By Tyler Strauss

As we approach the summer, the Premier League has released their list of fixtures for next season. It is important to take a look at the most important games, with chances being that they will be large factors in Chelsea’s title defense. When looking at these matches, it’s important to not only look at the opponent, but the timing of the match, as momentum is everything. Therefore, we will discuss some of the biggest matches in Chelsea’s title defense next season.

Manchester City (A) Aug 15.

Whoever decided that Chelsea will play Manchester City in round 2 of fixtures seems to enjoy confrontation. Many people will argue that it has little meaning, because it’s 3 points so early on in the season. However, they are sorely mistaken. This match has title implications written all over it. The two teams are probably considered the two biggest challengers for the title, with Arsenal and Manchester United in the mix, depending on their transfer dealings this summer. Therefore, with it being two of the major teams, it’s a 6 point game, given the chance to go 3 points ahead of a title rival. Furthermore, it has a strong chance to set the tone for the season as a whole. Both teams will retool this offseason, adding and selling players where they see fit. It’ll be the first real test of either squad, and because it’s so early on, there’s a good chance that either manager won’t know their preferred 11 by then. This match should help determine who is the favorite out of the two teams this season .

Manchester United (A) Dec 28.

In the footballing calendar year, there are often check points along the season that help measure a title run. New Year’s Day tends to serve as a major determinant of where teams will end up at the end of the campaign. Traveling to Manchester United a few days before, will be a huge box on Jose Mourinho’s checklist of big games to win. Make no mistake, United will be a contender next season. They already made a late push this season, and there is no doubt in my mind, that they will add wisely over the summer. It’s a game that Chelsea must go into the “Theater of Dreams” and come out with at least a point, preferably three. When the dust settles on New Year’s Day, this match will be a major teller of where Chelsea will sit in the table.

Liverpool (A) Mar. 12

Liverpool is always a team that is going to give Chelsea problems. That hard fought aggregate semifinal in the Capital One Cup last season is proof of that. Chelsea will do well to dispatch Liverpool, with or without Raheem Sterling, or whoever they will have signed in his place. Chelsea must get all three points from their match against Liverpool.

Manchester City (H) Apr. 16

Manchester City has become Chelsea’s biggest title rival. They will retool this offseason, and there is a good chance this game will be the title decider. Therefore, at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea must seek to get all three points from this match.

For more from Tyler Strauss, follow him on Twitter.