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Man City start title defence at home to Saints

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LONDON, England, June 18 – Manchester City will begin the defence of their English Premier League title at home to newly promoted Southampton on August 18, it was announced Monday.

Manchester United, who were just pipped to the title on the final day of the 2011/12 season, are away to Everton before Fulham visit Old Trafford the following weekend.

Arsenal, third last term, start at home to Sunderland before travelling to Stoke and Liverpool.

The opening day of the season sees two Europa League rivals go head-to-head when Newcastle welcome Tottenham Hotspur, currently without a manager following the departure of Harry Redknapp, to St James’ Park.

European champions Chelsea, with Roberto di Matteo now their full-time as opposed to caretaker manager, begin their quest for the Premier League title away to Wigan. Newcastle will be the first league visitors to Stamford Bridge.

Brendan Rodgers’ first Premier League match as Liverpool manager will be at West Bromwich Albion, now managed by former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant Steve Clarke after the Baggies lost Roy Hodgson to England.

Swansea, the team Rodgers left, will have the first league game under new manager Michael Laudrup at Queens Park Rangers.

West Ham’s return to the Premier League starts at home to Aston Villa, now managed by former Norwich boss Paul Lambert.

Fellow newcomers Reading will also have home advantage in their first top flight game for four years when Stoke arrive at the Madejski Stadium.

Meanwhile Fulham and Norwich meet at Craven Cottage in Chris Hughton’s first competitive game since replacing Lambert as Canaries boss.

Meanwhile, Cash-strapped Glasgow giants Rangers were omitted from the Scottish Premier League (SPL) fixture list annnounced Monday, with their place taken by a yet-to-be decided ‘Club 12’.

Rangers were docked 10 points for entering administration last season, a decision that helped Celtic win the SPL title.

League officials have still to decide if Rangers will play in Scottish football’s top-flight next season after a consortium led by English businessman Charles Green took over the club by creating a new company to run its business.

SELECT FIXTURES

Opening day – Saturday 18 August

Arsenal v Sunderland

Everton v Manchester United

Fulham v Norwich City

Manchester City v Southampton

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur

Queens Park Rangers v Swansea City

Reading v Stoke City

West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool

West Ham United v Aston Villa

Wigan Athletic v Chelsea

Saturday 25 August

Aston Villa v Everton

Chelsea v Newcastle

Liverpool v Manchester City

Manchester United v Fulham

Norwich City v Queens Park Rangers

Southampton v Wigan Athletic

Stoke City v Arsenal

Sunderland v Reading

Swansea City v West Ham United

Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion

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