Manchester City's European dream fuelled by friendly fixtures


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The Independent Football

Manchester City may have received their first advantage in the 2012/13 title race, after yesterday's publication of the Premier League fixtures. City will follow just one of their six Champions League group games with an away Premier League tie while Manchester United will play away on five of those six weekends, including games at Liverpool and Chelsea.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has expressed his frustration before with frequent away ties after European games.

Chelsea also have only one away game after a European night while Arsenal have three trips to make.

Manchester City, the Premier League champions, will start their title defence at home against Southampton on the weekend of 18 August.

Roberto Mancini's side then travel to Liverpool before hosting Queen's Park Rangers, a repeat of the final-day fixture they won 3-2 last month to secure their first title since 1968. City, noticeably, have a fairly easy run-in next season: their last four games are against West Ham United, Swansea City, Reading and Norwich City.

The trip to the Etihad Stadium is the start of a difficult return to the Premier League for newly promoted Southampton.

Nigel Adkins' side have a home tie with Manchester United as well as trips to Arsenal and Everton in September.

Manchester United, who lost out to City on goal difference in the title race last season, begin their efforts to regain the title with a trip to Everton, before playing Fulham, Southampton and Wigan Athletic. The first Manchester derby is at the Etihad Stadium on the weekend of 8 December. United host City at Old Trafford on 6 April, 2013.

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool tenure will start with a testing run of games. After travelling to West Bromwich Albion, Liverpool face Manchester City, Arsenal, Sunderland and Manchester United. The first Merseyside derby is at Goodison Park on 27 October.

The Scottish Premier League fixtures were also announced yesterday, notably including "Club 12". The SPL clubs are yet to decide on whether the "newco" Rangers can play in the SPL following their liquidation. The clubs are due to make their decision by 4 July. Club 12 – whether that be Rangers or someone else – will travel to Kilmarnock on 4 August.