Premier League Preview - Matchday 7Sep 29
Seven weeks after the longest Premier League season ever finally finished, the 2020/21 campaign commences with eight matches across the opening weekend.
Every one of the games – Manchester City and Manchester United’s fixtures have been postponed due to both club’s European campaigns running until mid-August - is available to watch on BT TV either on BT Sport or with the NOW TV Sky Sports Pass.
Here btsport.com breaks down how to watch every Matchday 1 fixture and provides individual game previews, starting with the season opener between Fulham and Arsenal, which will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport.
Saturday 12 September
The 2020/21 season kicks off with a London derby as Arsenal travel to newly-promoted Fulham looking to build on the momentum of their FA Cup and Community Shield successes.
The Gunners secured some encouraging results towards the end of last season with an FA Cup semi-final win over Man City before defeating Chelsea in the final.
And Mikel Arteta’s men overcame concerns over a lack of match fitness to see off Premier League champions Liverpool on penalties in the traditional curtain-raiser a fortnight ago.
Now Arsenal must prove they can do it against the so-called smaller teams as they take on a Fulham side who went up via the Championship play-offs just five weeks ago.
Scott Parker’s men will be keen to learn from the lessons of their painful top-flight relegation in 2018/19 but face a difficult task against an Arsenal side who ran out 5-1 winners on their last visit to Craven Cottage.
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Crystal Palace v Southampton - 3pm on BT Sport 1 HD, Ultimate, btsport.com, BT Sport app
The 3pm blackout is on hiatus once again as BT Sport hosts exclusive coverage of Southampton’s trip to Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace endured a disastrous end to last season with one point from their final eight Premier League games. Fortunately Roy Hodgson’s men's impressive pre-lockdown form meant they still finished nine clear of the drop in 14th.
Hodgson was openly critical of Wilfried Zaha’s performance levels last campaign, suggesting Palace’s star man failed to get over his disappointment at not moving on in pre-season.
Zaha, still a Palace player, must pick himself up quickly if The Eagles are to have any hope of building on last season.
The Saints, meanwhile, endured something of an inverse campaign to Palace’s, with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men appearing in dire straits following a 9-0 thrashing at home to Leicester in October.
However, the Austrian turned things around with the help of red-hot Danny Ings and the visitors appear very much a team on the up as they make the trip north to south-east London.
Liverpool v Leeds United - 5.30pm NOW TV on BT TV
Leeds are back in the big time, ending their 16-year wait for a return to the top flight, and it’s a box office tie to kick things off as Marcelo Bielsa’s men visit the home of the defending champions Liverpool.
Bielsa’s men blitzed the Championship with the Argentine’s brand of Murderball as they stormed back as winners of the second tier.
Yet they face a daunting prospect in heading to Anfield in their first match of the new season, to take on Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering Reds.
Liverpool have not done a huge amount in the transfer market so far. But when you finish on 99 points what really needs to be changed?
Sparks will surely fly on Merseyside as Leeds look for their first win over Liverpool in 19 years – the only shame is there won’t be supporters in attendance.
West Ham United v Newcastle United - 8pm NOW TV on BT TV
Saturday’s fourth and final match sees two clubs who’ve endured summers of discontent go head-to-head.
The Hammers’ hierarchy came under fire from their captain, no less, when Mark Noble hit out on Twitter at the sale of young winger Grady Diangana to West Brom, where he spent last campaign on loan.
It means West Ham start the season on a typically uneven footing after narrowly staving off relegation fears under David Moyes in his second spell with the club.
Newcastle, meanwhile, suffered disappointment when their proposed Saudi Arabian takeover fell through despite Mike Ashley’s apparent willingness to sell.
It means the Magpies have been brought back down to earth with their transfer targets, but Steve Bruce has still been able to strengthen his side this window.
The arrivals of Jamal Lewis, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser suggest Ashley has loosened the purse strings for Bruce with some experienced Premier League performers brought in.
Newcastle outdid expectations last season with a 13th-placed finish but the statistics suggest they collected more points than their play merited. Bruce will be wary of his side getting found out as they travel to the London Stadium on Saturday evening.
