While fans of 12 Premier League teams were fortunate — or unfortunate, in some cases — enough to enjoy — or endure — their team on opening day of the 2015-16 season on Saturday, eight more fanbases were made to wait. Oh, those poor souls sitting around and waiting for Monday.
[ MORE: Saturday’s opening day roundup ]
On Sunday, six more sides kick off their 2015-16 campaign, as two potential title challengers and four other sides hopeful of breaking into or remaining inside the league’s top eight or 10 places take the field.
Arsenal vs. West Ham United — 7:30 am ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
Arsene Wenger’s men open the 2015-16 season by welcoming one of their London neighbors, Slaven Bilic’s Hammers, to the Emirates Stadium. Petr Cech will make his competitive debut for Arsenal, though the Gunners will be without Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck due to injuries. Meanwhile, West Ham’s star striker Enner Valencia is set to miss 12 weeks with a damaged fibula.
Coming off of last week’s Community Shield triumph over Chelsea, Arsenal will be looking to parlay both form and confidence into three points on opening day in order to begin their PL title chase. Arsenal swept the home and away fixtures with West Ham last season, winning 3-0 at home and 2-1 away.
Newcastle United vs. Southampton — 8:30 am ET, on Live Extra
With Steve McClaren now in charge, Newcastle welcome last season’s seventh-place finishers in the league, Southampton, to St James’ Park. Despite the departures of Morgan Schneiderlin and Nathaniel Clyne over the summer, Ronald Koeman’s Saints are aiming for yet another top-half finish, though doing so with one tricky wrinkle throw into the mix — juggling the Europa League.
For the Magpies, any hints at a repeat of last season, in which they finished 15th and fought relegation into the final days of the season, could very well see McClaren’s employment terminated early. Southampton swept the home and away fixtures with Newcastle last season, winning 2-1 away and 4-0 at home.
Stoke City vs. Liverpool — 10:30 am ET, on NBCSN and Live Extra
What to make of Liverpool’s summer transfer dealings and their subsequent prospects for the 2015-16 season? Out went Raheem Sterling, but in came Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and James Milner, among others. Sunday presents a chance for Brendan Rodgers’ side to avenge a humiliating thrashing on the final day of the 2014-15 season.
As for Mark Hughes’ side, positive momentum seems to be squarely in their corner following a ninth-place finish last season and further reinforcements in the form of Glen Johnson, Ibrahim Affelay and Philipp Wollscheid. Stoke and Liverpool split last season’s fixtures with both side winning at home — 1-0 for the Reds and 6-1 for the Potters.