Who has the hardest start to the 2024/25 Premier League season?

Euro fever has barely begun and already all eyes have turned to a new season in the Premier League and the challenges that await our favourite stars.

Social media feeds have been inundated with fans claiming their team has been dealt the toughest hand, launching league predictions into the limelight before players have even returned from international duty.

But who of the Big Six actually has the toughest start to life in 2024/25? How important are those opening games for the title race? Let’s take a look.

Harvey Elliott, Mohamed Salah - Winger - Born 1992Harvey Elliott, Mohamed Salah - Winger - Born 1992

Liverpool kick off their campaign against Ipswich / Visionhaus/GettyImages

First five fixtures: Ipswich (A), Brentford (H), Man Utd (A), Nottingham Forest (H), Bournemouth (H)

New Liverpool boss Arne Slot will be rubbing his hands together after looking at his first few games in charge of the Anfield side.

The Reds may have the easiest opening run of any team in the league – facing newly promoted Ipswich Town at Portman Road to kick off their campaign before hosting Brentford, who may even lose striker Ivan Toney in the summer transfer window.

The trickiest of their first five games will come against Manchester United at Old Trafford, having failed to beat the Red Devils in their last season under Jurgen Klopp.

But Liverpool and Slot should be able to rack up a fair few points at the start of next season – potentially a perfect start to life in England for the new boss.

FBL-ENG-FA CUP-MAN CITY-MAN UTDFBL-ENG-FA CUP-MAN CITY-MAN UTD

United will start the season at home / JUSTIN TALLIS/GettyImages

First five fixtures: Fulham (H), Brighton (A), Liverpool (H), Southampton (A), Crystal Palace (A)

Manchester United will have a tough couple of fixtures to deal with in their opening weeks, but should come out pretty unscathed.

They start the season at home against Fulham and will be determined to avoid the same fate they suffered against the west London side at Old Trafford in February.

Erik ten Hag’s squad will travel to Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton and Crystal Palace in their first few games – with the latter two away fixtures easier on paper than the first.

Will Ten Hag be able to win over fans and reverse the narrative in the new season? Only time will tell.

James Maddison, Son Heung-MinJames Maddison, Son Heung-Min

Spurs will travel to newly-promoted Leicester / Daniel Pockett/GettyImages

First five fixtures: Leicester (A), Everton (H), Newcastle (A), Arsenal (H), Brentford (H) 

Former Leicester City star James Maddison will return to the King Power Stadium when Tottenham Hotspur face the Foxes in their first fixture of the season.

They will play some tricky opponents after this, with a journey to Newcastle United and a north London derby on the cards for Spurs.

While Spurs will have the home advantage when they first face Arsenal, they have not beaten the Gunners since 2022, when Antonio Conte was in charge of the team.

They should have some relief when they play both Everton and Brentford at home, but it will not be a walk in the park for Spurs.

Erling Haaland, Rodri, Josko Gvardiol, Bernardo SilvaErling Haaland, Rodri, Josko Gvardiol, Bernardo Silva

Man City will start their season at Stamford Bridge / Neal Simpson/Allstar/GettyImages

First five fixtures: Chelsea (A), Ipswich (H), West Ham (A), Brentford (H), Arsenal (H)

Reigning champions Manchester City will head to Stamford Bridge to face new manager Enzo Maresca when they launch their new season.

Pep Guardiola will hope to bring a fifth successive title to the Etihad in what might well be his final at the club, but will first have to navigate the opening months of the league.

City’s first few fixtures aren’t terrible, but they certainly aren’t easy. They will have to travel to both Chelsea and Arsenal – and the former may have a point to prove after just missing out on the league title last season.

Raheem SterlingRaheem Sterling

Chelsea may have a tough start to the season / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

First five fixtures: Man City (H), Wolves (A), Crystal Palace (H), Bournemouth (A), West Ham (A)

The Blues have been given a difficult start to the 2024/25 season, hosting Manchester City on the opening weekend.

Former Foxes boss Maresca will have a battle on his hands when he steps into the shoes of Mauricio Pochettino in August and will be keen to make an impression in the Premier League.

Chelsea were unable to outsmart City in either the FA Cup or the league last season – drawing twice and losing once.

They also have the challenge of facing Crystal Palace and West Ham at the start of the season – a slight baptism of fire for Maresca.

