EPL

Premier League opening weekend: Who has the toughest start?

By Sports Desk June 18, 2024

The Premier League fixtures were announced on Tuesday, with the new season now just under two months away.

Holders Manchester City, chasing a fifth consecutive Premier League title, have a tough opener against Chelsea, now managed by Enzo Maresca, at Stamford Bridge on August 18.

City have won their opening fixture in 12 of the last 13 seasons, though the only exception was a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham in 2021-22.

Meanwhile, Chelsea will begin a top-flight season against the reigning champions for the first time in 53 years, losing to Arsenal in their last such fixture in 1971 (3-0).

Manchester United and Fulham will kick off the season at Old Trafford on August 16, with the Red Devils becoming the first Premier League side in history to start eight consecutive seasons on home soil.

Brentford and West Ham are tipped to have the toughest starts, with their opponents' average rating at 89.6 on Opta's team rating scale – both sides face Pep Guardiola's side in their opening five matches.

Arsenal and Ipswich Town sit joint-third behind them, with their first five fixtures averaging at 88.7.

After narrowly missing out to City in the title race in the last two seasons, Arsenal begin their campaign at home to Wolves but face tricky tests against Aston Villa, Tottenham and the Citizens in the following weeks.

Ipswich begin their first Premier League campaign for 22 years against the side they ended their last one against. They will travel to Anfield for Arne Slot's first match in charge of Liverpool, before hosting the reigning champions a week later.

The Reds show as having the easiest opening of the 20 sides, with an average opponent rating of 83.7, with a trip to Old Trafford against rivals United the most notable match in their first five fixtures.

Southampton's return to the top-flight comes at St. James' Park, but among teams to have played in 10 or more Premier League seasons, the Saints have the lowest win ratio (8 per cent), having won just two of their 24 games (D10 L12).

Everton will kick off their final season at Goodison Park at home against Brighton – the Toffees have started the last two campaigns with defeats on home soil against Chelsea and Fulham, and have not lost three in a row since a run of four between 2008-09 and 2011-12.

The opening weekend will be rounded off by Tottenham's trip to the other promoted side, Leicester City, who will be hoping to continue their unbeaten run when starting a league campaign at home (they have won six and drawn three of the previous nine).

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