Always an exciting day, Fixture Release Day, if for nothing else than being the first real sign of proper Chelsea football returning soon. Soon! August 16th to be specific. So close, you can almost smell it. Well, not really. So close, yet so far! Still two months away. (And one month until the first preseason friendly.)
But the lucky winners of the getting annihilated first in our Manifest Premier League Title Destiny sweepstakes are... BURNLEY! Welcome (back) to the Premier League!
Last season, we got to start at home against Hull City; the season before we were away against Wigan Athletic. This season we will be away as well, though once again we get lucky with an easy-looking fixture. The same can't be said for the next two away dates, which will be Everton (week 3) and Manchester City (week 5).
The first few home fixtures are looking easy as well, with Leicester City -- which means that Chelsea open the season with back-to-back games against newly promoted sides -- Swansea City, and Aston Villa up first before Arsenal visit on Gameday 7. Get those fireworks ready, Cesc!
That starts what's looking like the toughest stretch of games right now: Arsenal closely followed by trips to Manchester United and Liverpool sandwiching a home tie against local annoyances* QPR. The reverse fixtures from this stretch are set to also close out the season; the meeting with Liverpool on May 9th at Stamford Bridge could very well prove to be a title-decider.
* And speaking of annoyances, Spurs away will ring in the new year on January 1st.
You should peruse the whole list on the Premier League's official website. I'd post it here as well, but the rights to these things are a bit murky, so I'm going to play it safe.
While a lot of these dates and times will change due to TV rights, European commitments, and general schedule congestion, it's time to mark them down on your calendars and make your weekend plans for the nine months starting in mid-August.