- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Manchester City begins the defense of its English Premier League title away to Newcastle, the same opposition it started its championship-winning campaign against with a 4-0 win last season, then faces Liverpool at home.

The 2014-15 league fixtures, starting on Aug. 16-17, were announced on Wednesday.

Manchester United, with new Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, will play all three newly promoted sides - Burnley, Queens Park Rangers, Leicester - in its opening five games.

The first Manchester derby is at City on Nov. 1.

Liverpool starts off at home against Ronald Koeman’s Southampton, then travels to City and has another difficult away game against Tottenham. It hosts Merseyside rival Everton on Sept. 27, and encounters United for the first time at Old Trafford on Dec. 13.

The Merseyside derby is not the only clash between two fierce rivals scheduled for Sept. 27. Arsenal also hosts Tottenham that day in the first clash of the season between the north London teams.

Arsenal follows that game by playing Chelsea on Oct. 4, when new signing Cesc Fabregas will face his former club. Jose Mourinho’s side travel to City on Sept. 20, and to Anfield on Nov. 8.

But should Chelsea mount a title charge, it has arguably the toughest finish compared to its rivals. It goes to Old Trafford in the reverse fixture against United on April 18 and a week later plays Arsenal at Stamford Bridge.

On May 9, it has Liverpool at home.

In comparison, City plays none of last season’s top four in the final three months. Its toughest game in that time will most likely be when it makes the short trip across Manchester to United on April 11.

Liverpool’s finish includes United at home on March 21, Arsenal away on April 4, and back in the capital for Chelsea in May.

Van Gaal has a tricky end to his first season at the helm of United, with City and Chelsea on April 11 and 18 respectively. That’s followed by an away trip to Everton, and United’s penultimate game is against Arsenal at Old Trafford.