18 Jun 2011

Man U to start defence against West Brom

2:25 pm on 18 June 2011

Manchester United will kick off their title defence at West Bromwich Albion on August the 13th after English football's Premier League issued the fixture list for the new season.

Runners-up Chelsea, who are still to name their new manager following the departure of Carlo Ancelotti at the end of last season, are also away on the opening day when they head to FA Cup finalists Stoke City.

Newly-promoted Swansea City, back in the top flight for the first time since 1983, will get an immediate taste of the high life with a trip to big-spending Manchester City, who won the FA Cup last season, finished third in the league and will be appearing in the Champions League for the first time.

The two other promoted teams, Queens Park Rangers and Norwich City, play at home against Bolton Wanderers and away at Wigan Athletic respectively.

Arsenal, hoping to win their first trophy in seven seasons, have a tricky start, travelling to Newcastle United where they drew 4-4 last season after leading 4-0 at half-time, before matches at home to revitalised Liverpool and away to champions United.

Arsene Wenger, who faced some criticism last season for the first time in nearly 15 years at Arsenal, is not helped by his side having to play in the Champions League playoff round in August, having missed out on qualifying directly for the group stage after finishing fourth.

United won a record 19th English championship, and a 12th Premier League title under manager Alex Ferguson, last season and will start the new one as favourites with bookmakers Ladbrokes who give odds of 7-4 for United to retain the title, ahead of Chelsea at 5-2 and Manchester City at 7-2.