Southampton will face a baptism of fire in their first top flight outing since 2005 when they go up against reigning champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on the opening day of the 2012/13 Premier League season.
City, who claimed their first league title in 44 years in such dramatic fashion last time round, will look to get the defence of their maiden Premier League crown off to a winning start against Nigel Adkins' men, before gearing themselves up for their first major challenge of the new season the following week, away to Liverpool on August 25.
Upon viewing the fixture list, released this morning, City fans will immediately have looked for their two league fixtures against Manchester United, who are expected to launch the fiercest challenge to the Citizen’s title defence once more.
Roberto Mancini’s men play hosts to United at the Etihad Stadium on December 8 before travelling to Old Trafford, the scene of their historic 6-1 win last season, on April 6.
City will look to keep their immaculate home record, an unbeaten run which stretches back to December 2010, in tact next term, and will face the first real test of that when Arsenal travel to Manchester on September 22, three weeks after QPR, City’s opponents on that dramatic final day, travel to the Etihad on September 1.
The presence of games against Tottenham (November 10) and Chelsea (November 24) as well as the hotly anticipated clash against United a month later ensure the run up to Christmas could be key to the outcome of the title race.
Over the festive period City will take a trip to the Stadium of Light to take on Sunderland on Boxing Day, a game which looked as though it would have disastrous consequences for Mancini’s men last season as Ji Dong-won’s last gasp goal dealt a huge blow to the Champions elect’s bid for glory.
City will enjoy the comforts of home on New Year’s Day when they take on Stoke, while trips to Arsenal and QPR follow in January.
In their final run-in, City face Swansea and newly-promoted Reading on the road in May, before ending their season against Norwich at the Etihad Stadium.
Before getting their league campaign under way, Manchester City will face Chelsea in the FA Community Shield, held at Villa Park because of the London Olympics this summer.
Some of City’s fixtures will be subject to change because of games for TV broadcast.