It stopped. Then it started. Then it stopped. Now, on September 12, the Premier League opening weekend is back. Another season of excitement, heartache and drama. We look back at the last decade and select what turned out to be the best tie of the opening fixture round.
Whilst this season’s opening weekend hasn’t thrown the current heavyweights together, as we have been accustomed to in recent years, the tie of the round looks like it has to be Liverpool v Leeds United. Should a routine home win be on the cards? Or, are the 1991/92 Champions side back to prove a point?
The Best Fixtures of the Opening Weekend in the Premier League Over the Last Decade
Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal – 15 August 2010
When the fixture list throws up this tie on the opening day of the season, the TV cameras are not far away.
After a poor seventh-placed finish the year before, and with Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Torres in the squad, surely an improvement was on the way for Liverpool? They took the lead through David N’Gog after half-time, despite being down to ten men after Joe Cole was sent off just before the break.
Arsenal, despite not having won the league since 2004, were a better side than Liverpool – a solid Champions League outfit. It is no surprise that they dominated with the one-man advantage. However, it took them until the last minute to equalise through an own goal from goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Manchester City 4-0 Swansea City – 15 August 2011
The riches of Manchester City were starting to take effect. A third-place finish the season before rewarded them with Champions League football for the first time.
Newly-promoted Swansea City were not here to make up the numbers and went on to have a good spell in the Premier League in the years that followed. They had a relatively decent afternoon until just about the hour mark when Edin Dzeko opened the scoring. Sergio Aguero then rounded off the day with an injury-time goal.
It was a case of start as you mean to go on, as City went onto become Champions in one of English football’s most famous seasons.
Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa – 17 August 2013
There wasn’t much between the top four in the 2013/14 season. Fourth-placed Arsenal were only seven points off the top. It could have been mentality changing later in the season if they hadn’t got off to a disastrous start.
An early goal by Oliver Giroud set them on their way, before a double by Christian Benteke and a red card for Laurent Koscielny turned the tide. Spaniard Antonio Luna killed the game with a late third, which turned out to be one of his few contributions to Aston Villa.
It was a great start to the campaign for Villa, but in an unconvincing season, a 3 -1 victory over Hull City at the beginning of May kept them safe from the drop.
Manchester United 1-2 Swansea City – 16 August 2014
The Premier League opening weekend can often provide shocks, and none more so than in 2014. Whilst Manchester United’s fall from grace was underway after Alex Ferguson’s departure, surely the bookies could not see past an opening day victory for an away side at Old Trafford?
However, after three seasons in the top-flight and a cup behind them, Swansea were no mugs. A first half goal by Ki Sung-Yeung and a winner from Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Swansea all three points.
Despite captain Wayne Rooney’s best efforts, including scoring the equalising goal, Louis van Gaal’s reign got off to a terrible start.
Champions League football was achieved that season for the Dutchman, but the United fans were missing sacred Fergie.
Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool – 14 August 2016
Games between the ‘top six’ can often fail to live up to the hype. Not this one, however. There were about as many goals as there were shots on target. Anything that went near the goal that day hit the net. The pick of the bunch was a Phillipe Coutinho trademark free-kick, which helped level things up going into half-time.
Liverpool came out of the traps flying in the second period. Lallana, Coutinho and Sadio Mane put the Reds well ahead just after the hour. After Liverpool’s fourth, Arsenal went straight up the park and scored through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Calum Chambers registered a third with 15 minutes left, but the comeback wasn’t to be.
Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City – 11 August 2017
This was the first time a Premier League opener had been played on a Friday night. However, it is not the first time we had seen these two put on a show.
It was the second season in a row that the opening weekend produced a seven-goal thriller. Arsenal were involved once more, as Leicester were now beginning to resume their role as a standard Premier League side.
It was 1 – 1 after five minutes. Then 2 – 2 at half-time. Jamie Vardy restored the lead for the visitors ten minutes into the second half. While Leicester were being dominated, they looked set to head home with the points.
However, Arsenal’s double substitution midway through the half when Aaron Ramsey and Oliver Giroud entered the fray. It was the former who equalised and the latter who grabbed the winner with five minutes left. Another opening day defeat for the former Champions.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-2 Everton – 11 August 2018
Wolverhampton Wanderers may have been promoted from the Championship, but that was expected from the Portuguese-influenced side.
This opening day encounter was a good game with four goals and a red card. Richarlison scored a double for Everton, only to be pegged back twice through Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez. While there was nothing too surprising about the result, it was the significance of the late Jimenez goal which would affect the final league table standings.
Wolves finished seventh and qualified for the Europa League, which resulted in their highest finish in a season for almost 40 years. The Toffees, meanwhile, finished eighth, just three points adrift. However, if Everton had won that game they would have finished above Wolves on goal difference, securing the long-awaited Europa League qualification the Goodison Park faithful have been craving.
Manchester United 4-0 Chelsea – 11 August 2019
A season of uncertainty and maybe one to forget for most teams except from Liverpool. A three-way tussle ensued for Champions League spots of third and fourth place.
The opening weekend of the Premier League last season saw a demolition of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea at Old Trafford. Chelsea had their fair share of the game, but it was United who went into the break 1–0 up through a Marcus Rashford penalty. A double from the home side midway through the second half then ensured points.
With the Chelsea transfer embargo and Lampard’s first crack in the Premier League, many had already predicted failure. A season that resulted in the Champions League spot and an FA Cup final was acceptable given the circumstances.
Like the season before, it was the opening game that eventually separated the sides in the league. Both teams finished on 66 points, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side stole third place via goal difference.
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