The start of the new Premier League season is nearly upon us, with kick-offs up and down the country scheduled for 3pm on 12 September.
Liverpool are out to defend their crown after winning their first league title for 30 years last campaign. But the Reds face stiff competition from Manchester City, while there are a number of teams pushing to land top four spots.
The competition is likely to be just as fierce at the other end of the table, with newly-prompted Leeds, West Brom and Fulham trying to avoid the drop and last season's stragglers looking to steer clear of a relegation scrap.
But which teams stand the best chance of getting off to an all-important strong start? We have crunched the numbers and here are the findings…
The toughest starts
Well, West Ham United have the toughest start to the Premier League season, on paper at least.
The Hammers’ opening eight games – which takes them to the second international break – see them face Newcastle, Arsenal, Wolves, Leicester, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Fulham.
Those sides had an average finishing league position of 7.8 between them last season – a higher average than any other Premier League club’s first eight opponents.
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal and title contenders Manchester City have the next toughest set of opponents leading up to the international break. The sides they’ll come up against had an average finishing league position of 9.1 last season.
That’s followed by returning giants Leeds (9.4), last season's overachievers Sheffield United (9.6) and Newcastle (10.0).
The easiest opening runs
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Scott Parker steered Fulham back to the Premier League just one season after suffering relegation and the Cottagers have the easiest opening set of fixtures on paper. Their opponents had an average finishing league position of 13.5 last season.
Jose Mourinho will hope to get the campaign underway in strong fashion in his first full season as Tottenham boss, as Spurs have the next easiest start (12.4).
Then follow a trio of European hopefuls in Wolves (12.1), Leicester (12.1) and Southampton (11.9).
As a caveat to the calculations, Leeds, West Brom and Fulham were given league positions of 18, 19 and 20 respectively for the purposes of the calculation.
And as their opening weekend matches have been postponed, Aston Villa, Burnley, Manchester City, Manchester United have only had seven games counted.
First eight opponents' average league position
Club // Average
West Ham United // 7.8
Arsenal // 9.1
Manchester City // 9.1
Leeds United // 9.4
Sheffield United // 9.6
Newcastle United // 10.0
Brighton // 10.1
Chelsea // 10.3
Everton // 10.3
Aston Villa // 10.3
Manchester United // 10.3
West Bromwich Albion // 10.4
Burnley // 10.4
Liverpool // 10.8
Crystal Palace // 11.3
Southampton // 11.9
Leicester City // 12.1
Wolverhampton // 12.1
Tottenham Hotspur // 12.4
Fulham // 13.5
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