England handed World Cup boost as Premier League answer ‘Big Six’ plea


rsenal kick off the Premier League season at Crystal Palace with a Friday night London derby for the second year in a row, while Chelsea begin the Todd Boehly era at Frank Lampard’s Everton.

The fixtures for the new campaign were released this morning, with Manchester City starting their title defence at last season’s Europa League semi-finalists West Ham, as Fulham mark their return to the top flight with the daunting visit of Liverpool.

Tottenham host Southampton, while Erik ten Hag’s first competitive game in charge of Manchester United will see Brighton go to Old Trafford and Brentford start their second season in the Premier League at Leicester.

Elsewhere, there is some much-needed good news for Gareth Southgate, whose pleas to avoid clashes between the ‘big six’ on the final weekend before the season breaks for the World Cup in mid-November have been heard.

Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at newly-promoted Brentford on opening night last term and face a similar challenge as they travel to Selhurst Park for an 8pm kick-off on Friday, August 5. The Eagles, managed by Gunners great Patrick Vieira, won the corresponding fixture 3-0 in April, the first of three successive League defeats that cost Mikel Arteta’s side dear in the top-four race.

Chelsea’s first match under new American owner Boehly, whose £4.25billion takeover from Roman Abramovich was completed last month, also sees them reunited with a club legend in Lampard, whose Everton side narrowly avoided the drop last term, and is scheduled for a 5.30pm kick-off on Saturday, August 6.

Fulham’s lunchtime kick-off against Liverpool on the same day will also be televised, as will City’s trip to the London Stadium at 4.30pm on Sunday, August 7, a game in which Erling Haaland could make his Premier League debut.

Exact dates and kick-off times have only been confirmed for the opening weekend, with the rest subject to change as a result of broadcast selections and clashes with cup competitions.

Chelsea face Spurs on the second weekend, while Ten Hag’s second home game comes against Liverpool the following weekend, on August 20.

The first north London derby is at the Emirates on the weekend of October 1, the same date as the campaign’s first Manchester derby at the Etihad. The two reverse fixtures also share the same weekend in the calendar, January 14.

Last season’s top two, City and Liverpool, meet at Anfield on October 15 and then again at the Etihad on April 1, while Pep Guardiola’s side host Chelsea on the penultimate weekend, by which time Thomas Tuchel will be hoping his side are still in the title race.

Gareth Southgate and the FA have had their ‘Big Six’ request granted by the Premier League

/ PA

Palace have been handed one of the toughest starts. As well as their opener against Arsenal, they face Liverpool and City before the end of August, while Brentford have a nightmare run-in, facing Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham, Chelsea and City in five of their last six games.

Nottingham Forest’s first top-flight match since 1999 is at Newcastle, with fellow newcomers Bournemouth at home to Aston Villa.

The Premier League will run until the weekend of November 12, when the season will pause for the World Cup, which begins in Qatar on November 21. England start their campaign against Iran that day and Southgate will be relieved that his request over the final round of fixtures has been heard.

The Premier League resumes on Boxing Day and teams are then scheduled to be in action three times over the festive period, down from the usual four, with further games on New Year’s Eve and January 2.

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