Defining Moments: 15 Matchups That Will Shape the 2014/15 Premier League Season
The Premier League starts on 16 August, and there will be many fixtures throughout the campaign that will have a big bearing on who wins the title and who succumbs to relegation.
Manchester City are the titleholders, but they’re expected to have competition from Chelsea in 2014/15, while the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool could be fighting for the two other Champions League places.
The relegation battle could be wide open, however, with Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers, Burnley, West Brom, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and even Hull City all trying to avoid the bottom three places in the table.
But which games could be defining moments in the Premier League this season?
Liverpool vs. Everton
The first Merseyside derby of the new season on 27 September could give an indication of how either side’s campaign could go.
Liverpool thrashed the Toffees 4-0 at home last season, but their meeting at Anfield in 2014/15 promises to be a tighter affair as Everton have strengthened.
With the latter hoping to remain in the top six this season to stay in the Europa League, they can ill afford to lose ground on the Reds when they face them, so it’s an important game not just for city bragging rights.
Leicester City vs. West Bromwich Albion
Leicester and West Brom play out what will likely be a relegation six-pointer on 1 November at the King Power Stadium. While no side will be relegated in November, every point is crucial for a side expecting to be among the bottom-half teams for the majority of the campaign.
With the bookmakers having both sides down to struggle in the division this season, whoever wins the three points from such an important match could well be taking a step closer to safety from the early exchanges.
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
The first Manchester derby of the 2014/15 campaign will be played on 2 November at the Etihad Stadium.
After the Red Devils lost both home and away fixtures in the league to City last season, there will be added spice as Manchester United will be out for revenge.
The league table will have started to take some shape by the time the two sides meet, too, so November’s clash could well be an early title race six-pointer.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea
Liverpool vs. Chelsea is regarded by many as the fixture that lost the Reds the title last season, and the Merseyside outfit will be determined to put that right this time around.
Brendan Rodgers’ side lost 2-0 at home to Chelsea in 2013/14, so expect an emotionally charged game from start to finish when the two sides meet at Anfield on 8 November.
It could be Liverpool harming Chelsea’s title chances this time around.
Burnley vs. Aston Villa
Burnley hosting Aston Villa on 29 November at Turf Moor is likely to be another battle of the relegation-threatened sides.
The Clarets are firm favourites to finish rock bottom of the Premier League this season, while Aston Villa have finished in the bottom half of the table in their last three seasons, so this game will be important for both entities’ Premier League futures.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
It’s another revenge mission for Manchester United when they face fierce rivals Liverpool on 13 December.
United lost twice to the Reds last season, while failing to score in either game, too, so it’s imperative for Louis van Gaal’s side to finally turn that around.
Both teams are holding out slim hopes of challenging for the title, so their meeting at Old Trafford could be defining.
Liverpool vs. Arsenal
Another potential title race six-pointer could be played at Anfield between Liverpool and Arsenal on 20 December.
The Gunners were humiliated by Liverpool last season, losing 5-1 back in March, but they have a much stronger side this campaign and will be confident of revenge.
Queens Park Rangers vs. Crystal Palace
Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace could be desperately fighting for Premier League survival by the time their meeting on 28 December approaches.
Both sides will have this game pencilled down as a must win, as the loser could well be ending the year in the relegation zone. As a result, neither outfit can entertain the prospect of dropping points.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Hull City
West Brom and Hull City both ended the last campaign in the bottom half of the Premier League table, so their meeting at the Hawthorns on 10 January in 2015 could well drag the loser closer to the relegation zone, while the winner may extend their lead from the drop.
The media may choose to highlight the pressure on the managers in the buildup to the match, too, with such important relegation battles often jokingly called "El Sackico."
Chelsea vs. Manchester City
Chelsea host Manchester City at Stamford Bridge on 31 January 2015, with many expecting this season’s title winners to be the side who takes all three points from the meeting.
Last season, the Blues won both home and away against City, but with the title likely to be directly on the line this time around, City will want revenge.
Liverpool vs. Manchester City
Liverpool could play an important role in the title race this season even if they’re not the side directly involved.
Their meeting at Anfield against Manchester City on 28 February could see the Citizens’ title challenge collapse if they lose again away to the Reds as they did last season.
Liverpool vs. Manchester City was a contender for game of the season in 2013/14, and it could be again this campaign with so much potentially riding on it.
Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion
The two Midlands clubs have played out some extraordinary games in recent years, with last season’s goalfests providing brilliant entertainment for a Midlands derby and relegation battle.
Villa drew 2-2 with the Baggies in November 2013, and they emerged victorious from a seven-goal thriller in January 2014.
This season should be no different as neither will want to lose a derby match when they lock horns on 3 March 2015. Expect fireworks.
Hull City vs. Burnley
Hull City’s meeting with newly promoted side Burnley on 9 May 2015 could be a relegation six-pointer this season, with the loser resigned to the drop, while the winner could confirm their Premier League status for another campaign.
Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The last day of the 2014/15 season promises to be eventful as there could be a playoff for the Europa League places when Everton face Tottenham Hotspur.
Both sides meet at Goodison Park on 24 May 2015, with the winner potentially taking the last place in Europe, meaning there could be wild celebrations for the victor.
Leicester City vs. Queens Park Rangers
Supporters will have been licking their lips after seeing this final fixture of the season.
Both newly promoted sides Leicester City and Queens Park Rangers could be having a playoff for Premier League survival at the King Power Stadium in what will be the last game of their respective campaigns on 24 May 2015.