Chelsea, Man. United face favorable openings to Premier League season
After a summer of increasingly intensive thumb-twiddling and hours spent aimlessly wandering the corridors of Castle Limey, the excitement is at fever pitch as the English Premier League season returns this weekend. Last week we gave you our
• Chelsea, our pick for the EPL title, kicks the first ball of the season on Saturday at home against Hull City. The team that spent the first half of last season shocking the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham in their own backyards capitulated in the second half of the season, narrowly avoiding relegation by a solitary point. A road trip to the EPL favorites is not the ideal way the Tigers would have hoped to start their season, but on the plus side for Hull, at least perma-tanned boss
Chelsea faces a much sterner test in its second match with a long, mid-week trip to Sunderland. The Mackems have spent significantly on the likes of
• Ancelotti's side struck first blood over Manchester United with last week's Community Shield victory. The game was won in unusually controversial circumstances for the traditional season opener, a match that's usually played with the gusto of a middle-aged Sunday afternoon kick-about in the park. Chelsea's
• Liverpool, our pick for third place, goes to Tottenham in what will be a good early indicator of the forthcoming season for both teams. Liverpool has injury worries, particularly on defense with center backs
Liverpool's visit to White Hart Lane last season was at the beginning of the
• Arsenal faces an equally stern test with a road trip to Everton. The Gunners go into the game having not spent any of the $65 million received from the sales of
On Saturday, Arsenal will be without attacking duo
Wenger may well rue his inability to ship out
• Arsenal's likeliest rival for Champions League qualification, Manchester City, travels to Blackburn. When City last visited Blackburn, in December 2008, the focus was on manager
City has since lured away Blackburn's star player --
On form, free-flowing City brushed Blackburn aside 3-1 in May. Don't expect a repeat.
• While City is seemingly rising, Portsmouth is plunging. In just over a year
• Another of last season's successes, Stoke, plays host to Burnley, though Clarets fans will have half an eye on Wednesday when Manchester United arrives at Turf Moor. What a cup final of a match for the small-town team's first home game back in the top flight. Win or lose, inspirational manager
• In a strange twist of alphabet fate, the other promoted club, Wolverhampton Wanderers, plays West Ham at home before traveling to Wigan. Will wily Team Limey's prediction of Wolves staying up look realistic come Wednesday?
An anonymous letter writer inquired, "Who were the 12 founding members of the Football League and where they are now?"
• Accrington F.C. -- resigned from the league in 1893, although Accrington Stanley, a separate club from the same town, now play in League Two, the fourth tier of English soccer.
• Aston Villa F.C. -- play in the EPL
Following Burnley's and Wolverhampton's recent promotions, there are now an unusually high number of Football League founder members playing in the EPL.