Rodgers could be swept away

Liverpool face tough foes in first 7 away ties, poor run may cost him job

LONDON - Brendan Rodgers has been installed as the favourite to become the first English Premier League manager to get the sack after the new season's fixture list, announced yesterday, handed Liverpool a gruelling start.

He is under pressure after his side slipped to finish sixth on the final day of last season with a 6-1 defeat at Stoke City, and the Reds return to that embarrassment on the opening day - Aug 8 - of the new term.

That was Liverpool's heaviest defeat since 1963 and compounded doubts about Rodgers' ability to stimulate an upswing in performances.

  • Key dates of EPL 2015-16

  • SEASON OPENER
    Aug 8: Manchester United v Tottenham
    CLASH OF THE REDS
    Sept 12: Man United v Liverpool
    Jan 16: Liverpool v Man United
    TYNE-WEAR DERBY
    Oct 24: Sunderland v Newcastle United
    MERSEYSIDE DERBY
    Oct 3: Everton v Liverpool
    Feb 27: Liverpool v Everton
    RED DEVILS v BLUES
    Dec 28: Man United v Chelsea
    Feb 6: Chelsea v Man United
    March 19: Man City v Man United
    MANCHESTER DERBY
    Oct 24: Man United v Man City
    NORTH LONDON DERBY
    Nov 7: Arsenal v Tottenham
    March 5: Tottenham v Arsenal
    BATTLE OF LONDON
    Sept 19: Chelsea v Arsenal
    Jan 23: Arsenal v Chelsea
    TYNE-WEAR DERBY
    Oct 24: Sunderland v Newcastle United
    March 19: Newcastle v Sunderland

However, he must hire new backroom staff during the summer as his long-time assistant, Colin Pascoe, was let go along with the first-team coach, Mike Marsh.

Liverpool also need to recruit players.

Stoke are the start of a tough- looking run-in for Liverpool who must travel to all five clubs - Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City - who finished above them, as a well as a short trip to Everton, in their first seven away matches.

And the bookmakers have reacted by cutting Rodgers' odds to be unseated before his contemporaries.

The most mouth-watering fixture of the opening round, however, will be the one between United and Tottenham at Old Trafford.

Promising young England striker Harry Kane is scheduled to be in action for Tottenham.

However, if speculation about his future turns out to be true, he could be wearing the colours of the Red Devils instead.

The biggest game in English football will be on Sept 12, when Liverpool visit Old Trafford, while United's trip to Anfield is scheduled for Jan 16.

Champions Chelsea start their campaign at home to Swansea City.

However, the following week will bring an early-season crunch match as Jose Mourinho's team travel to City for a game that will give an indication of the ability of Manuel Pellegrini's side to mount a stronger title challenge.

City start their season away to West Bromwich Albion.

Then, after the Chelsea game, they play Everton (away) and Watford (home).

FA Cup winners Arsenal will begin their campaign against a pair of London opponents.

They host Slaven Bilic's West Ham in their first match before travelling to Crystal Palace.

Their third game of the season is at home to Liverpool.

Manager Arsene Wenger will face the toughest test of his season with a visit to Chelsea, where his nemesis Mourinho awaits, on Sept 19.

Those eager to see Mourinho clash with Louis van Gaal will have to wait until Dec 28 when United host Chelsea.

The old friends and rivals will meet again at Stamford Bridge on Feb 6.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'RODGERS COULD BE SWEPT AWAY'. Print Edition | Subscribe