Belfast Telegraph

Martinez excited by Chelsea opener

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is looking forward to the visit of European champions Chelsea on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League season.

The 2012-13 fixtures have been revealed, with Roberto Di Matteo's FA Cup and Champions League winners providing the opposition at the DW Stadium on August 18.

Martinez told his club's official website, "Fixtures day is always one of the highlights of the calendar and we have been handed a really exciting opening again, with the Champions League winners at the DW. It is going to be a fascinating start."

"It's a cliche but every team is competitive at this level, and we need to be ready for another huge challenge over the coming months," he added.

Champions Manchester City start with a home game against newly-promoted Southampton, while Manchester United - pipped to the title on the final day of the season by their neighbours - start at Everton.

Arsenal have a home opener against Sunderland, while there is another north London/North East encounter at the Sports Direct Arena, where Newcastle take on Europa League rivals Tottenham.

Magpies boss Alan Pardew is looking forward to a repeat of last year's contest on Tyneside, which finished in an entertaining 2-2 draw. He told The Chronicle: "When you look back to last year the game with Spurs was one of the best games for us at home last season. They will have a new manager and it will be tough. But we are already looking forward to it."

Brendan Rodgers' reign at Liverpool starts with a trip to West Brom - although the Reds' first three home fixtures are more eye-catching, with Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United heading to Anfield early in the season.

If Southampton's first fixture on their return to the Premier League was testing, Reading and West Ham were given seemingly kinder starts. The Royals - back in the top flight after a four-year absence - are at home to Stoke, while Aston Villa visit Upton Park.

West Ham chairman David Gold is eyeing revenge after seeing his team make an immediate return to the Premier League. He said: "I'm pleased it's Aston Villa first. The last time we played them in our first game, two years ago, they beat us 3-0. So I'm looking forward to reversing that score."


From Belfast Telegraph