The Premier League season ended little over a month ago and the European football campaign will only conclude this Sunday with the Champions League final. But the drums for the next 2020-21 Premier League season has already beaten.
Some of the teams are already in pre-season preparation mood and the Premier League fixtures list was out on Thursday.
While the broadcasters will move fixtures around and not every team will play a 3 pm kick-off on Saturday as mentioned in the list, it still provides a window to what could happen next season in England’s top flight.
Leeds United, West Brom and Fulham are back in the division and their fans are getting a taste of what it feels to be a fan of a Premier League team again.
But the focus will be on the traditional top six – Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham – and how their seasons could shape up given the fixtures list, we have in front of us at the moment.
And no, we won’t be predicting the league table at this stage of the year.
The reigning Premier League champions will start their title defence with a mouth-watering clash against newly-promoted Leeds United at Anfield.
They have been handed a difficult start to their campaign as they will travel to Chelsea in their second game before welcoming Arsenal to Anfield. The first Merseyside derby also comes around quickly mid-October.
Their first clash against fellow Premier League title contenders Manchester City comes in the first game of November. Liverpool will face arch-rivals Manchester United in January and May.
A home game against West Brom awaits them on Boxing Day and their first game in the New Year will be a trip to Southampton. The Reds will end their league campaign with a clash against Crystal Palace at Anfield.
The challenge for Liverpool is to maintain the intensity of the last two seasons and it will be hard to do so as teams often see a drop-off.
They can ill-afford a slow start as they will be facing big games against Chelsea and Arsenal and Leeds on the first day will not be a walk in the park as well given Marcelo Bielsa’s ability to prepare his side for the big games.
However, if they are in a tough title race towards the end of the season, Liverpool would be happy with the run-in.
Manchester City will start their Premier League season a week later due to their Champions League exertions and will take a trip to Wolves on their first day of the campaign.
Then they will host Leicester City at the Etihad in their second game before travelling to Elland Road to take on newly-promoted Leeds United. They’ll also face Arsenal in one of their opening four games.
It won’t be too long before they take on champions Liverpool, who they will be looking to dethrone, and they will face their rivals in the first game of November.
The Manchester derby arrives in mid-December against the Red Devils at Old Trafford with the reverse fixture in March. Newcastle awaits them at home on Boxing Day and they will travel to Chelsea for their first game of 2021. They will end their league campaign with a home again against Everton.
Manchester City dropped many points in the first half of the season, which allowed Liverpool to build a big lead early in the title race. Pep Guardiola will demand that his side take advantage of a relatively easy start to the season and pile on the points early in the campaign.
Guardiola’s side also seem to have a relatively straightforward run-in at the end if they are involved in a close title race.
Like their crosstown rivals, Manchester United will also start their Premier League season a week later due to their European exertions. They will host Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace at Old Trafford in the first game of the campaign.
Manchester United will find themselves on the south coast in the next game when they will take on Graham Potter’s Brighton side at the Amex Stadium but October will be the real test of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
They will host Tottenham in the first game of October before travelling to Newcastle United. They will end the month with two homes against Chelsea and Arsenal respectively. On Boxing Day, they will travel to Leicester City before hosting Aston Villa at home at the start of 2021.
The first Manchester derby of the season is pencilled in to arrive on December 12, when Solskjaer’s men welcome Pep Guardiola and City to Old Trafford.
The Red Devils will also renew their heated rivalry with Leeds with a home game in mid-December. The headline Premier League clash against Liverpool will take place in January.
Solskjaer will hope to build from a third-place finish last season and October will be the first real test of how much his Manchester United have progressed over the summer.
They are not expected to be title contenders but the Red Devils will hope to remain in the conversation in some shape going into the last two months of the season.
Frank Lampard’s side will kick-off their 2020-21 Premier League campaign with a trip to the south coast to face Brighton on Monday, 14th September in an 8 pm kick-off.
However, a big game is next for them when they will host champions Liverpool in the second weekend before travelling to newly-promoted West Brom.
Chelsea have a big December to take care of with London derbies against West Ham at home, 19th, and Arsenal away on Boxing Day. Chelsea will begin the New Year with a tough home against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard’s side will end their Premier League season with an away trip to Aston Villa.
Chelsea have already spent big on Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner and are expected to shell out €90m on Kai Havertz in the coming days and weeks.
Lampard also wants defenders added to his squad and given the level of money they will spend, the Chelsea manager will be under pressure to do more than just finish fourth next season. But there are question marks whether they can be real title contenders to Liverpool and Manchester City.
Tough games in the first half of the season could go on to make or break Lampard’s reign at the club.
Jose Mourinho’s side will begin their Premier League season with a home game against Everton before travelling to Southampton in the next weekend.
Tottenham will face a massive November and December with games against four members of the established ‘Big Six’ elite – Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – in the space of just 24 days.
The north London club want to be back in Champions League contention next season and the winter could make or break their campaign.
Mourinho’s Lilly Whites will end their Premier League season with a trip to the King Power Stadium against Leicester City. The Tottenham boss would want to do more than just widely celebrate Europa League qualification with his coaching staff at the end of next season.
Tottenham have a tricky season ahead of them. They want to be back in the top four but they are likely to be outspent by most of the teams in and around them. Mourinho is facing the challenge of getting the best out of a side that have looked jaded over the last year.
The Gunners will start their Premier League campaign with a couple of London derbies – an away trip to newly-promoted Fulham on the first weekend and a home game against West Ham.
Mikel Arteta’s men have been handed a tricky October period as they face Manchester City, Leicester and Manchester United all in the same month.
Arsenal fans will also mark their calendars down on 5th December and 13th March, the two dates for the North London derby against Tottenham; with the latter being held at the Emirates.
A blockbuster Boxing Day London derby against Chelsea awaits them after Christmas and they will start 2021 with a trip to the Hawthorns to take on West Brom. Arsenal will finish their Premier League campaign with a home against Brighton, the team who did a double over them last season.
Arsenal are set to start a fourth season out of the Champions League and the ongoing crisis has hit them hard financially. It is still unclear how much money they have in their transfer kitty given Arteta’s need to overhaul the squad.
Arsenal want to be back in Europe’s elite club competition and they will have to find a way into it without spending as much as their fellow top-four rivals.