STOKE CITY Chairman Peter Coates says he is already looking forward to forthcoming Premier League campaign following the release of the 2014/15 fixture list on Wednesday morning.
The Potters have been handed an opening day encounter against Midlands rivals Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium – the first time the side will have opened a campaign at home since entertaining Chelsea in August 2011.
Mark Hughes’ side play host to the Villains over the weekend of August 16/17 before facing back-to-back away games against beaten FA Cup Finalists Hull City (23 August) and reigning Champions Manchester City (30 August).
"We start the season and end the season at home, which is good for us I think," Mr Coates exclusively told stokecityfc.com minutes after the 9am announcement on Wednesday.
"You always want to start the season well and get those first points on the board, so hopefully we can do that against Aston Villa, just as we did against them in our first ever Premier League home game a few years ago.
"It is a good first game for us, they are relatively close to us, so it is a derby game in many respects and I am certain that like me, the supporters are already looking forward to not only this game, but for the season as a whole.
"It's an exciting day for a lot of people when the fixtures are announced, but all the managers will tell you that every game carries the same significance with it, because they all have three points available to collect."
He added: "From a fans perspective, it is nice to see the order of the games though and really start to get excited about what the season has in store. It is a fresh start for us all, we all begin on zero points and we all have our own hopes and expectations."
Despite suffering a largely disappointing campaign last time around, Mr Coates is convinced that Aston Villa will prove to be incredibly difficult opposition on the opening weekend; citing their memorable triumph over Arsenal last August as proof of their credentials.
"They [Aston Villa] enjoyed a superb start to the 2012/13 season if my memory serves me right," the Chairman added.
"They went to the Emirates Stadium and comfortably beat Arsenal in their own back yard which was quite incredible, and in my opinion was one of the stand-out results of the season.
"Like ourselves, they will want to get the new campaign off to a good start so I have no doubt about it that they will come here wanting to win the game, and get the three points on the board."