LONDON (AP) — Manchester City will open the Premier League season with a trip to Tottenham as part of a tough start to the champions’ title defense.
The league’s 2021-22 schedule was released Wednesday and threw up the intriguing prospect of Tottenham striker Harry Kane playing in the opening round on Aug. 14 against his current team, given that City is one of the clubs he’s been linked to during the offseason.
Kane’s future is likely to be decided after the European Championship, where he is captaining England.
City also has been scheduled to play Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool in its first seven games of the season, with the first Manchester derby against United not coming until the 11th round in the opening weekend of November.
Pep Guardiola’s team won the league by 12 points last season ahead of United, which opens its campaign against fierce rival Leeds at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere on the opening weekend, Brentford begins life back in the top flight for the first time in 75 years with a London derby at home to Arsenal, while Norwich hosts Liverpool on its return to the Premier League.
Chelsea is at home to Crystal Palace, which is currently without a manager while another team looking for a new manager, Everton, hosts Southampton.
Watford, the third promoted team, takes on Aston Villa.
The Premier League concludes on May 22 with City, Liverpool and Chelsea all finishing with home games — against Villa, Wolverhampton and Watford, respectively — while Manchester United visits Crystal Palace.
There are a number of early meetings between the so-called ‘Big Six’ clubs involved in the quickly abandoned Super League project, with the weekend of Sept. 25-26 seeing a repeat of the Champions League final when City travels to Chelsea.
Arsenal also hosts Spurs that weekend in the first north London derby of the season.
On the weekend of Oct. 2-3, the most recent Premier League winners meet at Anfield when Liverpool hosts City.
City’s first four away games are against Tottenham, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool.
Currently there are only four rounds of midweek games, with three of them in December.
It’s unclear how many fans will be allowed to attend. For the current European Championship, the government has referred to the 90,000-seat Wembley being “at minimum 50% capacity” for the latter matches of the tournament.
“The Premier League and its clubs reiterate their ambition of having full stadiums, including away supporters, from the start of the season, and will continue to work closely with government and all relevant authorities, ensuring operational plans are in place ready to safely welcome supporters back to stadiums in August,” the league said Wednesday.