Football: Return of the Premier League

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The 23rd instalment of the Barclays Premier League gets underway today when the leading clubs in England chase the most lucrative prize in European football.
Holders Manchester City open their account on Sunday when they travel north to Newcastle for their Sky Live clash at St James Park.
However, as City seek to become the first team in five seasons to defend the title, they do not kick off as the bookies’ favourites.
That mantle belongs to Chelsea who must wait until Monday to take on the team expected to finish bottom – Burnley.
The Clarets host the Blues in another Sky Live game at Turf Moor – Burnley are 10,000/1 for the title.
Manchester United are, somewhat surprisingly, ranked third with the bookies for the title as straight-talking Dutchman Louis van Gaal takes the reigns at Old Trafford for his first competitive outing at home to Swansea on Saturday.
Arsenal, some peoples favourites to win the Premier League for a first time since 2004, feature in the opening Sky Live broadcast of the season against managerless Crystal Palace at the Emirates this evening.
The other team expected to challenge for the title, Liverpool, are involved in one more Sky Live game over the weekend when they welcome Southampton to Anfield at Sunday lunchtime.
The depleted Saints won this fixture last season but open the new campaign without the services of many of their best players who have left to continue careers elsewhere. They also have a new manager in Ronald Koeman.
The Reds, who finished second in the table last season, will be hoping to end a 25-year wait for the league title, as well as ending Manchester’s domination in recent seasons.
Manchester clubs have lifted the trophy in seven of the past eight campaigns.
Elsewhere, on this exciting opening weekend, last season’s Championship winners’ Leicester welcome Everton to The Walkers Stadium, while Europa League hopefuls Hull travel to Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers.
There’s a London derby at Upton Park where West Ham hope to earn three points against Tottenham who lost both league fixtures in the East End last time around.
Midlanders Aston Villa make the short trip north to play Stoke – the bookies expect both of these teams to finish in mid-table – and West Brom welcome Sunderland.
This weekend’s games on Sky Sports 1 HD:
Arsenal v Crystal Palace (Saturday, 17.30)
Liverpool v Southampton (Sunday, 13.30)
Newcastle v Man City (Sunday, 16.00)
Burnley v Chelsea (Monday, 20.00)

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