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A Closer Look: The opening 10 PL matches for the Big Six

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The release of the Premier League schedule marks the start of a new season, and with that the hopes and dreams of the millions of fans around the world.

As Premier League clubs gear up or are well into a busy summer of transfers, expectations can start to be set based on the schedule and where certain games fall.

With Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all pushing for the Premier League title, we thought it would be good to go in depth and look at how each team will open the season, focusing on the first 10 games of the campaign.

Chelsea of course won its first three games before drawing with Swansea City and losing to Liverpool and Arsenal, which allowed manager Antonio Conte to make his famous switch to the 3-5-2 formation that paid such dividends for Chelsea down the road.

While we can’t predict a future like that, here’s our take on the opening 10 games of the season for each of the top six teams.

ARSENAL

Arsenal v Leicester City
Stoke City v Arsenal
Liverpool v Arsenal
Arsenal v AFC Bournemouth
Chelsea v Arsenal
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
Arsenal v Brighton
Watford v Arsenal
Everton v Arsenal
Arsenal v Swansea City

Arsenal’s initial run in isn’t too bad. While it has road matches at Liverpool and at Chelsea in the opening 10 games, the only two other top-10 teams from last year Arsenal faces is Everton on the road and West Bromwich at home. With six games against bottom-ten teams, Arsenal should be able to start the season on a positive note like it has in the past.


CHELSEA

Chelsea v Burnley
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Chelsea v Everton
Leicester City v Chelsea
Chelsea v Arsenal
Stoke City v Chelsea
Chelsea v Manchester City
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Chelsea v Watford
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea

After facing Burnley, Chelsea faces three of the big six in Tottenham away and Arsenal and Manchester City at home as well as a pair of other London derbies at Crystal Palace and home against Watford. Having to face Tottenham so early in the season after the clubs’ physical battles in the past could be an issue if any new members of the squad haven’t adjusted to the Premier League pace at that point.


LIVERPOOL

Watford v Liverpool
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Arsenal
Manchester City v Liverpool
Liverpool v Burnley
Leicester City v Liverpool
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Liverpool v Manchester United
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Liverpool v Huddersfield Town

Among the big six, Liverpool has arguably the toughest run-in to start the season. Jurgen Klopp‘s side will have to navigate both the UEFA Champions League as well as two back-to-back stretches against top six sides. Matches home against Arsenal and at Manchester City early in the season is split up by an international break while in October Liverpool will host Manchester United on the weekend, play a Champions League group stage match midweek, and then travel to Tottenham the coming weekend, a grueling gauntlet of games. Klopp may want to adopt former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez‘s rotation policy for at least that week.


MANCHESTER CITY

Brighton v Manchester City
Manchester City v Everton
AFC Bournemouth v Manchester City
Manchester City v Liverpool
Watford v Manchester City
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Chelsea v Manchester City
Manchester City v Stoke City
Manchester City v Burnley
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City

Like Arsenal, Manchester City have an easier start to the season, facing six teams who finished in the bottom half of the table last year as well as opening up the season against Premier League debutants Brighton and Hove Albion. Manchester City face just two of the big six, at home against Liverpool and at Chelsea, although that 11th game is against Arsenal, which could determine where each team finishes depending on the result.


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester United v West Ham United
Swansea City v Manchester United
Manchester United v Leicester City
Stoke City v Manchester United
Manchester United v Everton
Southampton v Manchester United
Manchester United v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Manchester United
Huddersfield Town v Manchester United
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

Like its crosstown rivals, Manchester United only faces two of the big six in the opening ten fixtures, at Liverpool and home against Tottenham, both well into the season. But unlike Manchester City, the schedule is balanced with games against mid-table sides such as trips to Southampton and Stoke and home games against Everton, West Ham and Leicester City. Jose Mourinho’s side will be plenty tested heading into the Tottenham match.


