11 Best Premier League Opening Day Matches
When the Premier League returns after the summer break, excitement reaches ridiculous levels. After weeks of endless transfer rumours fans are desperate for some on-field action and sometimes, just sometimes, the opening fixtures provide all the thrills and spills we had been hoping for. Here are the 11 best contests since the beginning of the Premier League back in 1992.
11. Hull 2-1 Leicester 2016/17
Scarcely has a summer gone worse for a club than for Hull in 2016, and this was despite them getting promoted to the Premier League that year! Their manager, Steve Bruce, jumped ship and one of their best players, Mohamed Diame, chose a return to the Championship with Newcastle over a shot at the top flight. Mike Phelan was in charge of a skeleton squad that were odds-on to go down and they faced the Premier League champions on opening day. Whilst no one expected Leicester to retain their title, they did expect them to beat the Tigers – but the Yorkshire side sprung a huge surprise. Goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass were enough to give Hull the victory and a slither of hope that they could just hack it in the Premier League.
10. Wimbledon 0-3 Man Utd 1996/97
The rest of this game has been largely forgotten, but one stroke of genius in the 90th minute is enough to rank it as one of the greatest opening day contests ever. That piece of wizardry came from the right boot of David Beckham who spotted Neil Sullivan wandering out from his goal from the halfway line. The 21-year-old lofted the ball over the stranded Scot and formally announced himself to the world. The rest is history.
9. QPR 0-5 Swansea 2012/13
Mark Hughes had a bright vision for QPR at the start of his first full season in charge, with Ji-Sung Park wearing the armband, Djibril Cisse leading the line and, erm, Clint Hill at the back. The sparkling dream of future glory was immediately shattered on the opening day of the season by a rampant Swansea who were lead by their exciting new signing Michu. The Spaniard opened the scoring and netted again, whilst Nathan Dyer also struck twice before Scott Sinclair came off the bench to complete the rout. The R’s won just four games that season, finishing bottom of the pile whilst the Swans managed a top-half finish.
8. Aston Villa 4-2 Man City 2008/09
Manchester City were enjoying some fresh investment and they had the likes of Martin Petrov and Elano on show as a result, but Gabriel Agbonlahor was too much for them in August 2008. Agbonlahor struck three times in seven minutes, which took the score from 1-1 to 4-1 in the second half and ended the game as a contest. Vedran Corluka’s 89th minute strike made no difference at all.
7. Everton 1-6 Arsenal 2009/10
Everton away is one of the tougher opening day fixtures you can be handed, but Arsenal made a mockery of that assumption in 2009 when they battered the Toffees in their own backyard. Goals from Denilson, Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas, Eduardo and two from Cesc Fabregas gave the Gunners a six-goal lead before Louis Saha scored a last minute consolation. It was a statement of intent from Arsene Wenger’s men, but they couldn’t keep it up – losing nine times over the season and finishing third, 11 points behind winners Chelsea.
6. Middlesborugh 3-3 Liverpool 1996/97
One of the greatest opening day games ever, and also one of the best Premier League debuts as Fabrizio Ravanelli made a stunning impact at Middlesbrough. The Italian was a thorn in Liverpool’s side that day at the Riverside as three times the visitors took the lead and three times Ravanelli equalised. Stig-Inge Bjornebye, John Barnes and Robbie Fowler scored for Liverpool, but it was Ravanelli who grabbed the headlines.