Erik ten Hag will have a major early test of his talents when Manchester United hosts Liverpool at Old Trafford in only his third game as United’s manager.
The new United boss won’t get off to an easy start based on the new Premier League schedule which was revealed on Thursday morning, ahead of what promises to be a memorable campaign, with the first-ever winter World Cup set to take place in Qatar in November and December.
After games against Brighton at home and Brentford away, United will play Liverpool at Old Trafford on August 20 for the first time since Jurgen Klopp’s side humiliated United 5-0 in a game that signaled the beginning of the end for Ten Hag’s predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United were also blasted 4-0 by Liverpool at Anfield in April, which means that Erik ten Hag would be anxious to show United fans a very different team this time.
On the other hand, Crystal Palace will host Arsenal at Selhurst Park on Friday, August 5 to kick off the season. While Manchester City will begin their Premier League title defense against West Ham United two days later.
Last month, City pipped Liverpool to the title by a point for the second time in four seasons, and the two finest teams in the country will meet again at Anfield on October 15. The second leg will take place on April 1 at the Etihad Stadium, with the rest of the Premier League facing a tremendous struggle to keep up with City and Liverpool.
Nottingham Forest, who won the Championship play-offs last season, will return to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years on August 6 when they go to Newcastle.
The Premier League season will be suspended for the first time following the November 12 round of fixtures, with many players flying to Qatar to compete in the World Cup finals.
Following a request by England manager Gareth Southgate, there will be no so-called “big six” fixtures on that weekend as the Three Lions attempt to win the World Cup for the first time since 1966.
The Premier League will resume on December 26, with United hosting Forest, City visiting Leeds, and Liverpool visiting Aston Villa, but there will be no games between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, as disclosed by Telegraph Sport this week. It’s yet another deviation from precedent in what is shaping up to be a unique season.
Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, clubs are scheduled to play three games, the most important of which is probably City’s trip to Chelsea on January 2.
On May 20, City will host Chelsea in their penultimate league game at home, while Liverpool will host Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa. On the final day, both teams are on the road, with City visiting Brentford and Liverpool visiting Southampton. Liverpool will face Tottenham Hotspur on April 29 in a rematch of the game that cost them the title last season when the teams drew 1-1 at Anfield.
When Fulham travels to Liverpool on August 6, they will have a difficult start in the Premier League. On the first weekend, Bournemouth, a newly promoted club, will host Villa.
On October 1, Arsenal will host Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in the first North London derby of the season, kicking off a tumultuous October for Mikel Arteta’s team. The next week, Arsenal will host Liverpool at home before traveling to Leeds and then host City on October 18.
Early Huge Test for Erik ten Hag
Even though Manchester United are making all the right words about giving their new manager time, there’s no doubt that the Dutchman will want and need a strong start.
Following the opener against Brighton, the new era continues with an away fixture against Brentford before, gulp, an away meeting versus arch-rivals Liverpool.
Man United’s 5-0 and 4-0 defeats to Liverpool stand out in a season marked by failure. It will not be necessary to tell Ten Hag that a solid outcome on August 8 is required.