City start PL season against Southampton as fixtures for 2012-13 are announced



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor



Manchester City won their first league title since 1968 last season as manager Roberto Mancini (left) and striker Carlos Tevez (right) hold the trophy 



Premier League title winners Manchester City will begin the defence of their crown against newly-promoted Southampton at the Etihad Stadium when the 2012-13 season gets underway on 18th August.

Roberto Mancini's City, who hadn't been victorious in a race for the championship since 1968, will kick-off their campaign at home as they look to maintain their success by starting with a victory against Nigel Adkin's Saints- who came runners-up in the Npower Championship despite leading the table for much of the season as they make their first return to the top-flight since relegation in 2004. City continue with a tricky trip to Anfield to face Liverpool in the weekend of 25th August as Brendan Rodgers takes charge of his first home match. Manchester United, who lost the league title on goal difference in 2011-12, begin their quest to steal the trophy back from their rivals by travelling to Everton on weekend one.

Championship winners Reading begin life back in the top-flight with a home match against Stoke City while West Ham United , who beat Blackpool in the play-off final, play host to Aston Villa at Upton Park as Paul Lambert begins his tenure as Alex McLeish's successor to the throne for the Villans.

West Bromwich Albion's new head coach Steve Clarke goes head-to-head with the club he left as an assistant manager to join the West Midlands club as Liverpool come to the Hawthorns on the opening day. However, Liverpool, who won only six matches on their own ground in the Premier League last season, then have a tough baptism with their first Anfield games pencilled in as being against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United. Roberto Di Matteo's reign on a permanent basis with Chelsea begins against Wigan Athletic, who avoided the drop, at the DW Stadium.

Newcastle, who enjoyed an impressive campaign narrowly missing out on Champions League football, begin against Tottenham at St James Park with the North London club on the hunt for a new manager after the surprise sacking of Harry Redknapp. Arsenal host Sunderland while Chris Hughton's first match as Norwich City boss is away to Fulham. Michael Laudrup takes charge of his first game as Swansea's new manager is also away from home to last season's final day survivors Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

The first Manchester derby of the season takes place at the Etihad Stadium on 8th December with the return fixture at Old Trafford being played on 6th April. United host Newcastle on Boxing Day meanwhile City travel to their Tyne-Wear rivals Sunderland. The North East derby will be on 20th October at the Stadium of Light. The first Merseyside derby at Goodison Park will be played on 27th October.

Also on Boxing Day, Arsenal play West Ham at the Emirates Stadium while their north London nemesis Tottenham travel to Aston Villa. Everton host Wigan, Fulham are at home to Southampton with Chelsea making the trip to Norwich City. Queens Park Rangers battle it out with West Brom at Loftus Road and Reading are up against Swansea City for the first time since the 2011 Championship play-off final which they lost when they meet at the Madejski Stadium. In the day's other fixture, Liverpool are not in for a festive greeting when they make the always-difficult trip to Stoke City having never won at the Britannia Stadium before.

On the final day of the season, Manchester City are at home to Norwich City, Manchester United play West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns while Chelsea host Everton. Liverpool are in action against Queens Park Rangers at Anfield, Newcastle United are up against Arsenal in a repeat of last season's opening day fixture and Sunderland will face Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Brian McDermott will take his Reading team to fellow promoted side West Ham United meanwhile Southampton end the season infront of their own supporters as Stoke City come to the South Coast. Swansea City host Fulham and Paul Lambert's Aston Villa make the trip to Wigan.

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