Premier League Week 1 Fixtures: Must-Watch Games to Open Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11:  Phil Jones and Chris Smalling of Manchester United lead the celebrations with team mates after victory in the FA Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Wembley Stadium on August 11, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

You know the Premier League season has started. You know when and against whom your team is playing. And you know, for the first time ever, that in the United States you can either watch on television or stream every game via NBC, the NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports Extra.

But which games will you watch? That's the question. 

I've been asking myself the same thing, so I decided to pick three games any fan should make an effort to see this weekend (and Monday). There might not be any clashes between title contenders to start the season, but there are plenty of intriguing storylines and interesting matchups to follow right off the bat.

Chelsea vs. Hull City

C'mon, you want to see the new reign of Jose Mourinho begin, don't you?

You want to see how Mourinho organizes a deep lineup. You want to see if young players like Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Marco van Ginkel crack the starting 11. You want to see how last year's dominant attacking trio, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata, will be utilized. 

And you want see how Mourinho will find time for old favorites like John Terry, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien. 

This is a deep, talented squad that has been a popular pick to win the Premier League this season. Hull City is the first step in that journey. 

Kind of makes you feel bad for Hull City, huh?

Manchester City vs. Newcastle

Manchester City is my pick to win the Premier League this season, so obviously I'm excited to see how the team looks in the first game under new manager Manuel Pellegrini. 

While I think certain things are certainties—Jesus Navas and David Silva should start on the wings, Yaya Toure will be a regular fixture in the midfield, as will Vincent Kompany be for the defense—there will be some moving parts here.

Who will start at forward? Will Stevan Jovetic play in the hole behind a primary striker, or will Pellegrini go with a two-striker system, pairing together two from the trio of Edin Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo?

City should have something they seemed to lack under Roberto Mancini last season—a consistent structure. I'm excited to see how they open their season against a Newcastle team that probably won't put up much of a fight. 

Manchester United vs. Swansea City

The Red Devils could come into this game somewhat distracted, what with the Wayne Rooney situation remaining in the papers and the lack of a key addition on the transfer market this summer. Last year's champs are very talented, of course, but a shaky preseason could see this team enter the Premier League season in mediocre form. 

Swansea City, meanwhile, played quite well last season and were certainly a fun team to watch. Alongside last season's "Where did he come from?" bargain-bin hero, Michu, the team did some solid business on the market this year, adding forward Wilfried Bony, promising youngster Jonjo Shelvey and Alejandro Pozuelo.

This is a pretty solid roster up and down the pitch, with Ashley Williams and Ben Davies anchoring the defense. United will likely win, but with a dearth of high-profile matches this week, don't be surprised if this match is the highlight of the opening weekend.  

Opening Week Schedule

7:45 a.m. ET (12:45 p.m. BST)LiverpoolStoke City
10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)ArsenalAston Villa
10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)Norwich CityEverton
10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)SunderlandFulham
10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)West Bromwich AlbionSouthampton
10 a.m. ET (3 p.m. BST)West Ham UnitedCardiff City
12:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. BST)Swansea CityManchester United
8:30 a.m. ET (1:30 p.m. BST)Crystal PalaceTottenham Hotspur
11 a.m. ET (4 p.m. BST)ChelseaHull City
3 p.m. ET (8 p.m. BST)Manchester CityNewcastle United

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