Premier League fixtures: Champions Chelsea prepare title defence
The Premier League fixtures are out for the 2017-18 season -- here are five to watch for Chelsea.
The Blues will open Tottenham's tenure at Wembley Stadium in the second weekend of the new campaign and face what could be a tricky run-in that involves taking on Liverpool at Stamford Bridge at the beginning of May.
(A) - Aug. 19, 2017
(H) - March 31, 2018
Chelsea-Tottenham is fast becoming the most important rivalry in English football. The grand setting of Wembley in the second week of the 2017-18 season will add a new dimension to the hostilities, as well as evoking memories of April's classic FA Cup semifinal. Spurs will also have another chance to end their 27-year winless run at Stamford Bridge in March.
(H) - Sept. 16, 2017
(A) - Jan. 1, 2018
Defeats to the Gunners bookended Chelsea's surge to the Premier League title last season, with a humiliation at the Emirates in September prompting Antonio Conte's switch to 3-4-3 and a shock loss at Wembley in May shattering his hopes of winning the FA Cup. The best Chelsea teams handle Arsenal easily, so their results in these two games will be a good measure of their title chances.
(H) - Nov. 4, 2017
(A) - Feb. 24, 2018
Last season confirmed that Jose Mourinho's days as the darling of Stamford Bridge are well and truly over. He will be under huge pressure to deliver a Premier League title challenge in his second season at United, while Conte knows that every win over Chelsea's greatest-ever manager enhances his own legacy. The fixture computer brings Mourinho back to his former home on Nov. 4, the day before Bonfire Night. Expect early fireworks.
(H) - Sept. 30, 2017
(A) - March 3, 2018
Conte became the first manager to do a league double over Pep Guardiola last season, with a 3-1 win at the Etihad in December arguably the most impressive result of Chelsea's campaign. City should be a tougher proposition after another summer of big spending and it's not a stretch to imagine a scenario in which these are the two best teams in England next season.
(A) - Nov. 25, 2017
(H) - May 5, 2017
Jurgen Klopp has visited Stamford Bridge twice as Liverpool manager and tasted only victory. With next season's fixture set for early May, another win in west London could prove even more significant for the former Borussia Dortmund boss and devastating for Chelsea's title defence. The Blues have not lost at Anfield in any of their five previous Premier League title-winning campaigns, so emerging with a victory from their clash on Nov. 25 will feel more significant than three points.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.