Manchester City begin their Premier League title defence with a Super Sunday trip to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men beat West Ham United 2-0 on the final day of the season to lift their second top-flight crown in three years.
Despite playing second fiddle to Liverpool for much of the season’s run-in, City were always poised to overtake Brendan Rodgers’ side with a game in-hand and victory over the Hammers in front of a home crowd sparked scenes of jubilation once again at the Etihad Stadium.
After finishing runners-up to city rivals Manchester United the previous year, Pellegrini’s Citizens returned to the Premier League summit in free-flowing style, scoring a remarkable 102 goals.
City’s ambitions go beyond merely defending their domestic crown, however, as they will be desperate to stamp their authority on the UEFA Champions League following their Round of 16 exit to Barcelona last term.
Pellegrini’s men did little to underline their credentials in last Sunday’s Community Shield match, however, with Arsenal running out 3-0 victors in the traditional season precursor between the league and FA Cup winners.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s targets will be much more modest for the coming season after a year of steady progress under the tutelage of Alan Pardew.
Having narrowly avoided relegation the previous season, Pardew guided the Magpies to a highly-respectable 10th-place finish and some shrewd summer signings should pave the way for more progress.
Jack Colback has crossed the Tyne-Wear divide to join from Sunderland and could be joined by fellow new arrival Remy Cabella for Sunday’s visit of the Premier League champions.
However, summer signing Siem de Jong will be denied a Newcastle debut on the opening weekend; the Ducthman instead joins Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse on Pardew’s injury list.
Argentine striker Sergio Aguero, who netted 17 goals for City last term – beaten only to Yaya Toure, faces a race against time to make Sunday’s starting squad.
Pellegrini is yet to rule out the free-scoring forward but a groin injury is threatening to keep him sidelined.
City’s close-season capture Eliaquin Mangala will definitely not feature with the defender only arriving at the club on Monday following his protracted £32million move from Porto.
Captain Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart, Bacary Sagna, Fernandinho and loan signing Frank Lampard are in contention after sitting out the Community Shield clash.