With all the attention on the European Championships, the small matter of the Premier League fixtures were issued on Wednesday morning with some huge clashes set to take place over the course of the campaign.
Leicester City kick off life as Champions away to newly promoted Hull City before travelling to the Emirates to face Arsenal, but will they face Wenger’s side with or without Jamie Vardy?
Jose Mourinho will start life as Manchester United manager on the South Coast against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium while his nemesis across the city, Pep Guardiola, will take on Sunderland.
Antonio Conte begins with a London derby against Slaven Bilic’s West Ham United at Stamford Bridge before games against Watford and Burnley await while West Ham’s first league game at the Olympic Stadium will be against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth in the second weekend of the season.
The title race
An early indicator as to whether Leicester can cope as champions will be when Arsenal come to the King Power Stadium on the second week of the season, the title won’t be won or lost but a positive result will spark belief once more that last season was no fluke.
The Foxes have been given a lifeline with all of their games after the group stages of the Champions League being played at the King Power Stadium, a huge coup for Ranieri.
Man City have been given a fairly kind start with Sunderland, Stoke, Bournemouth and Swansea in their opening six games with their run in including the likes of Southampton, West Brom, Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace and Watford, a penultimate weekend clash with Ranieri’s Leicester could be interesting if the Foxes can replicate the form of last season.
Antonio Conte has been handed a similar start to Guardiola with a generous beginning before a gruesome run of games including the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester, Man Utd, Everton, Tottenham and Man City from end of September to December, surely an inkling as to whether Chelsea have what it takes to go the distance.
Mourinho’s testing spell will become October and December with a reunion with former club Chelsea on the 22nd October as games against Liverpool, Arsenal, West Ham, Everton and Tottenham. Their final three games include two away matches against Arsenal and Tottenham.
The two North London sides meet on the 5th November at The Emirates with the return at White Hart Lane with only four games of the season to go, Tottenham’s final game at White Hart Lane before their redevelopment will be on the penultimate weekend against Man Utd.
Tottenham’s November will surely be a tester especially with Champions League football, Leicester away on 29th October before a month of London derbies against Arsenal, West Ham and Chelsea.
Guardiola vs Mourinho
Arguably the most eagerly awaited two meetings of the season will be when Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho meet in the Manchester Derbies. The pair won’t have to wait long for a reunion (at least competitively), as on the 10th September United host City at Old Trafford with the return coming on the weekend of February 25th.
Despite the distraction of the European Championships, it feels as if it was just yesterday the final whistle for the 15/16 season was blown, so the release of the new fixtures certainly starts the buzz that with just under two months to go until the Premier League season kicks off once again.