Bukayo Saka, Martin OdegaardBukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard

Arsenal will fight for the title in 2024/25 / Clive Rose/GettyImages

First five fixtures: Wolves (H), Aston Villa (A), Brighton (H), Tottenham (A), Man City (A)

Arsenal will look to end their two-decade wait for a Premier League trophy in the 2024/25 season, and have been handed the toughest opening of any of the Big Six.

The Gunners face Aston Villa, Tottenham and Man City away in three of their first five games, throwing them into the deep end before the summer season has even ended.

Arsenal will have to wait until February for their first away encounter at a newly promoted club – facing Leicester City.

Mikel Arteta will demand only the best from his side during the 2024/25 campaign and will have to force his players to up their game as they seek to go one step further next year.

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Premier League gameweeks to look forward to in 2024/25

We may all be fixated on Euro 2024 right now, but that didn’t stop the Premier League from stealing some headlines by releasing the fixtures list for the upcoming 2024/25 season.

And, as it always does, the Premier League fixtures computer has thrown up some fantastic weekends of football for us to look forward to.

Here’s our pick of the bunch from the first half of the upcoming 2024/25 Premier League campaign.

Pep GuardiolaPep Guardiola

Five in a row? / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Games of note: Ipswich Town vs Liverpool, Arsenal vs Wolves, Chelsea vs Man City

For the second season in a row, Chelsea will host one of the Premier League title favourites on the first weekend of the campaign.

Who’d be a Chelsea fan, eh?

This season’s opening clash with a top club has an extra layer of intrigue attached to it, with new Chelsea boss Enzo Maresca set to go head-to-head with his former mentor Pep Guardiola – the pair having worked together at Man City previously.

Elsewhere, it’ll be interesting to see how another new manager, Arne Slot, gets on in his first game as Liverpool manager – a trip to Portman Road to face Ipswich Town – and we’ll be keen to see how Arsenal kickstart another season in which they’ll be expected to challenge for the title.

Arne SlotArne Slot

First big challenge / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Games of note: Man Utd vs Liverpool, Newcastle United vs Tottenham

The first real test of Slot’s managerial mettle will come in gameweek three when he takes his Liverpool team to Old Trafford.

Jurgen Klopp famously had an exceptional record against Liverpool’s arch rivals, so it’ll be interesting to see if Slot can continue on that record against Manchester United while in charge.

Tottenham’s trip to Newcastle will also provide plenty of intrigue on gameweek three, with both clubs expected to be challenging for a place in the top four.

Josep 'Pep' Guardiola, Mikel ArtetaJosep 'Pep' Guardiola, Mikel Arteta

They go again / Alex Livesey – Danehouse/GettyImages

Game of note: Man City vs Arsenal

We’ll have to wait just five gameweeks before last season’s top two go head-to-head.

Manchester City will welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium for a potential early title decider in which both teams will be aiming to assert some early dominance at the top of the table.

Sure, these games weren’t particularly fun to watch in 2023/24, but the huge amount that’s at stake will make this an interesting watch at the very least.

Cole PalmerCole Palmer

Famous win last season / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Games of note: Man Utd vs Chelsea, Newcastle United vs Arsenal, Tottenham vs Aston Villa

Was Chelsea’s late, late, late 4-3 win over Man Utd the best game of the 2023/24 season?

Probably, yeah.

Will their first clash of the 2024/25 season be similarly dramatic?

Well, we can live in hope.

And if it isn’t, we also have Newcastle vs Arsenal and Tottenham vs Aston Villa to enjoy during the same weekend, so we’re good regardless.

Jeremy Doku, Joe GomezJeremy Doku, Joe Gomez

Always a fun game / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Games of note: Chelsea vs Aston Villa, Liverpool vs Man City

The Jurgen Klopp – Pep Guardiola rivalry may have come to an end, but we’re expecting the Liverpool – Man City rivalry to be alive and well.

Liverpool and Man City’s clashes has been barnburners over the last decade.

Sean DycheSean Dyche

Dyche’s team dealt a costly defeat to Liverpool last season / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Games of note: Everton vs Liverpool, Tottenham vs Chelsea

Ah, derby weekend. You love to see it.

On gameweek 15, we’ll be treated to both a Merseyside derby and a London derby. The former will see a Liverpool team hellbent on avenging their defeat to Everton at the end of the 2023/24 season, and the latter will see Tottenham and Chelsea likely continue their fight to finish in the top four.

