Manch­ester City’s ti­tle de­fence starts at Arse­nal

City be­gin ti­tle de­fence at the Emi­rates while Liver­pool face awk­ward Septem­ber run

The Guardian - - SPORT - Staff and agen­cies

Manch­ester City will start their Premier League ti­tle de­fence at Arse­nal. The 2018-19 fix­tures, an­nounced yes­ter­day, handed Pep Guardi­ola’s record-break­ing team an Emi­rates Sta­dium opener on the week­end of 11-12 Au­gust – a fix­ture that will be Unai Emery’s first com­pet­i­tive match as the Arse­nal man­ager.

City, who amassed 100 points and 106 goals en route to fin­ish­ing 19 points clear of Manch­ester United in 2017-18, do not face an­other side from last sea­son’s top six un­til the trip to Liver­pool in Oc­to­ber. Games against the newly pro­moted trio of Wolves, Cardiff and Ful­ham are part of a se­quence that also in­cludes Hud­der­s­field, New­cas­tle and Brighton – the three teams who came up in 2017.

It is a sim­i­lar story for Manch­ester United, who be­gin at home to Le­ices­ter. The 2017-18 runners-up have Tot­ten­ham at home in their third game, with Brighton, Burn­ley, Wat­ford, Wolves, West Ham and New­cas­tle their other early-sea­son op­po­nents.

Liver­pool start at home to West Ham, be­fore play­ing Crys­tal Palace, Brighton and Le­ices­ter, but Jür­gen Klopp’s side have a stiff re­turn from the first in­ter­na­tional break, fac­ing Tot­ten­ham, Chelsea and Manch­ester City in a run of four games that also in­cludes the visit of Southamp­ton.

Tot­ten­ham start their cam­paign at New­cas­tle for the sec­ond suc­ces­sive year be­fore host­ing Ful­ham at Wem­b­ley on 18 Au­gust. Their new £850m sta­dium at White Hart Lane will not be ready un­til the 15 Septem­ber fix­ture against Liver­pool.

Arse­nal face a tough first two games with­out Arsène Wenger. After host­ing the cham­pi­ons, they are at Chelsea for a Lon­don derby. The Blues, mean­while, travel to Hud­der­s­field on the open­ing day and, after the trip to Arse­nal, face New­cas­tle, Bournemouth and Cardiff.

The pro­moted sides were spared a daunt­ing start to the sea­son – al­though all face one of the top six in their open­ing four matches. The Cham­pi­onship ti­tle winners, Wolves, have a home opener against Ever­ton, be­fore trips to Le­ices­ter and West Ham sand­wich the visit of Manch­ester City to Mo­lineux.

Cardiff start at Bournemouth but soon host Arse­nal, while Ful­ham be­gin at home to Crys­tal Palace, be­fore the trip to Spurs.

It’s West Ham first for Jür­gen Klopp

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