Blues handed Old Trafford start

17 June 2009 10:00
Manchester United start the defence of their Premier League crown with a home game against newly-promoted Birmingham City in just over eight weeks' time. It is a tough fixture for the Blues who secured an immediate return to English football's top-flight last season when they finished second in the Championship behind Wolves. Mick McCarthy's side start their campaign at Molineux with a game against Gianfranco Zola's West Ham United while Burnley, who won the play-off final, travel to Stoke City. The Clarets will be looking to repeat Stoke's fortunes last term when Tony Pulis' side finished in mid-table despite being one of the pre-season favourites to be relegated. If Roque Santa Cruz's proposed move to Manchester City goes through, the Paraguay international's first game for his new club will be against his current side, Blackburn Rovers, at Ewood Park. Liverpool, second last term, have a tough opening-day fixture at a Tottenham side that were revitalised by Harry Redknapp in the second half of last season, while Chelsea entertain Hull City, the fixture in February which proved to be Luiz Felipe Scolari's last game in charge at Stamford Bridge. FA Cup finalists Everton host one of the games of the day as they face an Arsenal team that held off challenges from David Moyes' side and Aston Villa to eventually finish fourth last term. Elsewhere, Roberto Martinez's first game in charge of Wigan Athletic will be at Aston Villa while Bolton Wanderers face Sunderland and Fulham have a trip to Portsmouth. Opening day fixtures: Aston Villa v Wigan Athletic Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland Chelsea v Hull City Everton v Arsenal Manchester United v Birmingham City Portsmouth v Fulham Stoke City v Burnley Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool Wolves v West Ham United

Source: ESA