Rio Ferdinand believes that Manchester United's start to their title defence is the toughest in his 11 years at the club.
United start on 17 August with a trip to Swansea City, before José Mourinho's Chelsea visit in David Moyes's first home game as manager. United then travel to Liverpool, before Crystal Palace are the visitors and on 22 September Moyes closes his opening five games in charge with a trip to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City in the derby.
"It focuses us, definitely. There's no easing our way into the league this year," he said. "We've got to be ready to go from the off. We've got some big games in there but Swansea away is a really tough place to start. We've got to make sure we're ready for the start of the season because our first five games are probably the toughest that I've ever seen.
"With a new manager coming in, we're going to be focused anyway, with people looking to prove themselves and places up for grabs. There's an excitement in the squad and that will build as the start of the season gets closer."