TOTTENHAM

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur v Swansea City
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur
Huddersfield Town v Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth
Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham has a difficult start and finish to its opening ten-game stretch, with more manageable games in the middle. After visiting Newcastle for the season opener and then hosting Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham only has a trip to Everton two weeks later before the schedule lightens up, with home games against Swansea City and Bournemouth as well as trips to West Ham and Huddersfield. But the slate ends with a home match against Liverpool followed by a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. If the team hasn’t shown its title-winning quality by the end of this ten-game slate, it may be too late.

CCL wrap: Atlanta United, Cruz Azul advance

CONCACAF Champions League
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The underdogs did not have their days on Tuesday in the CONCACAF Champions League.

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MLS side Atlanta United and Liga MX mainstays Cruz Azul cruised to second legs win at home to clinch places in the quarterfinals.

Cruz Azul 4-0 (6-1 agg.) Portmore United

Bringing a pair of away goals from Jamaica, the Liga MX hosts just needed to put this one on ice early.

Orbelin Pineda did that in the 22nd minute, and Cruz Azul struck thrice in the second half to win in a landslide.

Atlanta United 3-0 (4-1 agg.) Montagua

It was all about the Martinezes in Georgia, as Pity sandwiched a pair of goals around Josef’s 61st minute tally to send the Five Stripes into the next stage.

All the goals showed calm under pressure, but Pity’s first was gorgeous football. He also assisted Josef’s goal in Honduras during the first leg.

Remaining Round of 16 second legs

NYCFC v. San Carlos (5-3) — 6 p.m. Wednesday
Montreal Impact v. Deportivo Saprissa (2-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Tigres UANL v. Alianza (1-2) — 8 p.m. Wednesday
Club America v. Comunicaciones (1-1) — 10 p.m. Wednesday
Seattle Sounders v. Olimpia (2-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday
LAFC v Leon (0-2) — 10 p.m. Thursday

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

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MILAN (AP) The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

El Tri winger Jurgen Damm headed for MLS this summer

Jurgen Damm
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This season’s Liga MX invasion of MLS continues with Jurgen Damm announcing that he’ll leave UANL Tigres this summer after five years with the club.

TUDN has the destination as Atlanta, though previous reports have linked Damm to the LA Galaxy is the spot.

And MLSSoccer.com scribe Tom Bogert says the Houston Dynamo have his “discovery rights” (which remains the worst concept in the entire league).

Reports emerged over the past 48 hours that the El Tri man was headed for an MLS club.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 12-times capped winger has one goal for Mexico, but has not been capped since Oct. 2018. He has spent his entire career in Liga MX.

Damm spent the early part of his career with Tecos and Pachuca, but has been with UANL Tigres since 2015.

He won four league titles with UANL, as well as the 2018 Campeones Cup.

Ex-Arsenal man Gnabry: “London’s still red” after Bayern beats Chelsea

Serge Gnabry
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Ex-Arsenal man Serge Gnabry still has love for the club.

Gnabry tweeted that “London is still red” after he scored twice for Bayern Munich in a 3-0 beating of Chelsea on Tuesday in the first leg of a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

This after scoring four times against Spurs in a previous Champions League group stage match and Tweeting that “North London is Red.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

So what’s with the London form?

“I’ve got a lot of friends here,” Gnabry said after the game. “A lot of them were in the stands tonight, and it seems they give me a lot of good power.”

Gnabry only scored once during his time in England with Arsenal and West Brom but is a bona fide star in the Bundesliga.

With a three-goal advantage over Chelsea heading to Munich for a second leg, however, he’s not got his head in the clouds.

“Three goals ahead gives us a little bit of confidence, but we need to be prepared for the second leg. We can’t take it not seriously enough. … We’ve seen it last year with Liverpool beating Barcelona, so we have to be careful. We have to go into the second leg with all of our focus.”

Gnabry now has 51 goals and 29 assists in four seasons since returning to Germany from Arsenal. Not terrible production for a player the Gunners offloaded to Werder Bremen for under $6 million in 2016.

What color will London be when Chelsea buys him next year? We kid, we kid…