|Tottenham to beat Manchester City||41/10 with 888 Sport|
|Liverpool to beat Norwich||4/13 with MansionBet|
Manchester City start their Premier League title defence on August 15 with a trip to Tottenham in what is arguably the best game of the opening weekend.
After leading England to the final of the European Championships, all eyes will be on Harry Kane and whether he will still be a Spurs player or will he have been persuaded to join Pep Guardiola’s team as they look to win back-to-back titles. If Kane does make the Etihad his new home, he will be the fourth City player to be involved in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy on penalties along with defenders Kyle Walker and John Stones and forward Raheem Sterling.
Kane and Sterling combined to score seven of England’s 11 goals during the summer and their partnership for City could potentially deliver more Premier League titles in the coming seasons. However, having four players involved in the final on July 11 could have an impact on how the champions begin their defence in north London on August 15.
Before winning the title last season, City were afforded an extra week to recover from reaching the Champions League quarter-finals and began their campaign a week late. When they did get up and running, Guardiola’s side struggled and picked up three wins from their first eight matches.
Tough Start for Champions
Based on last season’s final league positions, City have the seventh toughest start over their opening six games with Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea all following in quick succession after their opening day trip to Tottenham.
A trip to Spurs is perhaps not the fixture Guardiola wanted to start his season and if the defending champions are slow to begin, Tottenham will hope they can capitalise. Nuno Espirito Santo would dearly love to begin his tenure as Spurs boss with a win and they are 41/10 with 888 Sport to beat the champions.
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Grealish to be Guardiola's Guy?
Jack Grealish is another player City have been linked with after coming off the bench in the final against Italy and if the champions get their wish, he could make his City debut at Spurs. Despite a slow start last season, Guardiola’s side recovered to win 15 successive games from December 19 through to March 2 to finish 12 points clear of Manchester United.
The Red Devils also had four players on England duty last month and that could slow United’s start this season. Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, who gave the Three Lions a third minute lead against the Azzurri, started the fixture while Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were introduced in the final minute of extra-time specifically to take penalties, which were both saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.
United’s opening six games are slightly more favourable than City's with West Ham the only opponent that finished eighth or higher last season. After opening at home to Leeds, United play Southampton, Wolves and Newcastle with Aston Villa completing the opening six games.
Top Six Most Difficult Opening Fixtures:
- 7.3 - Chelsea
- 7.3 - Southampton
- 7.7 - Norwich
- 8.3 - Leeds
- 8.5 - Burnley
- 9.3 - Crystal Palace
Chelsea, who won last season's Champions League, have the joint toughest start with Southampton based on their first six opponents' finishing position last season. Thomas Tuchel’s side face Liverpool, Arsenal and the champions City before the end of September. Blues midfielders Mason Mount and Jorginho faced each other in the Euros final which could have an affect on the start Chelsea make to their Premier League campaign.
If City, United and Chelsea start slowly, Liverpool will be looking to capitalise on their favourable start which is ranked fourth easiest. Jordan Henderson was the only Liverpool player to be named in Gareth Southgate’s squad this summer, and he managed to play the final 46 minutes of the Wembley final.
Top Six Easiest Opening Fixtures:
- 11.3 - Wolves
- 11.8 - Leicester
- 13.7 - Liverpool
- 14.2 - Brighton
- 14.2 - Watford
- 14.3 - Everton
Reds Ready to Pounce
Jurgen Klopp will have Virgil van Dijk back at the heart of his side’s defence and the Reds will expect to pick up maximum points from games against Burnley, Crystal Palace and newly promoted Norwich and Brentford. Chelsea and Leeds offer the biggest challenge to the Reds who finish third after beating Crystal Palace 2-0 on the final day of last season.
Liverpool beat Leeds 4-3 in their season opener last season and they will hope to get off to another winning start this time. For the second time in three seasons, they will open their campaign against Norwich following their promotion and Liverpool are 4/13 with Mansion Bet to beat the Canaries.
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The fixture computer has been very kind to Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours with Everton avoiding all the clubs that finished eighth or higher last season. Rafa Benitez, who won the Champions League with rivals Liverpool, will hope to get off to a good start in their opening six fixtures and win over those Toffees’ supporters who have an issue with Benitez’s managerial past.
Newly promoted Watford will fancy their chances of registering their first win of the season early on after avoiding last season’s top six teams. A trip to Tottenham in their second away game of the season is the highest placed team they will face from last season.