Football

Chelsea welcome back legend for season-opener

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Chelsea begin their defence of the Barclays Premier League title with a home match against newly-promoted West Brom.

The match on August 14 means a return to Stamford Bridge for former Blues midfielder Roberto Di Matteo, now manager of Albion.

Next up for the champions will be a trip to Wigan, where they were beaten last season, before Stoke visit Stamford Bridge on August 28.

The title holders have to wait until October 2 for their first match against one of the big four clubs, when they face Arsenal at home, with the return fixture on Boxing Day.

Carlo Ancelotti's side first play Manchester United on December 18, with the two shaping up at Old Trafford on May 7 - the Blues' penultimate away fixture.

United, runners-up in 2009-10, also start with a home match against a newly-promoted team. Sir Alex Ferguson's side take on Newcastle on the first day.

And Blackpool, the third of the sides promoted from the Championship, provide the Old Trafford opposition on the last day of the season, May 22.

There are two intriguing matches between top-four hopefuls on the opening day. Liverpool start the post-Rafael Benitez era with a home match against Arsenal, while Tottenham and Manchester City meet at White Hart Lane.

Aston Villa face West Ham and Everton travel to Blackburn, while Blackpool's first match in the Premier League is at home, to local rivals Wigan.

Elsewhere on the opening day, Steve Bruce's Sunderland are at home to Birmingham, one of the clubs he previously managed. Wolves and Stoke clash at Molineux, while Bolton and Europa League runners-up Fulham meet in the north-west.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Football
Chelsea
Premier League

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