City handed tough start to Premier League title defence

CHAMPIONS Manchester City have been handed a tricky start to the 2014-15 Premier League season with head-to-heads against the rest of last season’s top four in their first five games.

After travelling to Newcastle when the campaign kicks off on 16 August, City then host last season’s runners-up Liverpool in their opening game at the Etihad Stadium and, before the end of September, make the trip to Arsenal and play Chelsea at home.

Jose Mourinho’s Blues travel to newly promoted Burnley on the opening weekend, while Tottenham begin life under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino at London rivals West Ham. The Gunners host Crystal Palace.

The first north London derby of the season is at Emirates Stadium on 27 September, the same day Liverpool host Everton in the Merseyside derby.

The fixture computer has been relatively kind to Manchester United and new boss Louis van Gaal, with Swansea at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season, before a trip to Sunderland and then meetings with newly-promoted trio Leicester, Burnley and QPR.

Championship play-off winners QPR entertain Hull at Loftus Road first and travel to Leicester on the final day of the season. Under new manager Ronald Koeman, Southampton visit Liverpool on the opening weekend and end their season at Manchester City.

EIGHT KEY FIXTURES FOR 2014-15

■ 23 August 2014:
Manchester City v Liverpool

■ 27 September 2014:
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

■ 4 October 2014:
Chelsea v Arsenal

■ 1 November 2014:
Manchester City v Manchester Utd

■ 13 December 2014:
Manchester United v Liverpool

■ 1 January 2015:
Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea

■ 7 February 2015:
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

■ 16 May 2015:
Manchester United v Arsenal

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