Premier League Fixtures: Trickier start than usual for champs Chelsea

The [2.64] title favourites open at home to Swansea, who fired twice at Stamford Bridge in 2014/15, before travelling to Manchester City, who they failed to beat in either clash last term, and West Brom, who embarrassed them 3-0 at The Hawthorns last month.

In all four of the years that the Blues were crowned champions this century, they kicked off with three victories, though the early games that confronted them were never as difficult as this.

As is often the case, that unfriendly introduction is at least counterbalanced by a softer finishing sequence. The only top-seven sides that they face in their final eight matches are Man City and Tottenham, and both of those contests are in west London. Their May double header is Sunderland away and Leicester at home.

It is arguably [5.5] shots Arsenal who have the most appealing start of the four Premier League winner market frontrunners. Their opening quintet sees them hosting West Ham, visiting Crystal Palace, entertaining Liverpool – an encounter that they aced in 2013/14 and 2014/15 – heading to Newcastle and then welcoming Stoke.

The Gunners will need to gather as many points as possible from that run because Chelsea away and Manchester United at the Emirates are on the menu between late September and early October.

Next Manager To Leave co-favourite Brendan Rodgers will surely have gulped upon scrolling through Liverpool’s August-to-November road fixtures: Stoke, Arsenal, Man United, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea and Man City is not a conga line that a boss requiring a great getaway would typically care to join.

Anyway, what is there to look forward to in week one? Liverpool’s return to Stoke 11 weeks on from their 6-1 final-day humiliation at the Britannia Stadium is perhaps the headline attraction, but Man United v Tottenham is an enticing co-main event.

Arsenal and West Ham collide in the sole derby, Southampton trek all the way up to Newcastle for Steve McClaren’s initiation, Man City journey to West Brom and, as mentioned above, Chelsea meet Swansea.

In terms of the newcomers, Aston Villa landed the plum summer trip to Bournemouth, Watford venture to Everton – as they did at the top of their previous Premier League campaign in 2006/07 – and Norwich face Crystal Palace at Carrow Road.

Finally, two of 2014/15’s most adept relegation evaders, Leicester and Sunderland, renew acquaintances at the King Power Stadium.

Week One (weekend of August 8):
Arsenal v West Ham
Bournemouth v Aston Villa
Chelsea v Swansea
Everton v Watford
Leicester v Sunderland
Man United v Tottenham
Newcastle v Southampton
Norwich v Crystal Palace
Stoke v Liverpool
West Brom v Man City

Latest Premier League Winner Odds
Chelsea [2.64]Man City [3.8]Arsenal [5.5]Man United [6.8]Liverpool [34.0]Tottenham [130.0]