With the announcement of next season’s Premier League fixture list officially announced, I can start to circle some marquee matchups on my calendar. The glut of superstar managers and thrilling storylines means that football fans have plenty to look forward to this season, and here are four matches through the first half of the season that everyone should get excited for:

Arsenal vs Liverpool (Aug 13)

Opening day of the season starts out with a bang as Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal take on Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool. The Gunners managed to sneak their way up to a second place finish last season, but I’m not sure if that was due to their skill or Tottenham being Tottenham. Last summer, the big move at the Emirates was the arrival of Petr Cech, and this summer they’ve spent big again bringing in Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mochengladbach. It’s unclear if Wenger will open the war chest any more this summer, but if history has taught us anything, Arsenal is pretty much limited to one big-name signing per summer.

On the other hand, this will be the start of Liverpool’s first full season under Klopp. The Normal One has drummed up plenty of enthusiasm at Anfield after leading the Reds to the Europa League Final, and this summer will give him the chance to inject some of his own personality onto the squad through transfers. After their reported move for Mario Gotzë fell through, it’ll be interesting to see who Klopp brings in, and even more interesting to see who he lets go.

Manchester United vs Manchester City (Sep 10)

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It’s finally back. José Mourinho versus Pep Guardiola. The managerial rivalry that fans around the world have been waiting for since Mourinho left Real Madrid back in 2013. Now, the two talented tacticians will face off in the most anticipated Manchester Derby in recent memory. Hopefully, at this point in the season, Mourinho is keeping United in title contention with this match only serving to boost their position atop the table. For City, the introduction of Guardiola almost immediately made them title favorites, and fans will be hoping that he starts his derby account with a win.

Both managers have already been active on the transfer market with United bringing in Eric Bailly from Villareal and City adding Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund. If rumors are to be believed, Mourinho is also on the verge of adding Zlatan Ibrahimovic to his lineup, as well. I’m sure that both squads will add some big name talent over the next couple of months, and all of the buildup is going to make me irrationally excited for this match.

Chelsea vs Manchester United (Oct 22)

Sorry for the back-to-back United picks, but I think you have to agree with me on this one. For the first time since his unceremonious departure from Stamford Bridge last year, José Mourinho will return to take on his former employers. Near the end of his reign, Chelsea players looked unmotivated to play for the Special One and it showed in their results. While a lot of the blame does have to fall on Mourinho, you can also argue that some blame should go on the players. While the former Chelsea manager always puts in ridiculous preparation time going into matches, the personal side of this fixture should give him some extra motivation to seek the win.

On the other side of the touchline, Chelsea will have a new manager, as well. The fiery Italian manager Antonio Conte has become somewhat terrifying by his antics on the sidelines (e.g. yelling “I will kill you” at his players following a chance for Belgium). Hopefully by this point in the season, Chelsea players haven’t crumbled from fear in the dressing room and have embraced their new boss’ style which would make for an excellent blockbuster match at Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City (Oct 29)

During the final stretch of the season, the title race was really only between two teams: Leicester and Tottenham. We all know how that ended. The Foxes completed one of the most unlikely title runs in the history of professional sports, and have now cemented themselves as heroes to fans around the world. Now, the question is whether or not they can keep all of that talent on the roster. Rumors have already started swirling that N’Golo Kanté, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are on the verge of leaving, with the latter potentially heading to Arsenal following the Euros. Depending on how many of their stars leave, and how well Ranieri can invest in replacements, this match could either be an epic clash, or an embarrassing low for Leicester.

For Tottenham, the only person that is really rumored to be leaving is Harry Kane, and I don’t really see him going anywhere soon. Spurs have arguably the best young core of players in the Premier League with Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Christian Eriksen (average age: 22), and right now it looks like the sky is the limit in North London. At the helm, Mauricio Pochettino has quickly grown into one of the most sought after managers in Europe, and he showed his commitment to the club by signing a contract extension until 2021. Spurs are a team on the rise, and a statement win here could send a message to the rest of the league.


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