The 2018-19 English Premier League season kicks off on Friday with the first of 380 matches set for Old Trafford. However, the headlining match of opening weekend comes from London as Arsenal hosts defending champs Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s men are coming off a 100-point campaign which saw them roll to their third league title in the past five six seasons. Playmakers Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne will need to be huge for City again this year while Sergio Aguero is expected to lead the offensive front.
As for Arsenal, they begin a new regime under former Paris Saint-Germain boss Unai Emery. Emery has a lot of talent returning to the Emirates, with Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being the focal points of the offense. Arsenal was swept by the Citizens in three matches last season, including the EFL Cup Final at Wembley. They were outscored, 9-1, as the Gunners eventually finished in sixth place.
Elsewhere, Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt face off in the German Super Cup. PSG begins their title defense as they face Caen at home, while Patrick Vieira’s Nice debut comes at home against Stade Reims.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s European action:
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
The first match of the new Premier League season comes from Old Trafford as the Red Devils host Leicester City. Jose Mourinho’s side will hope to play an important part in this season’s title race after finishing second to rivals, Manchester City. Romelu Lukaku led the team with 16 goals a season ago and will be a huge force up front for Mourinho’s side. Leicester finished in ninth place under Claude Puel, but will need more creativity in the midfield due to Riyad Mahrez’s departure this summer. Jamie Vardy scored 23 goals in all competitions a season ago, and is a pesky attacker for the Foxes.
Liverpool will seek a good start in the league as they welcome West Ham United to Anfield on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side finished third last season but added numerous reinforcements to an already dangerous squad. Mo Salah is coming off a 43-goal haul in 2017-18 and will easily be the danger man for the Reds again this season. Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita were added this summer to add to a ever-growing attack. West Ham made several changes this summer under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, adding Andriy Yarlomenko, Felipe Anderson, and Jack Wilshere to the fold. All three should see time in Pellegrini’s starting XI as the Hammers seek their first league win over the Reds since 2016.
Here’s all of this weekend’s EPL fixtures:
- Manchester United vs. Leicester City
- Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
- AFC Bournemouth vs. Cardiff City
- Fulham vs. Crystal Palace
- Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea
- Watford vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
- Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Everton
- Liverpool vs. West Ham United
- Southampton vs. Burnley
- Arsenal vs. Manchester City
GERMAN SUPER CUP
A rematch of May’s German DFB Pokal Final takes place this weekend with Bayern Munich duking it out with Eintracht Frankfurt. It will be the first competitive match in charge for Niko Kovac who takes over at Bayern after leading Frankfurt to the German Cup. The defending league champs still have star striker Robert Lewandowski and veteran Thomas Muller to lead the offense. Frankfurt will rely on Croatian international Ante Rebic offensively, who scored a brace in their 3-1 cup win in May.
- Bayern Munich vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
FRENCH LIGUE 1
Defending Ligue 1 champs PSG kicks off their league campaign at home against Caen on Sunday. Thomas Tuchel begins his reign as PSG manager with several star players still in the squad. Kylian Mbappe is coming off a stellar World Cup campaign with France while Edinson Cavani and Neymar also starred in Russia. U.S. international Tim Weah will seek plenty of first-team minutes under Tuchel. Caen finished in 16th last season but need to replace the scoring of leading-scorer Ivan Santini. Ronny Rodelin had five goals and six assists in 2017-18 for Caen and will be relied on for production.
Patrick Vieira’s competitive debut as Nice manager comes on Saturday against newly-promoted Stade Reims. Nice finished in eighth a season ago, but will need to replace some stars who left this summer. Jean Michael Seri and Alassane Plea both moved on to greener pastures, while Mario Balotelli has stayed put for now. The Italian scored 24 goals in all competitions for Nice a season ago, and will need to be a veteran for many new faces. Reims will need to be strong defensively if they want to make a Ligue 1 stay permanent. Pablo Chavarria scored 14 goals a season ago as Reims jumped up to the top-flight.
Here’s all of this weekend’s Ligue 1 fixtures:
- Marseille vs. Toulouse
- Nantes vs. AS Monaco
- Angers vs. Nimes
- Lille vs. Rennes
- Montpellier vs. Dijon
- Nice vs. Reims
- St. Etienne vs. Guingamp
- Lyon vs. Amiens
- Bordeaux vs. Strasbourg
- PSG vs. Caen