Manchester City and Liverpool handed contrasting run-ins to 2019/20 Premier League season

Tottenham given tough start; Chelsea and Arsenal tricky Christmas periods; Manchester United have early tests

James Milner and Leroy Sane battle for possession during Manchester City vs Liverpool
Image: James Milner and Leroy Sane battle for possession during Manchester City vs Liverpool

From favourable finales to tricky Christmas periods and tough starts, we take a look at the stories from the Premier League fixtures announcement for the top six and the newly-promoted clubs...

Man City's favourable finish

Manchester City won their final 14 games of the 2018/19 Premier League season to clinch the title - and they'll be confident of a strong finish again this time around with a favourable final six fixtures. They finish off with Southampton (a), Newcastle (h), Brighton (a), Bournemouth (h), Watford (a), Norwich (h). But a 36-day period just before then will be crucial...

Sergio Aguero squeezes the ball over the line for his hat-trick
Image: Man City's home game with Arsenal on February 29 kicks off a tough run

City face Arsenal (h, February 29), Manchester United (a, March 7), Burnley (h, March 14), Chelsea (a, March 21) and then last season's title rivals Liverpool (h, April 4) in a thrilling spell, when they could also be impacted by Champions League and FA Cup ties.

Liverpool's tough run-in

Liverpool's title ambitions will be tested as early as October, when a run of Leicester (h), Manchester United (a) and Tottenham (h) coincides with Champions League group games, while all eyes will be on Anfield on November 9 when they host Manchester City.

Sadio Mane and Cesar Azpilicueta
Image: Liverpool host Chelsea on the penultimate weekend

But Liverpool's season could be decided during an unenviable May, which sees them travel to Arsenal (May 2), host Chelsea (May 9) and then face Newcastle (May 17) on the final day of the season at St James' Park.

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Chelsea's decisive winter run

Chelsea travel to Old Trafford for a mouth-watering Super Sunday opener against Manchester United, in what could be the start of a new era at the club should Maurizio Sarri depart and the favourite to replace him, Frank Lampard, take the helm.

But ultimately Chelsea's season could be shaped in the depths of winter. They have three tough away games in December - Everton (7th), Tottenham (21st), Arsenal (28th) - and then a brutal set of fixtures from late January to late March.

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Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur battles for possession with Andreas Christiansen of Chelsea during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final First Leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium on January 8, 2019 in London, England
Image: Chelsea meet Tottenham during a difficult winter spell

They'll hope to be in the Champions League knockout stages at that point, but domestically will face off against Arsenal (h), Leicester (a), Manchester United (h), Tottenham (h), Bournemouth (a), Everton (h), Aston Villa (a) and Manchester City (h) from January 22 through to March 21.

Tottenham's tricky start

After reaching the Champions League final on June 1, Tottenham have a shorter summer than most - but they will have to come back ready to hit the ground running at the start of next season. Mauricio Pochettino's men have been handed a tricky set of early fixtures.

Harry Kane equalises from the penalty spot
Image: Tottenham travel to Arsenal on August 31

They'll be big favourites to beat Aston Villa at home on the opening weekend - although their buoyant visitors will be fired up on their Premier League return - but they then face a trip to defending champions Manchester City (August 17), a home game with Newcastle (August 24) then a north London derby at the Emirates on August 31.

They'll have played the rest of the big six away from home - with the exception of Chelsea - by early December.

Arsenal's crunch Christmas

Unai Emery's first season in charge of Arsenal came unstuck over the festive period last year and he and his side will have to show they've learned the lessons from that spell when they enter a tough run around Christmas 2019, too.

Zouma helped Everton to a third consecutive clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Arsenal
Image: Everton feature in a tough festive period of fixtures for Arsenal

Manchester City visit on December 14, kicking off a fierce run of fixtures which include Everton (a, December 21), Bournemouth (a, December 26), Chelsea (h, December 28) and Manchester United (h, January 1)

Will Manchester United build momentum?

Manchester United kick off their new season at home to Chelsea but even an opening weekend win may be tricky to back-up, with some stern tests coming in September and October, sandwiched between Europa League group stage games.

Luke Shaw defends against Mohamed Salah at Old Trafford
Image: Will Manchester United be able to get the better of old rivals Liverpool?

They host Arsenal on September 28, travel to Newcastle on October 5 and face arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on October 19, while Europa League group games are scheduled for September 19, October 3 and October 24 during that period.

Norwich's brutal start

Championship winners Norwich will have spent the summer dreaming of the big games and they have plenty in the opening weeks of the season, with a trip to Liverpool first up, followed by Newcastle (h), Chelsea (h), West Ham (a) and Manchester City (h).

Norwich will be back in the Premier League next season
Image: Norwich are looking forward to life in the Premier League

They travel to Manchester City on the final day of the season, too, when they'll hope to be looking forward to more big clashes to come in 2020/21...

Aston Villa's double run

Aston Villa's home and away fixtures with Midlands rivals Wolves will have the fans fired up but both of those two match-ups come amid some testing fixtures for Dean Smith's side.

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish (left), Jed Steer and Mile Jedinak celebrate victory during the Sky Bet Championship, Play-Off, Second Leg match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 14, 2019. See PA story West Brom. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Image: Aston Villa face tough tests around matches with Midlands rivals Wolves

Their trip to Wolves on November 9 will be preceded by matches against last season's top two, with Manchester City hosting Villa on October 26 before they take on Liverpool on November 2. Villa then travel to Anfield on April 11, seven days after their home game with Wolves, and follow that Liverpool test with a clash with Manchester United at Villa Park on April 18.

Sheffield United's Christmas hangover?

Newly promoted Sheffield United won't be able to drop the intensity after the Christmas festivities - they have a tough run at the turn of the year, including two matches against defending champions Manchester City.

Scott Hogan celebrates scoring the opening goal of the game between Sheffield United and Ipswich
Image: Will Sheffield United still be smiling into the New Year?

They travel to the Etihad on December 28, follow that up with a trip to Liverpool on New Year's Day, face West Ham at home (January 1), Arsenal away (January 18) and then meet City again at Bramall Lane on January 21.

Winter break

For the first time this season the Premier League will have a mid-season player break. Five matches will be played on February 8 and the other five on February 15.

That split will be announced in December when the broadcast picks are confirmed. But these are the games scheduled for that period - the games are a reverse of the opening day of the season:

Arsenal vs Newcastle, Aston Villa vs Tottenham, Brighton vs Watford, Chelsea vs Manchester United, Everton vs Crystal Palace, Manchester City vs West Ham, Norwich vs Liverpool, Sheffield United vs Bournemouth, Southampton vs Burnley, Wolves vs Leicester.

The key dates of the Premier League 2019/20 season

The new season is scheduled to start on Friday August 9 and will conclude on Sunday May 17.

Meanwhile, the Community Shield between Manchester City and Liverpool will take place on Sunday August 4.

The Champions League final will be played in Istanbul on May 30 - two weeks before the start of Euro 2020 on June 12.

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