Manchester City face a tough defence of their Premier League title, facing Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in their opening five games. As the fixture lists were announced this morning, the opening fixture sees a reverse of the opening game last season, as City went on to lift the title. That day they opened in style with an impressive 4-0 victory against Newcastle at the Etihad, with David Silva, Sergio Agüero, Yaya Touré and Samir Nasri all finding the target in Manuel Pellegrini’s first game in charge.
This time out they must travel to St. James’ Park, on Saturday the 16th of August, as Pelligrini looks to add to his impressive haul of 2 trophies in his first season in English football with a good start against Newcastle. The first home game sees last season’s runners up Liverpool travel to the Etihad. The two sides fought a thrilling battle last season in the race for the title, City winning 2-1 at the Etihad, but then Liverpool coming out on top 3-2 at Anfield, a result which many believed had handed them their first Premier League title. Both sides are sure to feature at the top again, and this promises to be a pulsating clash, one I fully expect to be moved for the TV cameras.
The final league game in August sees City host Stoke City at the Etihad. City registered a hard fought 1-0 victory last season, with a solitary goal from Yaya Touré proving the difference. September sees a tough trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal on the weekend of Saturday September 13th. Last season the game ended 1-1, David Silva giving Manchester City the lead before Flamini equalised for Arsenal. The two sides will have already faced off once by this clash, the pair meeting each other at Wembley in the traditional curtain raiser to the new season, the Community Shield.
Next up is Chelsea at home, a game which the London side won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Branislav Ivanović. Despite finishing 3rd, Chelsea actually had the best record of all the top 4 sides against their rivals, including a 2-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield in April which blew the title race wide open. With plenty of incomings and outgoings at Stamford Bridge, I expect Chelsea to prove the toughest competition again this time out.
The final game of the month is a trip to the KC Stadium to face losing FA Cup finalists Hull City. City produced a fantastic performance last time the two met in March, being reduced to 10 men as captain Vincent Kompany was sent off after just 10 minutes, but going on to win the game 2-0 thanks to a wonder strike from David Silva and a goal from Edin Džeko. The defending Champions would be happy with a similar result again as they look to conclude a difficult opening 2 months.
You can see the full list of fixtures here.