The Nations League finals are over, and the fixture list for the upcoming Premier League season is out; it’s time to get excited about club football once again.
We now have a small insight into how the 2019/20 campaign could play out, with a number of heavyweight matches taking place at critical points in the year.
Could Manchester City have a nightmare just after Christmas? Will Liverpool be derailed in their final home game? Only time will tell.
Given their superiority last term, the ?Citizens and the ?Reds can both be expected to mount another title challenge, though they could certainly be joined by any of their rivals in the ‘Big Six’.
Here’s a look at the key games that will decide where the ?Premier League trophy will end up in May 2020.
Liverpool vs Manchester City
When? Matchweek 12
In the correlating fixture last season, Riyad Mahrez made a mockery of the £60m sum City had forked out for his services by launching a late spot-kick at Anield high into the stratosphere.
He will no doubt be overlooked should Pep Guardiola’s men receive another penalty at the home of their fearsome foes when November rolls around. With a single point separating the pair last term, there really is no margin for error.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Manchester City
When? Matchweek 20
The festive period invariably throws up surprises. The games come thick and fast, the travelling is relentless and the chances to rest are rare.
Should their opponents arrive at Molineux on Boxing Day both mentally and physically exhausted, it isn’t difficult to see ?Wolves upsetting the apple cart here.
Manchester United vs Manchester City
When? Matchweek 29
Where? Old Trafford
?The Sky Blues run-in begins at Old Trafford. What state will neighbours ?United be in by this point? Disarray, just as they were in this fixture in late April? Or will Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have got them back on track and heading for the ?Champions League?
The Red Devils’ form going into this encounter could prove decisive in the title race, with just nine matches left following this Manchester derby.
Everton vs Liverpool
When? Matchweek 30
Where? Goodison Park
Liverpool experienced two hugely contrasting emotions in their two clashes with the Toffees last year. A last-gasp goal – bundled in by newly-anointed Reds legend Divock Origi – kept Jurgen Klopp’s recruits within touching distance of City at the Premier League summit, sparking wild celebrations.
However, Everton exacted their revenge three months later, holding their rivals to a 0-0 draw, the stalemate allowing the Citizens to leapfrog Liverpool. They maintained their one-point advantage thereafter, meaning the final twist in the tale came at Goodison Park, to the delight of the Toffees faithful.
Chelsea vs Manchester City
When? Matchweek 31
Where? Stamford Bridge
This match-up is always a tough one to call. The four results between these two in 2019/20 were: 2-0 City, 2-0 ?Chelsea, 6-0 City and 0-0. There’s a fair amount of variability, then.
As the season nears its conclusion, two potential challengers will lock horns at Stamford Bridge in a mammoth meeting. One side could deliver a knock-out blow, kicking the other out of the running for top spot.
Manchester City vs Liverpool
When? Matchweek 32
Where? Etihad Stadium
It’s evidently going to be a fateful fortnight for Guardiola and his world-beaters. Immediately after the showdown at the Bridge, they welcome Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium.
Their performance in these back-to-back fixtures will go some way to determining who will reign supreme in England. Secure consecutive victories and they could remain atop their throne; fall to successive defeats and they may be booted off of it.
When? Matchweek 36
Where? Emirates Stadium
The Citizens have their week from hell during Easter, the Reds begin theirs in May with three top-flight matches remaining. First up it’s an away trip to do battle with the Gunners, a game they drew during the previous campaign.
Nevertheless, they pummelled the north Londoners in the duo’s most recent meeting, Roberto Firmino grabbing a hat-trick in a 5-1 demolition. Klopp may be needing a similar scoreline in 11 months time.
Liverpool vs Chelsea
When? Matchweek 37
Following the encounter with Arsenal, the Merseysiders host Chelsea at Anfield. They came good in similar circumstances this April, Mo Salah unleashing a venomous volley that totally bamboozled Kepa