The narratives for the Premier League's opening day fixtures

16 June 2021 03:30

Euro 2020 is in full flow, but never forget your first love - club football!

The Premier League offered us a cheeky 'are you missing me?' teaser on Wednesday morning, by releasing the fixture list for the 2021/22 campaign, kicking off on the weekend beginning August 14.

The opening day of the Premier League season can often throw up some tame affairs, with the big boys rarely going head to head. But this year's edition is full of tasty narratives and potential traps, and frankly, it's got us in the mood for a bit of domestic action - after the Euros, of course.

So, what's the key talking point to keep an eye on heading into the first 10 matches of the Premier League season?


Brentford v Arsenal

Narrative: Bees back in the big time - against a familiar foe.

The Bees are buzzing | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Brentford are finally a Premier League club! The Bees have been threatening to break into the top flight for several years now, but they finally got it right last season. Their first test in the big time is Arsenal - incidentally their final top-flight foe.

Opta dropped the key narrative on this one, noting that the last game Brentford ever played in the top flight - 74 years ago - was a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in May 1947. If that's not inspiration for revenge, I simply don't know what is.


Burnley v Brighton

Narrative: Anti-football vs XG deniers

A meeting of contrasting minds | Dan Istitene/Getty Images

This is what happens when two very different worlds collide. Burnley, the kings of efficiency and route one football take on Brighton, the most inefficient yet pretty football side in England. Stylistically, there couldn't be two more polarising teams in the bottom half of the Premier League.

The Seagulls are also on the warpath to defeat their biggest enemy, Expected Goals, also known as xG. Graham Potter's men know where the goal is, and often find themselves under no pressure in front of it, only to fluff it up. Insert GIF here of Sandra Bullock blindfolded on a boat to describe their finishing technique.


Chelsea v Crystal Palace

Narrative: Not Frank Lampard's Chelsea vs Frank Lampard's Crystal Palace

Lampard could be in the Palace dugout | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/Getty Images

Frank Lampard is now well and truly part of Chelsea's past, having been sacked midway through last season, only to see Thomas Tuchel replace him and do a much, much better job than he did. However, he could become part of Crystal Palace's present.

The Blues legend could find himself back in top-flight management with the Eagles, where his first task would be defeating the man who recently won the Champions League for the Stamford Bridge faithful. A small victory, if anything.


Everton v Southampton

Narrative: Former coaches now at Real Madrid & Barcelona vs former coach now at Barcelona

Talk about failing upwards | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Will it come as any comfort to supporters of Everton and Southampton that while they are attempting and failing to propel themselves into the upper echelons of the Premier League, they are both well represented in arguably the biggest game in world football?

That's right, former coach of both the Toffees and Saints Ronald Koeman has kept himself in the Barcelona job for another season, while the recently departed Carlo Ancelotti has swapped Goodison Park for Santiago Bernabeu and Real Madrid. Try not to think about those two too much during this 0-0 stalemate.


Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Narrative: Battle of the big boy wannabes

Tielemans was emotional after Leicester's top-four failure | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have both fought hard to firstly become everyone's second team, and then to break into the pack of Premier League big boys. The Foxes are leading the race on both counts, but they have yet to return to the promised land of a top-four finish.

Wolves will be under the stewardship of new coach Bruno Lage, so all eyes will be on how he copes against the brilliant mind of Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. It promises to be an intriguing clash between these two ambitious clubs.


Manchester United v Leeds United

Narrative: Meeting of one of England's biggest rivalries - with fans

An iconic moment in this rivalry | Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Of all the contests on the opening weekend of the season, this one is the most eye-catching. Manchester United and Leeds United. Two legendary clubs, and two major rivals. The hatred between the two sides has lingered, even when the Whites were down in the doldrums of the Championship and League One.

Leeds enjoyed a famous victory over the Red Devils back in 2010, when, trapped in the third tier of English football, they travelled to Old Trafford to claim a shock 1-0 victory over the Premier League giants in the third round of the FA Cup. No fans in the ground ruined last season's meetings, so let's hope we're treated to that hostile atmosphere this time round.


Newcastle United v West Ham United

Narrative: The 'Release Andy Carroll' derby

A Hammer and a Magpie | Alex Morton/Getty Images

Are you even a Premier League side if Andy Carroll hasn't come on with 10 minutes to go and won a few headers for your cause? Well, yes you are. But he has been a key figure in both West Ham United and Newcastle United's recent history, spending seven years in east London before making a return home to the north east for two seasons.

Carroll's career with both clubs ended in the same fashion, however. He was released by the Hammers and the Magpies, and is now on the lookout for a new club. Will one of these sides admit they've made a huge mistake in allowing the human-headed lamp post to walk away and bring him back for one final season? No, but he'll get a couple of mentions on the comms, we reckon.


Norwich City v Liverpool

Narrative: The haunting of Luis Suarez's ghost

In some ways, Norwich City fans should feel privileged to have been handpicked by Luis Suarez as the club against whom he would score a collection of his greatest ever goals. Supporters were forced to watch on as the Uruguayan forward scored 12 goals and provided three assists in just six matches against the Canaries, including some of the most memorable strikes of that era.

Norwich will be anxious that his spirit lives on within another Red on that pitch for the season opener, or worse yet, that Liverpool will bring him back for a last hurrah in the summer. Seeing him step off the bench and score seven goals in 10 minutes would really roll back the years.


Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City

Narrative: Harry Kane scoring a hat-trick against his boyhood club

Could be on the move | Visionhaus/Getty Images

The fixture gods have decided that Harry Kane will be a Manchester City player by the start of next season - that is the only logical explanation for the Citizens plucking Tottenham Hotspur on Matchday 1.

We can just see it now. Kane wins the Golden Boot on the way to bringing football home for England, decides a move to Manchester is the only way to satisfy his now insatiable thirst for trophies, and bangs a hat-trick past his former employers on his debut.

Cue the camera panning to crying Spurs fans all around their lovely, lovely stadium.


Watford v Aston Villa

Narrative: Birmingham City boy Troy Deeney scoring the winner on Premier League return

A lover of revenge | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Troy Deeney is back in the Premier League - whether we like it or not. The Watford striker will be relishing his side's first outing in the top flight, when they welcome Aston Villa to Vicarage Road. There is not too much animosity between the two clubs, but one man who certainly bears an axe to grind is Mr. Deeney.

The robust striker is a Birmingham City fan, and has taken great pleasure down the years in silencing their biggest rivals, the Villans. So, what better way to announce his return to the Premier League than by scoring the winner against his personal rivals to hand Watford their first three points of the season?


Source: 90min