Sunday 13 September
West Brom v Leicester City - 2pm NOW TV on BT TV
West Brom visit Leicester City in the first of two matches this Sunday, as the newly-promoted Baggies host a Foxes side who endured an underwhelming end to the 2019/20 campaign.
Brendan Rodgers’ men looked set to challenge Liverpool for the Premier League title at one point but limped over the finishing line, sacrificing their top-four spot in the process and missing out on Champions League qualification.
Rodgers will be desperate to ensure their end-of-season form was just a blip and he will again turn to Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy to do the business in the Black Country.
It signals a return to the top flight for former West Ham boss Slaven Bilic too. The Croatian has done an impressive job at The Hawthorns and turned West Brom into an exciting attacking team.
And the hosts have moved to secure much of what made them so successful going forward in the Championship.
The trio of loans-made-permanent signings of Grady Diangana, Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson will ensure excitement for supporters even if there still needs to be work done to improve their defence.
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Tottenham v Everton - 4.30pm NOW TV on BT TV
Tottenham v Everton brings with it a clash of two vintage Champions League managers – Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti. Only this time, both coaches will not be working at Europe’s top table.
Mourinho’s men, and specifically Mourinho, have been the star of their own drama this summer. But the Portuguese will be keen to steer the narrative back to results on the pitch with a win over Everton.
The addition of Matt Doherty from Wolves looks to be a smart one but Tottenham still have work to do if they are to get back into the top four this season.
Everton, as always, are dreaming of bigger things themselves. Ancelotti’s arrival did provide the side with more structure and a clear way of playing that they were lacking under Marco Silva.
An exciting set of additions in the off-season is headlined by the arrival of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid on a permanent deal. The Colombian worked with Ancelotti at the La Liga champions and Bayern Munich with varying degrees of success.
Yet he remains a marquee purchase for Everton and Toffees supporters will hope he can get his career on Merseyside off to a flyer by putting Spurs to the sword.
Monday 14 September
Sheffield United v Wolves - 6pm NOW TV on BT TV
While Manchester United and Manchester City have been handed a week off, Wolves are in action despite playing in a Europa League quarter-final four days before City's Champions League last-eight loss to Lyon and five before United's semi-final defeat to Sevilla.
Their match has been pushed back to the Monday evening but Nuno Espirito Santo will still no doubt have concerns over his players’ fitness heading to Bramall Lane.
Santo called for Wolves to expand their squad this summer and got his wish with four signings to counter-balance Doherty’s departure. The most eye-catching of all saw 18-year-old Portuguese forward Fabio Silva join in a £35 million club-record deal.
Monday may come too soon for Silva, so Santo could well turn to his most trusted lieutenant Raul Jimenez to do the job in Sheffield.
Chris Wilder’s Blades were undoubtedly the surprise package of last season as they occupied the European places for much of the campaign, before eventually slipping to ninth.
Second-season syndrome always seems to afflict newly-promoted teams who achieve success but Wilder is the sort of coach who you feel will stamp any complacency out.
A well-drilled United side will be a tough test for Santo’s Wolves in what could be one of the games of the weekend.
Brighton v Chelsea - 8pm NOW TV on BT TV
The eighth and final fixture sees another side involved in European action as Chelsea – eliminated from the Champions League at the last-16 stage by eventual winners Bayern Munich - take on Graham Potter’s Brighton.
A lot has been made of what appears a sensational summer of transfer business on paper for Chelsea. The Blues have brought in Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Malang Sarr, Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell in a big statement of intent from Roman Abramovich’s men.
Now the pressure is on Frank Lampard to find the right formula and bridge the gap between Chelsea and the top two. Last season the club legend had a transfer ban to contend with. This season, after being backed to this extent in the summer, there are no excuses.
They travel to the south coast to face a Brighton side without Ziyech, Silva and Chilwell, with the trio short of fitness ahead of the Premier League opener.
Brighton, who held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw in pre-season at The Amex, made two eye-catching purchases this summer with the arrivals of Adam Lallana from Liverpool and Dutch international Joel Veltman from Ajax.
The Seagulls enjoyed a steady campaign last time out and comfortably avoided the drop but Potter will be keen to see them take further steps towards establishing themselves this season. A win over Chelsea would be some start.