BPL champions to begin 2015/16 season against Swansea while Man Utd host Spurs on opening day
Chelsea's Diego Costa got a hat-trick against Swansea at Stamford Bridge last season
Chelsea will face a stern examination of their title defence after being pitted at home to Swansea City on the opening match of the season, with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium the champions' next assignment at the start of the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season, after the fixtures were released today.
Jose Mourinho's team sealed their fourth BPL title by an eight-point margin last season after a strong start but their mettle will be tested in the early stages of the 2015/16 competition as they also face Everton and Arsenal in their opening six matches.
Swansea, who finished 2014/15 in a club-record eighth place, opened last season's campaign with a shock victory at Old Trafford and will be looking to do the same at Stamford Bridge. In the same fixture last season, Diego Costa scored a hat-trick in Chelsea’s 4-2 win but only after Swansea had taken the lead through John Terry’s own goal. The Welsh side were one of only the two teams to have led at Stamford Bridge last season in the BPL. Swansea also give good memories for Chelsea because in the reverse fixture last season, Mourinho’s team swept aside Garry Monk’s side 5-0 at Liberty Stadium.
Manchester United will face another tricky opener at the Theatre of Dreams with Tottenham Hotspur their first opponents on the weekend of 8 August. United will not have long to wait before meeting traditional rivals Liverpool, either, with the two sides meeting to Old Trafford on Matchweek 5.
Brendan Rodgers' side have the opportunity to make immediate amends for last seasons's final-day 6-1 defeat by Stoke City with another trip to the Britannia Stadium on the opening day, the first time in the Barclays Premier League that a fixture has been played twice in succession at the same venue. Liverpool then travel to Arsenal on the third weekend of the campaign in a tough start with trips to Old Trafford, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea before November.
The first Merseyside derby takes place on the weekend of 3 October at Goodison Park, the same matchweek that Arsenal host Manchester United. Anfield will play host to Everton on the weekend of 27 February, on the same weekend Arsenal visit Old Trafford.
Louis van Gaal's charges
are at home in the first Manchester derby on the weekend of 24 October, with the Red Devils visiting Man City on the weekend of 19 March.
Arsenal, who finished third last season, open their Barclays Premier League account with back-to-back London derbies against West Ham United and Crystal Palace and go to Chelsea on Matchweek 6. Spurs visit Emirates Stadium on the weekend of 7 November, with the reverse fixture scheduled for the weekend of 5 March.
Newly promoted AFC Bournemouth begin life in the top flight at home to Aston Villa, with a trip to Anfield their next engagement, while Norwich City, who were promoted via the play-offs last season also start at home, to Crystal Palace. Watford end their eight-year absence from the Barclays Premier League with an away day at Everton, a repeat of their opening fixture in their last season in the top tier of the English game.
Come the end of the season Chelsea fans may have visions of more title-winning celebrations at Stamford Bridge, where they will play Leicester City, on the final day, when Man Utd host AFC Bournemouth and Swansea City sign off, as they opened their campaign, with another testing encounter, this time at home to Man City.
Steve McClaren's first match as Newcastle United manager will begin at home to Southampton, who will have the second leg of UEFA Europa League third qualifying round the week before.
The first meeting of the sides at the Barclays Asia Trophy in 2015/16 will be when Arsenal host Stoke City on 12 September. Arsene Wenger’s team beat Stoke 3-0 in that fixture last season, with two goals from Alexis Sanchez.
If they do not face Stoke on finals day in Singapore on 18 July, Arsenal will be playing Everton, whom they will face in the Barclays Premier League on 24 October, also at Emirates Stadium.
The next meeting between Stoke and Everton after their match in the National Stadium, Singapore, on 15 July, will be on 28 December at Goodison Park.
Having won the title in 2012 and 2014, last season's runners-up Manchester City will open their campaign away to West Bromwich Albion, while Leicester City and Sunderland represents the other fixture for Matchweek 1.
BPL opening day fixtures - weekend of 8 August
AFC Bournemouth v Aston Villa
Arsenal v West Ham United
Chelsea v Swansea City
Leicester City v Sunderland