week­end of Au­gust 11-12, the English Premier League an­nounced yes­ter­day as it un­veiled the fixtures for the 2018-19 sea­son.

The match will also be new Ar­se­nal man­ager Unai Emery’s first in English foot­ball’s top flight.

The ex­act date of the game will be con­firmed when TV broad­cast­ing sched­ules are drawn up.

City amassed 100 points and scored 106 goals while fin­ish­ing 19 points clear of sec­ond-placed Manch­ester United in the 2017-18 sea­son.

Fol­low­ing the Ar­se­nal game, City do not face an­other top-six team un­til they are away to Liver­pool, who beat Pep Guardi­ola’s men in the quar­ter- fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League last sea­son, in Oc­to­ber.

In be­tween those two eye-catch­ing fixtures, City will play the new­lypro­moted trio of Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers, Cardiff City and Ful­ham, as well as last year’s pro­moted teams Hud­der­s­field, New­cas­tle and Brighton.

Manch­ester United be­gin their league cam­paign at home to Le­ices­ter City and face a po­ten­tially tricky en­counter in their third game when Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur come to Old Traf­ford.

Jose Mour­inho’s side face Brighton and Hove Al­bion, Burn­ley, Wat­ford and Wolves in other early sea­son games.

Liver­pool, the los­ing Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal­ists, ap­pear to have he tough­est start of any of the likely ti­tle con­tenders.

They be­gin their Premier League sea­son at home to West Ham be­fore fac­ing Crys­tal Palace, Brighton and Le­ices­ter.

Tot­ten­ham have un­til Fri­day to de­cide if they will still be play­ing home games at Wem­b­ley this sea­son.

Spurs made the jour­ney across north Lon­don to the na­tional sta­dium last term while their suc­ces­sor ground to White Hart Lane was be­ing built.

That work has still to be com­pleted, with Premier League chiefs giv­ing Spurs an away start at New­cas­tle.

Ar­se­nal have a tough start un­der new Span­ish boss Emery, who has the daunt­ing task of suc­ceed­ing the long-serv­ing Arsene Wenger, with the Gun­ners away to Chelsea af­ter fac­ing Manch­ester City

Chelsea be­gin the league cam- paign away to Hud­der­s­field and, af­ter their all-Lon­don clash against Ar­se­nal, face New­cas­tle, Bournemouth, Cardiff, West Ham, Liver­pool and Southamp­ton.

None of the pro­moted sides have been given a hor­ror run of games against lead­ing clubs at the start of the sea­son, although they will each face at least one of the big six in their open­ing four fixtures.

Cham­pi­onship win­ners Wolves be­gin their re­turn to the Premier League at home to Ever­ton be­fore matches away to Le­ices­ter and West Ham book­end the visit of Manch­ester City to Mo­lineux.

Cardiff start at Bournemouth while Ful­ham, who se­cured their place in the top flight via a Wem­b­ley play­off fi­nal win over As­ton Villa, start the league sea­son at home to Crys­tal Palace. – AFP

PIC­TURE: GETTY IMAGES

NO EASY RIDE: New Ar­se­nal head coach Unai Emery looks set for a dif­fi­cult start to life at his new club.

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