Best Premier League Opening Weekend?
The Premier League has returned in thrilling style – so was this the best opening weekend ever?
It started with Arsenal’s thrilling 4-3 win over Leicester at the Emirates Stadium on Friday night, before Liverpool and Watford played out another goal-fest in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Reigning champions Chelsea were stunned by Burnley at Stamford Bridge, with Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas seeing red in the 3-2 defeat.
There was a goal for Wayne Rooney on his second Everton debut as the Toffees claimed a 1-0 win over Stoke at Goodison Park.
Newly-promoted Huddersfield made an unforgettable start to life in the Premier League as they romped to a 3-0 win at Crystal Palace in Frank de Boer’s first game in charge of the Eagles.
Manchester City saw off Brighton and Tottenham triumphed against Newcastle before Manchester United rounded things off with a thrilling 4-0 thrashing of West Ham.
That took the goal total to 31 to 10 games, but how did the weekend compare to previous years? Here, we recall some of the best.
In the early years of the Premier League, the 1995/96 opening weekend stands out. It was then that Manchester United, who would go on to win the title, were famously beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had finished 16 places above the Midlanders in the previous campaign, but goals from Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke put them in major trouble before half-time.
A certain David Beckham pulled a goal back in the closing stages, but having sold Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis and signed nobody that summer, the defeat prompted Alan Hansen’s famous assertion that “you can’t win anything with kids”.
There was entertainment elsewhere, too, with 28 goals in total. The pick of the other games was Southampton’s 4-3 defeat at home to Middlesbrough. Amazingly, it was the second Premier League game in which Matt Le Tissier had scored a hat-trick and still ended up on the losing side.
The opening weekend of the 2003/04 campaign was the highest-scoring in Premier League history, with a whopping total of 36 goals hitting the back of the net up and down the country.
The game of the weekend came at Anfield, where Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s late strike clinched a 2-1 victory for Chelsea in the first Premier League game under Roman Abramovich’s ownership.
The Russian billionaire, who had funded a huge spending spree that summer, watched from the directors’ box. Chelsea had to wait until the following season for their first Premier League title, but that win sent a message about what was to come.
Elsewhere, Arsenal, who would finish the season as unbeaten title winners, clinched a 2-1 win over Everton despite having Sol Campbell sent off midway through the first half at Highbury.
Defending champions Manchester United started with a 4-0 thrashing of Bolton, and there were also big wins for Manchester City and Blackburn.
The 2006/07 opening weekend was another memorable one, with 33 goals scored in total. Manchester United, who would end up pipping Chelsea to the title, accounted for five of them as they thrashed Fulham 5-1.
Down in London, Olof Mellberg threatened to spoil Arsenal’s first game in the Emirates Stadium when he put Aston Villa ahead shortly after half-time, but Gilberto Silva salvaged a draw six minutes from time.
Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham fared even worse, suffering a 2-0 defeat away to an injury-hit Bolton side. Sam Allardyce barely had enough fit first-teamers to fill his squad, but the Trotters secured a shock win thanks to a goal from Kevin Davies and a 43-yard stunner from Ivan Campo.
There was drama at Bramall Lane, too, where newly-promoted Sheffield United hosted Liverpool after a 12-year absence from the top flight. Rob Hulse put them ahead just after the break, and the Reds required a controversial penalty won by Steven Gerrard and converted by Robbie Fowler to salvage a draw.
Reigning champions Chelsea made a major statement of intent as they opened the 2010/11 season with a thumping 6-0 thrashing of West Brom thanks to a Didier Drogba hat-trick, two goals from Florent Malouda and another from Frank Lampard.
Chelsea were eventually beaten to the title by Manchester United, who started their campaign with a 3-0 win at home to Newcastle.
There was drama at Anfield, where Liverpool, who had debutant Joe Cole sent off, were on course for a 1-0 win over Arsenal until a mistake from Pepe Reina allowed Arsenal to rescue a point at the death.
It was also an historic weekend for Blackpool, who travelled to Wigan for the first Premier League game in their history and claimed a brilliant 4-0 win. The Tangerines were eventually relegated, but memories from that opening weekend live on.