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Champions Manchester United begin the defence of their Premiership title by tackling Bobby Robson's Newcastle at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side - champions for six of the last eight years - are favourites to add to that tally in the forthcoming season, which kicks-off on August 19.

Runners-up Arsenal travel to Wearside to take on Sunderland, while Leeds, who finished third, face Everton at Elland Road.

Division One champions Charlton and runners-up Manchester City meet at The Valley, while play-off winners Ipswich are at Tottenham.

Bradford, who beat Liverpool 1-0 at Valley Parade on the last day of last season to safeguard their Premiership place, face a tricky opener at Anfield, while London rivals Chelsea and West Ham meet at Stamford Bridge.

Peter Taylor's managerial career at UEFA Cup hopefuls Leicester starts with a home game against Aston Villa, while Coventry face Middlesbrough and Derby take on Southampton in the other opening top-flight games.

Of the three teams relegated from the Premiership, only Wimbledon start with a home game, against Worthington Cup finalists Tranmere.

Sheffield Wednesday travel to Wolves and Watford are at Huddersfield on the opening day of the Nationwide campaign, which begins a week earlier than the Premiership on August 12.

Division Two champions Preston open their First Division campaign at Grimsby, while runners-up Burnley have a Lancashire derby at Bolton. Gillingham - victorious in the play-offs prior to losing manager Taylor to Leicester - take on Stockport at Priestfield.

In the Second Division, big-spending Wigan - beaten in the play-off final by The Gills - seek to put the Wembley disappointment behind them on the opening day at Swansea, while Rotherham, who finished runners-up to The Swans in Division Three last season, take on Walsall - relegated from Division One.

Kidderminster begin their Football League campaign with a home game. Jan Molby's Nationwide Conference champions will play Torquay at Aggborough.

Premiership fixtures August 19

Charlton v Manchester City
Chelsea v West Ham
Coventry v Middlesbrough
Derby v Southampton
Leeds v Everton
Leicester v Aston Villa
Liverpool v Bradford
Manchester United v Newcastle
Sunderland v Arsenal
Tottenham v Ipswich


It should be interesting to see if Bobby Robson and co can pull off a shock against Manchester on the opening day.
 
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