The 8 most momentous opening-day Premier League matches

Nothing beats the first game of the campaign: the optimism, the excitement, the thought that maybe, just maybe, this is your team's year. Max McLean picks out some of the best curtain-raisers from down the years

Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City (1992/93)

This would certainly seem like a shock result today, and things were no different when the Premier League opened for business in 1992: Arsenal had won the First Division in 1991 and went on to claim the FA Cup and League Cup in 1992/93, while Norwich had escaped relegation by just three points the previous year.

Norwich drove on to challenge for the title, but ultimately finished third after a late-season collapse

This was a sign of things to come, however, as Norwich drove on to challenge for the title - they ultimately finished third after a late-season collapse - and Arsenal slumped into mid-table.

Things started well for the Gunners, who were 2-0 up at half-time courtesy of Steve Bould and Kevin Campbell goals, but Norwich kept their cool and came roaring back late on.

Mark Robins gave the Canaries hope as he headed home a free-kick with 20 minutes left to play, before David Phillips capitalised on a David Seaman error to level the scores. 

With momentum in Norwich's favour and Arsenal on the ropes, Ruel Fox edged the visitors in front with a low finish; then, to seal a fine win, Robins took advantage of a Tony Adams mistake to chip Seaman from 30 yards. 

Derby 3-3 Leeds (1996/97)

Derby marked their promotion to the top flight with a humdinger against Leeds at the Baseball Ground. It was rather appropriate that both sides took a share of the spoils on the opening day: come the end of the campaign, they were separated only by goal difference.

The bulk of the action took place in the second half of this fixture. A young Lee Bowyer forced an own goal out of Derby's Jacob Laursen to break the deadlock in the first 15 minutes, and after 71 minutes the score was still just 1-0 to Leeds.

The outstanding Bowyer must have thought he'd won the game for the visitors when he sidefooted home Ian Rush's cushioned header with five minutes left on the clock

Then all hell broke loose: five goals in a manic 16-minute period that justified the entrance fee. Bowyer was again influential as he teed up Ian Harte to double Leeds' advantage from 20 yards, but Dean Sturridge's volley halved the deficit and Derby got back level straight from the restart through Paul Simpson.

The outstanding Bowyer must have thought he'd won it for the visitors when he sidefooted home Ian Rush's cushioned header with five minutes left, but Sturridge struck shortly after to ensure Derby went home with a point.

Coventry 3-2 Chelsea (1997/98)

Chelsea had a very talented team, with Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Wise, Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet all turning out

Chelsea weren't the behemoth of English football they would go on to become in 1997, but they certainly had a talented team with Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Wise, Mark Hughes, Roberto Di Matteo and Gus Poyet all turning out for the Blues. Coventry couldn't quite call on such a talented crop – but all they needed was Dion Dublin.

Frank Sinclair put Chelsea ahead after 39 minutes, driving at the hosts' defence before cutting inside and finishing at the near post. Dublin soon equalised, nodding in from a long throw, but Tore Andre Flo restored Chelsea's lead with 70 minutes played.

Dublin wouldn't be denied, though, the striker completing a hat-trick and capping a dramatic late comeback after the Blues made two costly defensive lapses in the closing stages.

Arsenal 2-1 Everton (2003/04)

I always admired this idea to win a championship without losing a game, because after that you cannot do much better

- Arsene Wenger

“Only you know deeply if there was any more to give,” Arsene Wenger writes in the foreword to Amy Lawrence’s Invincibles. “So I always admired this idea to win a championship without losing a game, because after that you cannot do much better.”

For Wenger, indeed, it never has got better than 2003/04, when Arsenal went undefeated throughout an entire campaign. It all started at home to Everton on the opening day, when goals from Thierry Henry and Robert Pires fired the Gunners to victory.

It wasn't all plain sailing, though: Sol Campbell was sent off early on for a foul on Thomas Gravesen, and Tomasz Radzinski made it a nervous end to the game by pulling a goal back with six minutes remaining. Arsenal held on, however, and went through the whole top-flight season without losing once.