Premier League Week 1 Fixtures: Predicting Top Performers on Opening Weekend
With the new Premier League season almost upon us, now is the perfect time to glance ahead at the opening fixtures and see which teams, managers and players will be in direct opposition this weekend.
The league's best and brightest are expected to shine over the next 10 months but, in a one-off game, a lot will depend on who's playing who and where.
Ten intriguing matches will play out between Saturday and Monday, giving each team an opportunity to start the new campaign in the best possible way—with three points.
But which teams—and players—will be sitting pretty after the opening round of fixtures?
The Black Cats host Fulham in their first game, looking to build on their successful relegation escape from the end of last season.
The 2013/14 campaign will be Paolo Di Canio's first full season as a Premier League manager, and he's wasted no time in making his mark on a squad in desperate need of an overhaul.
The Italian has already signed nine new players this summer, and while they might take a little while to gel, a 3-1 preseason win over Tottenham was an encouraging sign.
Visitors Fulham have had a miserable away record in recent years, and with boss Martin Jol still chasing players to strengthen his squad, the Cottagers will not be in perfect condition come Saturday.
A packed Stadium of Light will be right behind Di Canio and his new-look team, with the passionate atmosphere helping them secure an opening-day victory.
Key men: Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and Jozy Altidore
They might be at home to reigning champions Manchester United, but Swansea have all the tools to inflict a nightmare start on new Red Devils boss David Moyes.
Michael Laudrup enjoyed a fine debut season at the Liberty Stadium, winning the Capital One Cup and securing a top-half finish in the league.
And after strengthening his squad with nine new signings already, the Dane will be aiming for even more success during 2013/14.
The Swans face a United side who have endured a disappointing preseason despite Sunday's Community Shield victory over Wigan at Wembley.
Moyes has failed to make a senior signing during the transfer window and is still having to deal with Wayne Rooney's desire to leave Old Trafford.
He is still getting to know his squad and doesn't seem to have decided on his preferred starting XI ahead of the trip to Wales.
The home side can start the season with an upset and three points.
Key men: Ashley Williams, Michu and Wilfried Bony
Chelsea host Hull City in Jose Mourinho's first competitive game as manager since returning earlier this summer.
The Special One will undoubtedly be happy with his side's opening fixture against a side only promoted from the Championship in May.
Tigers boss Steve Bruce has moved to improve his squad with eight new signings, but getting a positive result at Stamford Bridge appears unlikely for a side still lacking strength in depth.
The home side, with a virtually fully fit squad to choose from, will expect nothing but a victory to kick-start Mourinho's second spell in charge.
Last season's Europa League winners can do it comfortably, winning the game without conceding.
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