Liverpool opens title defense against promoted Leeds

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Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp, left, celebrates following the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Liverpool are champions of the EPL for the season 2019-2020. The trophy is presented at the teams last home game of the season. Liverpool won the match against Chelsea 5-3. (Laurence Griffiths, Pool via AP)

LONDON – Leeds' first game in the Premier League in 16 years couldn't be tougher: a trip to champion Liverpool.

The schedule for the new season was released on Thursday, with Manchester City and Manchester United not playing on the opening weekend to give them more rest after their involvement in European competition this month.

Liverpool can, therefore, get a head-start on two of its biggest rivals and will open its first title defense since 1990 with a match against promoted Leeds on Sept. 12, followed by games at Chelsea and against Arsenal at home.

The trip to Anfield for Leeds will be Argentine coaching great Marcelo Bielsa's first game in the Premier League after guiding what is regarded as a sleeping giant of English soccer back to the top division by winning the second-tier Championship. Leeds — a three-time English champion — was one of the country's top teams in the 1960s and 70s, won the English league title in 1992, and reached the Champions League semifinals in 2001.

Man City's home match against Aston Villa and Man United's trip to Burnley on the opening weekend have been postponed as a result of the agreement among all Premier League clubs for every squad to get a minimum of 30 days between their final game of the 2019-20 season and their first of the new campaign.

City lost to Lyon in the Champions League quarterfinals on Saturday, while United lost Sevilla in the Europa League semifinals on Sunday.

So, City's first game in the Premier League will be on the weekend of Sept. 19-20 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, with United starting at home against Crystal Palace the same weekend.

The first meeting between last season's top two teams, Liverpool and City, has been scheduled for Nov. 7 at City's Etihad Stadium, with the return game at Anfield coming on the first weekend of February.