The English Premier League starts today

August 19th, 2006  

Topic: The English Premier League starts today

in 2 hours sheffied united play Liverpool, can't wait

Clubs set for Premiership restart
Opening weekend fixtures

Mourinho is aiming for his third consecutive Premiership title

The 2006-07 Premiership season starts on Saturday with Chelsea bidding to make it three titles in a row.

The Blues want to emulate Manchester United, who are the only team with three consecutive Premiership triumphs, winning between 1998 and 2001.

United, Arsenal and Liverpool are tipped to be Chelsea's nearest rivals.

Reading, Sheffield United and Watford will hope to match West Ham and Wigan, who impressed last season after promotion from the Championship.

The big Premiership clubs have all been busy in the transfer market and a number of the big names from the World Cup in Germany will be making their debuts in England's top league.

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea have been bolstered by two big-name summer signings, midfielder Michael Ballack from Bayern Munich and striker Andriy Shevchenko from AC Milan.

Liverpool have been arguably the busiest of the big clubs, snapping up Craig Bellamy from Blackburn for 6m, Jermaine Pennant from Birmingham for 6.7m) and Gabriel Paletta from Atletico Banfield for 2m.

The Reds are also set to sign striker Dirk Kuyt from Feyenoord in a deal believed to be worth about 10m.

Manchester United have captured England midfielder Michael Carrick from Tottenham in a deal which could be worth 18.6m - although the 25-year-old will miss the opening weeks of the season with a foot injury.

And Arsenal signed for Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Rosicky from Borussia Dortmund.

And there is likely to be more transfer activity before the transfer window closes on 31 August.

Chelsea are still being linked with a move for Arsenal left-back Ashley Cole and Manchester United are expected to sign Bayern Munich's Owen Hargreaves.

A clutch of young managers will be doing their best to upset the established order in the Premiership.

Watford's Aidy Boothroyd has many admirers after turning the Hornets from Championship strugglers to play-off winners in little more than 12 months.

Reading's Steve Coppell masterminded a brilliant Championship campaign last season which saw the Royals set a new points record of 106.

Iain Dowie has taken over at Charlton, while Middlesbrough have turned to Gareth Southgate to fill the gap left by Steve McClaren's departure to take over the England team.

Premiership fixtures for the opening weekend:

Saturday (1500 BST kick-off unless stated)
Arsenal v Aston Villa
Bolton v Tottenham, (1715 BST)
Everton v Watford
Newcastle v Wigan
Portsmouth v Blackburn
Reading v Middlesbrough
Sheff Utd v Liverpool (1245 BST)
West Ham v Charlton

Chelsea v Man City (1600 BST)
Man Utd v Fulham, (1330 BST)

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