Premier League champions Leicester City begin the defence of their top-flight crown with a trip to the KCOM Stadium to face newly-promoted Hull City on Saturday lunchtime, as the 2016/17 season commences in front of the Sky television cameras.
The Foxes, who caused the biggest shock in English football history when they claimed the title after finishing 10-points clear of second-placed Arsenal, will have been buoyed with news that manager Claudio Ranieri has agreed a new four-year contract at the King Power Stadium.
After defying the odds of 5,000-1 to win their inaugural top-tier divisional trophy in 132 years of existence, all eyes will be on the men from the East Midlands in the forthcoming campaign.
Despite the departure of N’Golo Kante to Chelsea, Leicester have managed to hold onto the influential pair of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, as well as strengthening their squad with the £13m signing of striker Ahmed Musa from CSKA Moscow, Nampalys Mendy from Nice and Poland international Bartosz Kapustka.
Hull, by contrast, are currently without a manager following Steve Bruce’s resignation in July, so Mike Phelan will take caretaker charge for the Tigers’ opening fixture.
The departure of Bruce, who lost out to Sam Allardyce over the England managerial position, was a bitter blow to swallow for Hull supporters, especially after the 55-year-old guided them back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
Having gained promotion under the Wembley arch after Mohamed Diame’s solitary strike saw off Sheffield Wednesday in the play-off final, the Humberside club are back in the big time, following a hiatus of one campaign after they concluded the regular season in fourth position in the Championship.
In what has been an indifferent summer of transfer activity, Diame agreed a switch to Newcastle United, while there was some positive news, as Tom Huddlestone signed a new two-year contract.
The last Premier League fixture played between the sides at the KCOM Stadium came on December 28, 2014, as Mahrez’s only goal of the game confirmed a 1-0 win for Leicester.
The Hull City duo of captain Michael Dawson and midfielder Moses Odubajo are both sidelined due to long-term knee injuries picked up in pre-season.
Goalkeeper Allan McGregor, and defenders Alex Bruce and Harry Maguire all conclude the list of casualties who will be missing for Hull’s league opener, meaning Curtis Davies is to be the only fit centre-back.
Leicester’s only absentee for the visit to Hull is central defender Robert Huth, who has a suspension carried over from their historic title-winning campaign.
Vardy is set to lead the line for the champions, while Ranieri could hand Musa his Premier League bow. Mahrez could add further support for the two forward’s from out wide.
Last Season: Hull City – 4th (Championship, 83pts); Leicester City – 1st (81pts)
Last Meeting: Hull City 1-1 Leicester City (Hull won 5-4 on penalties) – League Cup (October 27, 2015)
League Form: Hull City – WLWWLW; Leicester City – WDWDWD
Key Men: Hull City – Robert Snodgrass; Leicester City – Jamie Vardy
Shoot Says: Hull City 0-2 Leicester City