The dust has just about settled on the 2020 Premier League campaign, and we’re off again! England’s top-flight kicks off in three weeks time and there are some mouthwatering clashes to look forward to.
Here at SBOTOP, we’ve picked the match of the week over the first five rounds, starting on the second weekend in September which features the clubs we expect to battle it out at the top and throwing in a fascinating derby.
These are strange times as games were played behind closed doors, but there was plenty of drama on the final day of last season, with Manchester United and Chelsea squeezing Leicester City out of the Champions League places, and Aston Villa escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth.
Hopefully there will be fans in the stadiums again before too long. Discussions are underway to allow a limited number of supporters to watch their teams, approximately 25-per cent of ground capacity.
October 3rd is the earliest possible date so we’ll watch this space.
Liverpool vs Leeds United 12th September
This is a match to capture the imagination, particularly for older fans who remember the last time Leeds United played in the top flight some 16 years ago.
Liverpool and Leeds have had some blood-curdling battles in the past and the underdogs from Yorkshire will draw on everything they have to show they deserve to be back in the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side couldn’t have a tougher test to open up with, away to the reigning champions, and Jurgen Klopp will be determined to prove that his side can beat Manchester City to the title again.
It’s a game that Leeds right wing back Luke Ayling will relish, to come up against the pace of his opposite number Andy Robertson.
Chelsea vs Liverpool 19th September
The big games come thick and fast for the Reds as they head to West London the following week to take on Frank Lampard’s Chelsea.
The former Blues playing legend had a great opening season as head coach, guiding his young team to a Champions League spot as well as making it to the FA Cup final where they were unlucky to lose to Arsenal in a hot-blooded clash.
Liverpool’s front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been the most frightening attack in world football over the past two seasons with a combination of pace, power and incredible skill. But they could have a serious challenge from the Blues this season.
Lampard has signed the prolific Timo Werner to play alongside Christian Pulisic. And if he can add Bayer Leverkusen skipper Kai Havertz to that front line, they will be the three to watch over the next couple of campaigns.
Manchester City vs Leicester City 26th September
Well, what can we say about the Sky Blues? Still the best side in the league in many neutrals’ eyes, Manchester City had something of a shocker last season.
They surrendered the Premier League to Liverpool and Pep Guardiola’s Champions League campaign was abruptly ended by Lyon, who stunned the favourites with a 3-1 win at the Etihad.
The preseason Premier League 2020 betting odds have Pep’s side as strong favourites to take the title back to the Etihad, but they can’t afford to drop points as easily as they did last term, losing an early fixture to bottom club Norwich City.
David Silva has gone, but in Kevin de Bruyne they have arguably the best creative midfielder in the league.
The Foxes were unlucky to miss out on Champions League football and I think this could be a difficult season for them.
Striker Jamie Vardy isn’t getting any younger, while wing-back Ben Chilwell looks like he’s on his way to Chelsea. But in Brendan Rodgers, Leicester have an excellent manager so I’m not writing them off.
Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur 3rd October
It’s just possible that fans may be in Old Trafford to watch this clash of two teams who will be in the top-four race in the coming campaign.
Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows the Red Devils need to strengthen over the next couple of weeks if they are to continue the progress made this term, but he has an unwelcome headache with the wrong sort of Premier League 2020 news made by centre-back Harry Maguire, who was arrested while on holiday in Greece.
Meanwhile, former United boss Jose Mourinho has a job to lift the Whites to greater heights after they struggled to challenge last season. As always, much will rest on the shoulders of England captain Harry Kane.
Crystal Palace vs Brighton & Hove Albion 17th October
While they aren’t exactly neighbours, fans of London-based Palace and south coast Brighton mark this game down as their derby.
The Eagles are as close as anyone for the Seagulls, so both sides will be looking for the bragging rights here.
The wily Roy Hodgson will make things difficult for his opposite number, Graham Potter.
The young Seagulls boss inspired his side to play attractive football last season but they nearly came unstuck as one of the teams in a six way relegation battle.
The Eagles were always safe but ended the season on a dreadful run and there was some speculation around Hodsgon’s future.
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