BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - Opening Weekend

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Photo: Barclays Premier League Trophy (Football Tipsters UK)

A new season is upon us in the most exciting and perhaps the most watched football league in the world. The Barclays Premier League kicks off a new season with defending champions Manchester City hoping to successfully defend their title. As they found out in the 2012/2013 season, defending the title is twice as hard as winning it and they will be pushed by the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United all the way until next May.

There is lots of excitement in the air and many fans are buzzing hoping that their team can get the job done to become champions at the end of the season. The transfer window is still open so with the first weekend set to kick off, a lot of the managers will get a better look, in the face of competition, as to where in their squads they need to make the necessary additions.

Old Trafford kicks off the season with Louis van Gaal's Manchester United welcoming Swansea City to the Theatre of Dreams. This is a repeat of last season's opener for both teams with United running out 4-1 winners, thanks to a brace each from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck. Both players will miss this fixture, therefore new captain Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez will bear the burden of finding the back of the net. New signing at left back Luke Shaw is also out injured but fellow new boy Ander Hererra will lead the charge in central midfield. Juan Mata is expected to take up his customary place behind the striker while academy graduate Tyler Blackett could make his competitive debut in central defense.

Swansea will be able to call upon captain Ashley Williams in central defense along with Angel Rangel, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jefferson Montero and Wayne Routledge. They have lost their star attacker Michu to Napoli and goalkeeper Michel Vorm who left for Tottenham Hotspur as well as left back Ben Davies. The Red Devils should claim all three points for their new manager but Swansea could prove to be tough opponents.

Arsenal will start their campaign against Crystal Palace who are still reeling after Tony Pulis left the helm. Arsene Wenger has made some great signings and the fans will be excited to see Alexis Sanchez make his Emirates debut as well as Mathieu Debuchy. New club captain Mikel Arteta will lead out his team while Aaron Ramsey seems to have picked up where he left off last season. Olivier Giroud is expected to lead the attack being supported by Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla.

Palace is not a walk in the park but may find it tough on the first day against an Arsenal team playing with pace, high intensity and top quality. They managed to sign decent players in the form of Martin Kelly, Brede Hangeland and Frazier Campbell to add to the likes of Marouanne Chamakh, Mile Jedinak and Adrian Mariappa. The Gunners should have too much in the tank for Palace however Wenger has warned of a hangover.

Other games on opening day will see Leicester City taking on Everton, QPR against Hull City, Stoke City entertaining Aston Villa, Sunderland against West Brom and Tottenham visiting West Ham.

On Sunday, the second day, Liverpool invites Southampton to Anfield. Brendan Rogers has recruited Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren from the Saints and this is expected to be a grudge match. Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson, captain Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge will be the main threats to the Saints.

Saphir Taider and Shane Long are the two transfer that raises the eyebrow at the St Mary's Stadium. Florin Gardos has been brought in to fill the void left by Lovren and the likes of Victor Wanyama, Maya Yoshida and James Ward-Prowse are expected to put in a big performances against the Scousers. Liverpool should bag all three points but the Saints could spring an early surprise.

Champions Man City faces a tricky opening fixture away at Newcastle. Willy Caballero, Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando, Frank Lampard and Bacary Sagna are all in contention for their Citizen debut in the league. Yaya Toure will be expected to lead the charge from midfield while skipper Vincent Kompany, Fernandinho, David Silva and Edin Dzeko will be hoping to take all three points away from St James' Park.

Alan Pardew has also done some good business this summer. Daryl Janmaat, Siem De Jong, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Jack Colback are all good signings. They will add to the quality of Fabricio Coloccini, Vurnon Anita, Moussa Sissoko and Cheick Tiote. It could be an exciting encounter which could go either way but it may end up in a stalemate.

The final fixture of the first weekend on the opening weekend sees Chelsea visiting new boys Burnley. Jose Mourinho goes to Turf Moor with hot new striker Diego Costa, Filipe Luis, Cesc Fabregas and Didier Drogba. The Blues has been tipped to lift the title in May so they will be aiming to start with a routine win. Captain John Terry will try to get his team off to a good start and he will count on the likes of Nemanja Matic, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Gary Cahill.

Burnley has added players with Premier League experience to their squad in the form of Steven Reid, Matt Taylor and Michael Knightly. Manager Sean Dyche will hope the likes of Michael Duff, skipper Jason Shackell and Sam Vokes can lift their game to put some pressure on the much fancied Chelsea team.