Top 10 televised games you need to watch this season
Sat Aug 16: Man United vs Swansea
After United's Chosen One disaster, it's the straight-talking Louis van Gaal who takes centre stage on the opening day, as his Reds side kick off the new Premier League season against Swansea. After intense media attention (and adulation), the 62-year-old will be keen for his side to deliver a convincing performance from the outset. Even Moyes' men won this same fixture against the Welshmen away from home last season. Ah, memories.
Sun Aug 17: Liverpool vs Southampton
Having already signed Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren from Southampton, Liverpool’s clash with their opening-day rivals will be an inevitably high-charged encounter. Who knows how Ronald Koeman's new side will be shaping up by the time their Anfield trip comes around, but it'll be interesting to see how they begin what many predict will be a difficult campaign.
Sat Aug 23: Aston Villa vs Newcastle
Having ended last season under pressure from their respective fanbases, both Paul Lambert and Alan Pardew will be praying their sides make a positive start to the new season. With Newcastle opening the season against Manchester City and Villa facing Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in September, this fixture could go a long way to shaping opinions and expectations for the year ahead.
Sat Aug 30: Burnley vs Man United
A trip to the Liberty Stadium is almost light relief for Burnley, sandwiched in between the visits of Chelsea and Manchester United to Turf Moor. It's fair to say the Clarets' return to the top flight is to open in challenging circumstances. But optimistic fans will point to their shock 1-0 victory over the Reds back in 2009, courtesy of Robbie Blake's thunderbolt volley, as inspiration for the current generation. With a relatively straightforward beginning to the season for United, meanwhile, Van Gaal will want to avoid any embarrassing slip-ups.
Sat August 30: Everton vs Chelsea
Can he do it again? Having led the Toffees to fifth place last season, the real challenge now for Roberto Martinez is sustaining it. Successive home fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea will show whether the Spaniard’s side still possesses the quality to compete against the very best, let alone handle the demands of European football. The encounter is also an interesting one for Romelu Lukaku, who'll line up against his former charges as a permanent Toffee.
Sat Sep 13: Arsenal vs Man City
After the record signing of Mesut Ozil last summer, Arsenal have again raided the coffers for Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers. But with this money comes increased expectations. Having led for so much of last season before falling away in a familiar fashion, the question is whether the Gunners will mount a credible title challenge this time. This clash with the current Premier League champions could tell us a lot about their chances.
Sun Oct 5: West Ham vs QPR
Will Allardyce’s West Ham play attractive football? Will QPR flop again in the top flight? Will Rio Ferdinand be an inspired signing or another overpaid has-been? By this point, we might at least have an idea of answering some of these questions. In any case, a return to Upton Park for Rio and Harry Redknapp should make this an interesting match-up.
Sun Oct 26: Man United vs Chelsea
Van Gaal’s first big challenge at Old Trafford. Annoyingly, the Dutchman has already vowed not to be drawn into a war of words with Jose Mourinho, after Chelsea's Portuguese prince claimed Luke Shaw's wages would have "killed" the Blues. Van Gaal remained unmoved. "He shall not do that with me," declared our Louis. "I play against Chelsea, and not against Jose Mourinho. My team and his team are playing against each other."
Sat Nov 1: Newcastle vs Liverpool
A Premier League fixture that nearly always delivers goals, epitomised by that famous 4-3 in 1996. Last season’s encounter at St James’ Park produced a thrilling 2-2 as the Magpies held on for a point with 10 men. Both sides have made a number of exciting attacking investments this summer, so it wouldn’t be wrong to anticipate yet another goalfest.
Sat Nov 8: Liverpool vs Chelsea
Even before last season’s decisive corresponding fixture, a modern rivalry had long emerged between Chelsea and Liverpool from the days of Rafa Benitez and Mourinho. However, the west Londoners' 2-0 victory at Anfield spoiled the hosts' march to the title, and sparked a Brendan Rodgers rant about his former mentor. Last season’s events have surely revitalised a rivalry that will provide imperative viewing when the sides meet for the first time next season.