With the Premier League season on the brink of getting under way you begin to wonder what the opening day of the season can really tell you. These 4 examples from the last 4 seasons of Premier League football should hopefully remind us all that it is a long old season and quite literally anything can happen.
2008-09: Aston Villa 4-2 Manchester City
At the start of this game Manchester City were admittedly without their star 3 strikers in Benjani, Jo and Darius Vassel and Mark Hughes men went to Villa Park worried but surely not expecting to be tore apart in the way they were by a magnificent hat-trick from Gabriel Agbonlahor.
After an Elano penalty cancelled out John Carew’s opener it was Gabby’s time to shine scoring a sizzling hat-trick in the space of 7 minutes to down The Citizens.
2009-10: Everton 1-6 Arsenal
Arsenal absolutely stormed into the 2009-10 season with a dominant performance of Everton at Goodison Park. Denilson, Vermaelen, Gallas, Eduardo and a double from Fabregas saw Arsenal cement their title credentials for the upcoming season as pundit’s started to believe Arsenal could finally break the silverware drought.
It didn’t end that way however; Arsenal eventually finished just 14 points ahead of The Toffees in 3rd place behind Chelsea and Manchester United and were dumped out of the FA Cup by Stoke in the Fourth Round; Man City defeated The Gunners 3-0 in the quarters of the League Cup; and lost a thriller to Barcelona in the quarter finals of Champions League, in another trophyless season for Wenger’s Boys.
2010-11: Wigan Athletic 0- 4 Blackpool
Their attacking style caught The Lactic’s by suprise and goals from Gary Taylor Fletcher, Marlon Harewood (2) and Alex Baptiste saw The Seasiders stun the doubters on the opening day.
Despite winning many fans for their style of play and the impressive form of talisman Charlie Adam; Blackpool still succumbed to relegation; finishing just 3 points behind the side they had humbled in August.
Neil Warnock’s men were outgunned by a ruthless Bolton side but this game is a true reminder of how things can change very quickly. Neil Warnock soon got the sack, being replaced by Mark Hughes; Bolton suffered severe injuries to star players such as Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong whilst 2 of The Trotters goalscorers from that day didn’t finish the season with Bolton either.
Gary Cahill moved to Chelsea whilst Fabrice Muamba suffered a near fatal cardiac arrest later on in the season and, despite thankfully and miraculously surviving, was not around to help Bolton fight relegation. They failed in their fight for survival finishing 18th on 36 points; 1 point and 1 place behind QPR in 17th.
1995-96: Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United
This one is a little further back than the others, but even more memorable because of what happened afterwards."You can't win anything with kids." Those are infamous words uttered after this defeat which will haunt Alan Hansen forever.
These weren't any kids mind, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, all helped United surge to a Premiership title and FA cup double that same year, with the same players going on to win the Champions League years later and perform for England at World Cups. For United, the reason for this defeat was simpler, it was the first time they wore their 'invisible' grey kit.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald