With 38 games, twists and turns, ups and downs, it might not seem of vital importance to get your Premier League season off to a bright start.
But every year, at least one team seems to take that long-term view a bit too seriously. Leaving their brains in their summer holidays we can always expect a blowout or two on the opening weekend.
Here are our most memorable first weekend shockers in the Prem era…
Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester Utd – August 19th 1995
Having just been pipped to the Premier League title the previous season by Blackburn, the pressure was on the then plain old Alex Ferguson and his side to begin their challenge well.
But injuries and Eric Cantona’s suspension hit the teamsheet hard. The Scot was forced into naming a number of younger members of the squad, including some unknown local lads by the names of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Nicky Butt.
United went on to lose 3-1 that day at Villa Park, but it was these comments made by Alan Hansen on Match of the Day that evening that subsequently stole the show…
Nine months later, the Red Devils were celebrating the domestic double, and we don’t need to remind you what became of the aforementioned trio.
Coventry 3-2 Chelsea – August 9th 1997
The 1996/97 season had proved a troublesome one for Chelsea’s back-line. The Blues conceded 55 goals, more than any other side finishing in the top half of the table.
The arrival of Dutch goalkeeper Ed De Goey looked to be a good sign at Stamford Bridge, and an opening day fixture against a Coventry side that only just staved off relegation the season before seemed like the perfect opportunity to start well.
But he was in for a Premier League baptism of fire at the hands of Dion Dublin.
Tormenting the visiting defence all afternoon, the former England striker helped himself to a hat-trick to get Gianluca Vialli’s first full season at the Bridge off to the worst possible start.
Leicester 0-5 Bolton – August 18th 2001
Having just arrived for a second crack at the Premier League, Bolton had the tricky task of a trip to Filbert Street to take on Leicester, who the season before had competed in the UEFA Cup (for one round we accept).
But with four goals before half-time the tie was won. A fifth in the 83rd minute from Per Frandsen was the icing on the cake, with the Foxes faithful booing their side off the pitch.
Such was the great start to the campaign (they won their next two), Bolton boss, Sam Allardyce, even claimed they could win the Premier League!
QPR 0-5 Swansea – August 18th 2012
It was all set to be a new era at QPR. Their influx of cash had taken them back up to the top table of English football, and with a number of (former) internationals in their line-up, a bright season could have been expected.
No one told Swansea. The Premier League new boys wasted no time in taking apart an ageing, and almost disinterested Rangers team. The Loftus Road side ended the campaign with relegation back to the Championship.
The game signalled the arrival of the influential Michu to these shores, ahead of what was to be a brilliant season for the Spaniard.
You’d have thought the Rs would have learned their lesson having been battered 4-0 by Bolton in their opener 12 months previously.
West Brom 3-0 Liverpool – August 18th 2012
The opening day to the 2012/13 season saw more than one surprise. Brendan Rodgers was left berating a second half penalty decision at the Hawthorns, but might have been better off focusing on his side’s abject performance.
It wasn’t the best welcome to the Anfield club for the Scot, his side being taken apart by Steve Clarke’s West Brom.
Even more embarrassing was that Clarke had been relieved of his duties on Merseyside just four months before.
The opening day isn’t the be all and end all of the campaign, but it certainly helps if you avoid dropping a clanger in the opening 90 minutes.
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