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Top 10 must-watch Premier League games in 2016-17

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The 2016-17 Premier League schedule was released on Wednesday and excitement is already building ahead of the Aug. 13 kick off.

[ MORE: Full PL schedule ]

Less than two months, ladies and gents.

With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at 10 games which will go down as must-watch encounters in the calendar next season.

Arsenal vs. Liverpool – Matchweek 1

What a mouth-watering clash in the opening weekend. The PL runners up against a Liverpool side which will look decidedly different at the start of next season than it did at the end of last season. When Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp go at it, expect a tremendous encounter. Not a bad start to the season…

Manchester United vs. Manchester City – Matchweek 4

Ah, we didn’t think it would take them too long to meet again: Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola. The duo will both be just four PL games into their new jobs at United and City respectively and this derby has just become a huge focal point for the soccer world. It was already huge but throw a big summer of spending, plus Mourinho and Guardiola’s rivalry into the mix and you have one heck of a game.

Manchester United vs. Leicester City – Matchweek 6

Now, this will be interesting. Leicester flew out of the traps last season on their way to the greatest-ever title victory in PL history. Will they do the same next season? This is a tough game to have sandwiched in among UEFA Champions League games. By six games in we should have a good idea what kind of season it will be for the Foxes. Nobody knows what to expect.

Liverpool vs. Manchester United – Matchweek 8

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool scores their first goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on March 10, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The old enemy collide once again. Mourinho vs. Klopp on the sidelines of a spicy derby game is the stuff dreams are made of. Expect passion, plenty of pre-match chatter and passionate celebrations at Anfield. This game is the definition of a must-watch.

Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Matchweek 11

Another huge derby game which has taken on greater significance after last season’s tight finish where Arsenal pipped Spurs on the final day to finish above them for 20-straight seasons. Tottenham were title contenders for most of the campaign and if they strengthen in the right areas this summer they will be right up there again. The north London derby never disappoints.

Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur – Matchweek 13

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Gary Cahill of Chelsea steps in to separate the warring Ryan Mason of Tottenham Hotspur and Willian of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on May 02, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Remember the vicious, toxic atmosphere at Stamford Bridge at the end of last season for this game? Yeah, there will be afters. Mousa Dembele was banned for gouging Diego Costa in the eye, yellow cards and dirty tackles flew in and we had bench-clearing brawls as Eden Hazard‘s late, late equalizer handed Leicester the title and dashed Spurs’ hopes. A feisty London derby awaits.

Everton vs. Liverpool – Matchweek 17

With Ronald Koeman on board and Farhad Moshiri set to spend over $150 million on new players, Everton fans are dreaming big. If they get off to a good start, this match at Goodison in the build up to the festive period would be the perfect reminder to Liverpool fans as to the Toffees ambitions. Drama. Goals. Red cards. Expect everything…. and more.

West Ham United vs. Manchester United – Matchweek 20

This two teams battled it out for fourth place last season and both came up short. They also had two epic FA Cup quarterfinal battles and with West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium, they believe they can challenge the likes of Manchester United perennially. Expect a packed house as Hammers fans welcome their old foes to their snazzy new home in east London.

Chelsea vs. Arsenal – Matchweek 24

Sparks fly when these teams meet and it will be a clash of styles at Stamford Bridge. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will be more defensive and set up to hit on the counter, while we all know Arsenal love to dictate the tempo and attack in numbers. Heading towards the busy Easter period, this game between two expected title contenders could be crucial in setting them up for a final push for the PL trophy.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United – Matchweek 36

during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.
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Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho do not get along. At all. Historically, Arsenal and Manchester United haven’t got along. Everything is set up perfectly for these two to be battling it out at the top for the title. With just three weeks of the season to go when this game takes place, it has the potential to be season defining.

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Haaland wins first leg after Borussia Dortmund-PSG comes to life late

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Erling Haaland scored twice in a mid-second half flurry as Borussia Dortmund beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The hosts also got an assist from teenager Giovanni Reyna, who became the youngest American to appear in a Champions League match.

Haaland now has 39 goals in 29 appearances between Red Bull Salzburg and BVB, 11 of those for his new German employer.

Neymar scored off a Kylian Mbappe goal for PSG, who brings an away goal back to the Parc des Princes for a March 11 second leg.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Neymar had an early free kick, missing just wide of the far post.

Jadon Sancho troubled the keeper twice in the first half hour, first with a cross that Mats Hummels headed over goal. Then, Keylor Navas picked another Sancho offering out of the air.

Sancho kept serving, and Erling Haaland couldn’t turn a promising cross on target.

Dortmund walked into halftime with a scoreless match but a 7-2 edge in shot attempts. Neither of PSG’s shots were on target.

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Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre put in American teen Giovani Reyna in the 67th minute.

Two minutes later, it was 1-0 to the hosts through Haaland’s close-range goal.

Neymar replied from close range himself after a powerful, clever dribble from Kylian Mbappe led to a pass through the box.

But Haaland got his second in the 77th minute with a scorching shot that serves as the first senior assist of Reyna’s senior career with Dortmund (Watch it here).