Sky open season with four live fixtures

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The Independent Online

BSkyB will launch their new £1bn three-year television deal with the Premier League with an unprecedented four live matches on the opening weekend of the season.

BSkyB will launch their new £1bn three-year television deal with the Premier League with an unprecedented four live matches on the opening weekend of the season.

The champions Arsenal form part of a Sunday double-header with their trip to Everton on 15 August being followed by Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

The previous day features the north-east derby between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, but the season is kicked off at lunchtime when new boys Jacques Santini and Raphael Benitez begin their Premiership careers as Tottenham entertain Liverpool at White Hart Lane.

With the European Commission still unhappy at Sky's dominance of the Premier League TV contracts, the new deal is likely to represent the last time the satellite channel retains exclusivity over England's top division. This season, Sky will screen 88 live matches, plus a further 50 on its Premiership Plus pay-per-view channel.

Of the 71 matches earmarked yesterday for live coverage, Manchester United's home encounters with Liverpool and Arsenal stand out, as do Chelsea's home game with Liverpool and Arsenal's trip to Anfield, plus the visits of Arsène Wenger's side to Newcastle and Chelsea.

The first Merseyside, Manchester and north London derbies of the season will also be shown, while the three promoted sides - Norwich, West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace - will all feature before the end of Augustagainst Newcastle, Aston Villa and Chelsearespectively.

Live matches to be shown before the end of August, plus selected others: Sat 14 Aug: Tottenham v Liverpool (12.45); Middlesbrough v Newcastle (17.15); Sun 15 Aug: Everton v Arsenal (14.00); Chelsea v Man United (16.05); Sat 21 Aug: Southampton v Blackburn (12.45); Sun 22 Aug: West Brom v Aston Villa (13.00); Arsenal v Middlesbrough (16.05); Tue 24 Aug: Crystal Palace v Chelsea (20.00); Wed 25 Aug: Newcastle v Norwich (20.00); Sat 28 Aug: Blackburn v Man United (12.45); Norwich v Arsenal (17.15); Sun 29 Aug: Bolton v Liverpool (16.05); Mon 30 Aug: Portsmouth v Fulham (20.00); Mon 20 Sep: Man United v Liverpool (20.00); Sun 3 Oct: Chelsea v Liverpool (16.05); Sun 24 Oct: Man United v Arsenal (16.05); Sat 6 Nov: Crystal Palace v Arsenal (17.15); Sun 7 Nov: Man United v Man City (16.05); Sat 13 Nov: Tottenham v Arsenal (12.00); Sun 14 Nov: Newcastle v Man Utd (16.05); Sun 28 Nov: Liverpool v Arsenal (16.05); Sat 4 Dec: Chelsea v Newcastle (12.45); Sat 11 Dec: Everton v Liverpool (12.45); Sun 12 Dec: Aston Villa v Birmingham (13.00); Arsenal v Chelsea (16.05); Sat 18 Dec: Liverpool v Newcastle (12.45); Wed 29 Dec: Newcastle v Arsenal (20.00).

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