Fun stuff.

Pep Guardiola, Erik ten HagPep Guardiola, Erik ten Hag

Manchester derby / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Game of note: Man City vs Man Utd

It’ll be a long wait until we see the first Manchester derby of the season, but come December we’re guessing it’ll be worth the wait.

The derby had been dominated by City until United randomly showed up and played brilliantly in the FA Cup final this past spring.

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Inter Miami vs Columbus Crew: Preview, predictions and lineups

Inter Miami return to Chase Stadium to take on Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer action this weekend.

The Herons are fresh off a 2-1 comeback victory over Philadelphia Union on the road at Subaru Park. It wasn’t as straightforward as head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino would’ve liked, as Miami found a stoppage-time winner with Leo Afonso coming off the bench to put the Herons up despite the team finishing the match with nine men.

On the other side of the clash, the Crew also managed to pick up three point on the road against a tough NYCFC side that’s improved each week in 2024. A penalty kick from Cucho Hernandez sealed the 3-2 victory for Columbus despite Santiago Rodriguez pulling one back for the hosts late on in normal time.

Here’s 90min‘s guide to the Herons vs the Crew.

Last meeting: Inter Miami 2-2 Columbus Crew (4 July 2023) – MLS

Current form (all competitions)

Inter Miami

Columbus Crew

Philadelphia 1-2 Inter Miami – 15/06/2024

NYCFC 2-3 Columbus Crew – 14/06/2024

Inter Miaim 3-3 St Louis CITY – 01/06/2024

Pachuca 3-0 Columbus Crew – 01/06/2024

Inter Miami 1-3 Atlanta United – 29/05/2024

Orlando City 0-2 Columbus Crew – 25/05/2024

Vancouver Whitecaps 1-2 Inter Miami 25/05/2024

Chicago Fire 1-3 Columbus Crew 18/05/2024

Inter Miami 1-0 DC United – 18/05/2024

CF Montreal 1-3 Columbus Crew – 15/05/2024

Country

TV channel/live stream

United Kingdom

Apple TV – MLS Season Pass

United States

Apple TV – MLS Season Pass

Canada

Apple TV +

Lionel MessiLionel Messi

Messi remains unavailable for selection / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

Martino will have to make do without the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Matias Rojas as the trio are set to compete at Copa America 2024 starting this week.

As if Miami’s squad wasn’t already a little thin on depth, Tomas Aviles and David Ruiz were sent off in the win vs Philadelphia as both players were shown a second yellow card. Striker Leo Campana will also miss the contest as he picked up his fith yellow card of the season vs the Union.

Federico Redondo will also miss the contest as he picked up a groin injury and is expected to return to action next month.

Inter Miami predicted lineup vs Columbus Crew ( 4-3-3 ): Callender, Weigandt, Sailor, Kryvtsov, Alba; Bright, Busquets, Cremaschi; Gressel, Taylor, Afonso.

Jacen Russell-RoweJacen Russell-Rowe

Russell-Rowe is headed to Copa America / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Jacen Russell-Rowe is the lone player unavailable for selection for Crew boss Wilfried Nancy, as the youngster was included in Jesse Marsch’s Canada Copa America squad.

Columbus Crew predicted lineup vs Inter Miami ( 3-4-2-1 ): Schulte; Moreira, Camacho, Amundsen; Farsi, Morris, Nagbe, Arfsten; Rossi, Matan; Hernandez.

It’ll be a close encounter down in south Florida with two sides that contain some of the best attacking talent in all of MLS — even with Miami’s missing players.

The Herons will be full of confidence after their comeback win over the weekend, but the reigning MLS champions will be difficult to beat. Each side will manage to find the back of the new twice with the two clubs sharing the points in an entertaining draw.

Prediction: Inter Miami 2-2 Columbus Crew

4 things we learned from France’s win over Austria: Mbappe’s replacement, Kante’s resurgence & more

It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but France managed to kick start their Euro 2024 campaign with a 1-0 win over a spirited Austria side on Monday.

The solitary goal came courtesy of Austria’s Maximilian Wober, who headed a Kylian Mbappe cross into his own net on the stroke of half-time.

So what did we learn from Les Bleus’ nervy win? And what did the game tell us about their chances of going all the way and winning Euro 2024?

