Goal.com looks ahead to the all important matches that could shape the course of the English top flight next season, with vital clashes at both ends of the tableThe new Premier League calendar has been released today and already the permutations of when certain games are being played on particular days and the effect that this could have on both the title race and relegation battle are beginning to hit home.
Banana skins aplenty and goals galore have dominate the thoughts, so without further ado, here are the top 10 Premier League fixtures that you should keep an eye on going into the new top-flight campaign.
|25th August - Liverpool vs Manchester City|
Just the second week into the fresh league season, and new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers hosts the league champions in his first game at Anfield. It's been a summer of upheaval on the red half of Merseyside so far and a positive result here against Robert Mancini's side could set the tone for the rest of their season.
|29th September - Manchester United vs Tottenham
On a day where Manchester City travel away to Fulham and Arsenal and Chelsea square-off against each other at the Emirates, this fixture could prove pivotal later on in the season should Sir Alex Ferguson's side emerge with all three points. From a Tottenham perspective too, with a new manager at the helm, a good start is essential, not only win over the fans, but those players with one eye on the exit door, and it could either act as a catalyst for some heavy January transfer movement or be the beginning of a successful season.
|27th October - Chelsea vs Manchester United|
We shouldn't underestimate the job that Roberto Di Matteo has on his hands at Stamford Bridge. The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas and the subsequent Champions League and FA Cup success means that the job of moving on the old guard had been put very much on the backburner in the short-term, but the problem still requires addressing. It will be intriguing to see whether the Swiss manager will revert back to type of try and instigate a bold and bright future at the club, something which is doubly important when you factor in that Pep Guardiola is waiting in the wings and available.
|17th November - Arsenal vs Tottenham
Arsene Wenger looks set to blood in quite a few new players this summer, with Lukas Podolski already on his way and French duo Yann M'Vila and Oliver Giroud heavily linked with moves. Bragging rights in North London are of paramount importance and a win here for the French boss could stand his team in good stead as they try and push their title bid into the New Year.
|8th December - Manchester City vs Manchester United
The big one, part un. The first fixture that you cast your eye around for, aside from your team's opening game, is undoubtedly the moment when these two juggernauts resume their titanic battle out on the pitch for the first time in the new league season. A title can't be lost in December, but during the busy and hectic festive period of fixtures, it can certainly be won.
|16th March - Everton vs Manchester City
A potential upset on the cards here. Everton are notoriously slow-starters, but their form in the second half of the campaign is usually title-worthy. On the same day, Manchester United host Reading at Old Trafford and a six point swing could very much be in the offing.
|6th April - Manchester United vs Manchester City
The big one, part deux. The reverse fixture sees us head down the home stretch, with the title in sight and just six games after this one left to go. A slip-up here could prove costly, and Ferguson's side will to banish the memories of last term's 1-0 defeat that when all was said and done, proved the difference between coming first and finishing second.
|6th April - Norwich vs Swansea
A game on the very same day as the Manchester derby, and while it may not court as much interest and coverage, it could have just as much of an effect on the final standings at the other end of the table. Both sides came up last season and achieved success, and both teams have new managers at the helm (Chris Hughton and Michael Laudrup). Second-season syndrome has claimed the likes of Reading and Ipswich in the past, and it will be fascinating to see whether either of these clubs are battling for their top flight survival going into the game.
|20th April - Liverpool vs Chelsea
This could be a huge game when taking a look at the make-up of the top four by the end of the campaign. Liverpool have staked their future on a manager with only one season's worth of top-flight experience and the more time they spend outside of the commercial goldmine of the Champions League, the worse their financial future will be. However, for Roberto Di Matteo, as the club reach the business end of a long season, famously trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich will want to see a return on his significant investment over the last few months.
|19th May - West Ham vs Reading
Chances are that going into this game, that either one or both of these teams will need to secure a positive result to ensure their top-flight status. The contrasting styles of play on offer also provide food for thought and with Harry Redknapp likely to still be available, Sam Allardyce simply cannot afford failure in his bid to beat the drop at the first time of asking. A massive game.