Manchester United Louis Van Gaal Ryan Giggs
All eyes will be on new Manchester United manager Louis Van GaalReuters

In what could very well be the most competitive and close English Premier League seasons of all time, Manchester City will look to defend their title, with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham all looking to usurp them to the coveted crown.

Nothing excites more than the opening weekend, and boy do we have a few crackerjack matches scheduled, with Manchester United, led by their new manager Louis Van Gaal, set to open the campaign with a match against Swansea City.

Arsenal are also in action on Saturday, in the late game, with Manchester City opening their defence a day later, along with Liverpool. Chelsea will wait until Monday night to get their season started.

Below is the schedule, fixtures, timings, quick preview and predictions of the opening weekend of games.

Saturday: Manchester United vs Swansea at Old Trafford (12.45 pm BST, 7.45 am ET, 5.15 pm IST): This time last season, Manchester United also faced Swansea, and eased past them as everything looked promising in the David Moyes, post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. However, that result, with Robin Van Persie coming to the fore, proved to be a false dawn, and then some, leading to United's worst ever Premier League campaign.

So, Van Gaal will know even if his side perform well against Swansea on Saturday afternoon, it will mean little. That should not stop them from jumping off the blocks and getting their campaign off to a brilliant start, though. In Swansea, they face a team that many have tipped to go down, having lost the likes of Michu, Chico Flores, Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez.

However, Gary Monk remains confident of this side, which boasts of two potent strikers in Wilfried Bony and Bafetimbi Gomis.

Prediction: 4-2 to Manchester United

Leicester City vs Everton at King Power Stadium (3 pm BST, 10 am ET, 7.30 pm IST): Leicester make their return to the English Premier League after a while, and the Championship winners will be keen to make a good first impression. However, in Everton they come up against a side looking to improve on their fifth-place finish last season, with Roberto Martinez affirming the team's position amongst the top few by shelling out all of £28 million on Romelu Lukaku.

The Toffees' preseason hasn't been great, but Everton should be able to make a cracking start to their Premier League campaign against the newly-promoted side.

Prediction: 2-0 to Everton

Queens Park Rangers vs Hull City at Loftus Road (3 pm BST, 10 am ET, 7.30 pm IST): Harry Redknapp and QPR return to the Premier League after a two-year gap and having made a few interesting acquisitions plenty have tipped Rangers to survive the drop easily enough this season. However, much will be learnt when they host Hull, who were so impressive under Steve Bruce last season, nearly winning the FA Cup, before Arsenal's stirring comeback.

Prediction: 1-1

Stoke City vs Aston Villa at the Britannia (3 pm BST, 10 am ET, 7.30 pm IST): Most of the talk surrounding Stoke during the summer has been about their capture of Bojan Krkic from Barcelona, with the Spaniard expected to be one of the signings of the season. Mark Hughes did exceedingly well to lead Stoke to a ninth-place finish last season, and the Potters will need to play out of their skins to better that finish this time around.

Aston Villa, on the other hand, are not in the greatest of moments, with question marks still hanging around over their ownership, and Paul Lambert making a few really-are-you-sure signings.

Prediction: 2-1 to Stoke City

West Bromwich Albion vs Sunderland at the Hawthorns (3 pm BST, 10 am ET, 7.30 pm IST): The Baggies only just about managed to stay up last season, finishing 17th, and with Gus Poyet's men making a few astute signings – the most eye-catching of them being Jack Rodwell from Manchester City -- it will be interesting to see which side comes out on top.

Prediction: 1-1

West Ham United vs Tottenham at Upton Park (3 pm BST, 10 am ET, 7.30 pm IST): Spurs have another new manager at the helm, and this time around Mauricio Pochettino is expected to not only provide results but some expansive, entertaining football as well.

There haven't been too many new faces coming in at White Hart Lane this season, nothing like last summer, and with the team from North London having a pretty strong squad at their disposal, it will be up to Pochettino to get the best out of them and make a sustained challenge for the top four.

Standing in their way on the opening day are West Ham, who under Sam Allardyce, will look to improve on their 13th-place finish last season. Allardyce's future has been up in the air for a while now, but the veteran manager will be determined to show he is the man for the job with a convincing victory in front of their own fans come Saturday.

Prediction: 2-1 to Tottenham

Arsenal Community Shield Cazorla
Arsenal will look to continue their winning momentum when they host Crystal PalaceReuters

Arsenal vs Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium (5.30 pm BST, 12.30 pm ET, 10 pm IST): Arsene Wenger has already brought in four quality players this summer, with the most exciting of those being Alexis Sanchez. A couple more are expected to be brought in before the close of the transfer window, but it has been a while since the Gunners have started their season with such a positive feeling reverberating around the side.

The Community Shield victory over Manchester City was as convincing as they come, and Wenger will want his team to carry on that form against Crystal Palace, who suffered a massive blow with Tony Pulis, the man who single-handedly turned around their season when they looked doomed for the drop, leaving the London side.

Prediction: 3-0 to Arsenal

Sunday: Liverpool vs Southampton at Anfield (1.30 pm BST, 8.30 am ET, 6 pm IST): Over the summer three players from Southampton, who are on major rebuilding mode under new manager Ronaldo Koeman, have moved to Liverpool, and there will be a definite edge to this game. While Adam Lallana will miss the match against his former side, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren will be keen to give their new side the first win of their season.

Much of the talk has, of course, been about Luis Suarez, and just how much Liverpool will miss him over the season. The only thing Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool can do to quieten the naysayers is by winning games, and Sunday, at home, against Southampton is as good a place to start as any.

Prediction: 4-2 to Liverpool

Newcastle vs Manchester City at St. James' Park (4 pm BST, 11 am ET, 8.30 pm IST): The last time these two teams met on opening day, last season, City thumped the Magpies 4-0. With Manuel Pellegrini's men wearing a settled look with a few more interesting signings coming in during the summer, they will be primed to begin their title defence on the best possible note.

Alan Pardew, though, has made some really good buys during this summer transfer window, including the likes of Daryl Janmaat, Siem De Jong and Remy Cabella, and Newcastle will not be as easy an opposition as they were this time last season.

Prediction: 2-1 to Manchester City

Monday: Burnley vs Chelsea at Turf Moor (8 pm BST, 3 pm ET, 12.30 am IST): Jose Mourinho has made three brilliant signings, while also bringing back a club legend. Most pundits have tipped Chelsea to clinch the Premier League title, and with the Portuguese having no excuses this time around, he will want to make the best start possible.

Burnley could not have asked for a more difficult start to their Premier League campaign, having finished second in the Championship last season.

Prediction: 3-0 to Chelsea

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