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Double winners Manchester United will run into treble trouble in the first week of their title defence.

Wimbledon's Crazy Gang are revving up to help knock the crown off their heads on the opening day and following hot on their heels are Joe Royle's highly-fancied Everton and fallen champs Blackburn Rovers.

Alex Ferguson chewed over the new season's fixture list for the Premier League when it was revealed yesterday - and nearly choked at the prospect.

The champions head for Selhurst Park for starters and Dons star Robbie Earle can't wait.

Midfield dynamo Earle said: "It couldn't be better for us. Playing the champions will give the game that extra edge.

"It's better meeting United early in the season before they get settled. They lost at Villa last season and everybody said they were having a crisis.

"The place will be buzzing - and we love that kind of atmosphere.''

If United and Eric Cantona survive that one they run into dark horses Everton, who have the toughest start of any team in the Premiership. But they don't mind a bit.

Royle's men take on Newcastle, Spurs and Villa as well as United in a blistering beginning that had the Everton boss musing: "We should know how much we've improved after those games.

"It's a hard start but I prefer it that way.''

Next up at Old Trafford are Blackburn, the side whose title was wrenched off them by the red army after just one year in Lancashire,

Liverpool, meanwhile, have an easier start. The Robbie Fowler-inspired Reds travel to Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough.
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Nixon, Alan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 18, 1996
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