Kylian MbappeKylian Mbappe

A sore one / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

The slow motion replays of Mbappe’s face connecting with Kevin Danso’s shoulder made the whole of Europe collectively wince. And judging by the fact that his nose was contorted in 20 different directions afterwards, it’s no surprise that the France captain suffered a broken nose during the incident.

Despite the gruesome nature of the injury, and copious amount of blood which burst out of the forward’s nose, the French FA have confirmed that Mbappe won’t require surgery, meaning he will not be ruled out the remainder of Euro 2024, though is still expected to miss their next game against the Netherlands.

Mbappe will wear a mask when he does return to action, and is already asking for suggestions on designs.

Olivier GiroudOlivier Giroud

Time to start the big man? / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

In ideal world, France don’t have to rely upon a now 37-year-old Olivier Giroud to knit together their attacking lineup.

But judging on the performance against Austria, we don’t live in an ideal world and France need to start Giroud up front.

The towering forward has long been the man that’s made everything come together in the final third for Les Bleus, allowing Mbappe to race infield to latch onto his knock downs, or hold up play to get Antoine Griezmann involved.

Without Giroud against Austria, and with a mobile front three of Marcus Thuram, Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele, France clearly missed having a player who can drop in from the forward line, receive the ball, and allow his team have enjoy sustained periods of pressure – something that they didn’t really do last night.

Giroud is the only player in this France squad that can perform that role, so Didier Deschamps simply has to start him moving forward, particularly if they don’t have the individual brilliance of Mbappe to depend on next time.

N'Golo KanteN'Golo Kante

Top class performance / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

To be perfectly honest, we were quite surprised by the fact that N’Golo Kante was still a footballer, never mind one that’s still this good.

The holding midfielder has been out-of-sight and out-of-mind since moving to the Saudi Pro League, so we weren’t too sure what to expect from the now 33-year-old on Monday night when his named appeared on the France teamsheet.

What we got was vintage Kante.

The World Cup winner rolled back the years to provide an impenetrable wall in front of the France defence against Austria, recovering possession for his side an impressive seven times in the win.

Someone queue up the ‘Kante covers 80% of the world’ memes again. He’s back in business.

William SalibaWilliam Saliba

A few nervy moments / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Les Bleus kept a clean sheet in the win over Austria, but that was perhaps more down to Kante than it was to their new-look defensive partnership.

In truth, William Saliba and Dayot Upamecano looked a nervy at times in Dusseldorf, with a few mis-hit clearances putting France under undue pressure on a few occasions.

A much more assured performance will be needed against the Netherlands in their second game, especially with Ibrahima Konate and Benjamin Pavard waiting in the wings.

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Roberto Martinez explains why Cristiano Ronaldo is still in Portugal squad aged 39

Roberto Martinez says that Cristiano Ronaldo is in Portugal’s Euro 2024 squad ‘on merit’ after being dropped at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus forward, who now plays for Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia, is preparing to play in his sixth European Championship, with Portugal getting their campaign underway against Czechia on Tuesday night.

Ronaldo was benched towards the end of Portugal’s run at the 2022 World Cup, under previous head coach Fernando Santos, coming on as a substitute in both the round of 16 and quarter-finals.

But Martinez views Ronaldo as an important asset in the Portugal squad, and has revealed to reporters why he still believes in the 39-year-old.

“Cristiano is in the national team on merit. Nobody gets into the national team by just having a name,” Martinez said. “Cristiano scored 50 goals in 51 games, consistent with his club in his league, and he scored nine goals in our qualification rounds.

Roberto MartinezRoberto Martinez

Martinez has explained Ronaldo’s involvement in the squad / Carlos Rodrigues/GettyImages

“He’s a goal scorer and for us he’s someone who can make that final move. He can stretch defences and open spaces. Over the years he has changed his way of playing slightly, but I can only say that Cristiano is in the national team on merit and the numbers are there to back that up.”

Ronaldo’s lack of appearances at the World Cup prompted rumours of his retirement from international football – particularly as Portugal have an exceptionally young and talented squad – but he is in a forward pool that also contains Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, Diogo Jota, Pedro Neto and Francisco Conceicao.

The only player to score at five consecutive European Championships, Ronaldo has more goals than any other individual in the history of the competition. 14 times he has found the back of the net for Portugal, famously leading his country to 2016 success despite picking up an injury in the final.

Besides Czechia, Turkey and Georgia are the two other countries that comprise Group F at Euro 2024.

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