By Alan Baldwin
CHAMPIONS Manchester United will travel to Swansea City for their first Premier League match under new manager David Moyes, while Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City are at home to Newcastle United on August 17.
United, kicking off their league campaign without Sir Alex Ferguson in charge for the first time since 1986, were handed a tricky opening five matches in fixture lists published on Wednesday.
They host Chelsea, with Jose Mourinho back in charge for the second time, on August 24 before Moyes makes a return to Merseyside with a game at Anfield against old foes Liverpool on August 31.
The champions then take on promoted Crystal Palace before making the short journey to the Etihad Stadium for the first Manchester derby against last year’s runners-up with their new Chilean manager on September 22.
The return Manchester derby at Old Trafford is scheduled for March 21.
“Lively start to the season! Let us at them,” declared United defender Rio Ferdinand on Twitter.
Chelsea, third last season behind the Manchester clubs, start at Stamford Bridge against newly promoted Hull City with Frank Lampard hoping to make a record 18th appearance in an opening fixture of a Premier League season.
The west Londoners then host Aston Villa after their trip north to United.
Everton, with Roberto Martinez stepping into Moyes’ shoes, start out at Norwich City before hosting Chelsea as their fourth match of the season. They visit Manchester United on December 3.
Liverpool start the season at home to Stoke City, now under the leadership of Mark Hughes, while Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal are at home to Aston Villa at the Emirates.
However, the fixture list has not been kind to Arsenal in terms of their European hopes. Providing they get through a Champions League play-off, the Gunners will play away in the League after five of their six group games. By contrast, Chelsea will be away in only one of those weeks.
Promoted Cardiff City travel to West Ham United while Crystal Palace mark their return to the top flight with a home match against Tottenham Hotspur.
The first Welsh Premier league derby between Cardiff and Swansea is due on November 2 at the Cardiff City Stadium with the return fixture on February 8.
The season ends on May 11, when Manchester United are at Southampton, Chelsea travel to Cardiff, Arsenal visit Norwich, and Manchester City host West Ham.
The FA Cup final has been moved back to after the end of the league season with the match scheduled for May 17.
Over the last three years the Wembley showpiece has been forced to share the spotlight with a weekend programme of top-flight matches.
FA general secretary Alex Horne said: “We’re well aware that fans and media have been calling for the FA Cup final to have a day to itself and we’re delighted that this is going to happen for 2014.”
By Alan Baldwin