Ten great Premier League opening day moments

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

With the Premier League fixtures for 2009/10 announced on Wednesday morning, we look back at some of the most memorable moments from the Premier League opening days of yore...

10)  Chelsea v Sunderland (August 7, 1999)
With relatively big money being spent bringing the likes of Mario Melchiot, Didier Deschamps and ...err... Chris Sutton to Stamford Bridge in the summer of ’99, there was realistic talk in the press and on the terraces that the Blues could mount a serious title charge.

They certainly started in suitable fashion, comfortably and stylishly doing away with newly-promoted Sunderland 4-0.

The pick of the goals was a real goal of the season contender from Gustavo Poyet – who strolled into the path of a delightful Gianfranco Zola chip and performed a stunning scissor-kick, smashing the ball home from just inside the Sunderland box.

Chelsea, ultimately, were forced to wait five more seasons for a Premier League title, ending the 1999/00 season in 5th place, although they did win the FA Cup, beating Aston Villa in the last final at the old Wembley.

9) Tottenham v Manchester United (August 10, 1997)
Premier League champions Manchester United made the trip to White Hart Lane for the first game of the post-Cantona era.

Fortunately they had already recruited an experienced replacement. Unfortunately for Spurs, it was their former (and future, as it turned out) hero Teddy Sheringham.

Having run the gauntlet of abuse from the White Hart Lane crowd, Teddy refused to bow to the pressure and stepped up to take a first half penalty – only to smack it against the post.

Cue scenes of unbridled joy in the stands, which would only be curtailed by United going on to win the game 2-0 anyway.

Spurs fans took some comfort from the fact their side lifted a trophy before Teddy did at United, with their 1999 League Cup final win over Leicester coming three months before Sheringham and friends famously ‘did the Treble’.

Bet he was seething about that one...

"Very good Ted, but did you win the League Cup?"

8) Arsenal v Coventry City (August 14, 1993)
Before he was entertaining legions of cabbies and white van drivers on national radio with that same anecdote about eating a pie thrown at him by an opposition fan (it gets funnier every time, really it does), Mickey Quinn  was a footballer.

Somewhat of a journeyman, our Michael turned out for the likes of Wigan, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Coventry, even managing to squeeze in a stint in Greece (and, possibly, grease), scoring over 200 goals and enjoying a barrel load of ‘banter’ along the way.

Quinn’s finest hour came at Highbury in the opening day of the 1993/94 season, when he scored all three goals as Coventry romped to a shock 3-0 win at Highbury – leaving the newly-rebuilt North Bank in stunned silence.

The Independent’s Matt Tench went as far as to suggest Arsenal should sign Quinn as a foil for Ian Wright in his match report.

Sadly for Gunners fans, the club opted to forgo signing Quinn and within two years had brought Dennis Bergkamp to N5 to partner Wright. Tough break, that.

7) Reading v Middlesbrough (August 19, 2006)
Time, now, to reflect on those no longer with us. Reading and Middlesbrough played out a textbook opening day cracker in 2006, as the Royals clinched victory in their top flight bow in truly thrilling fashion.

Boro rushed into a 2-0 lead inside the first 20 minutes, as Reading looked like they may struggle with the step up to the Premier League.

However a spirited fight back ensued, with goals from Dave Kitson, Steve Sidwell and Leroy Lita giving the Royals a day to remember.

Sadly Reading’s stay in the top flight only lasted two seasons, before they returned to the Championship, where they will be joined by Boro for the coming season at least.

6) Leicester v Bolton Wanderers (August 18, 2001)
As good as Reading’s introduction to the Premier League was, it wasn’t a touch on Bolton’s comeback to the top flight in 2001.

Before the Trotters were the club every newly promoted side aspired to be, a young(er) moustachioed gent by the name of Samuel Allardyce took his Bolton side to Leicester.

At the time they were a side that regularly troubled the elite band of clubs and finished in the top half of the Premier League, with the strong-arm “up and at ‘em” approach that was to later become their trademark.

Goals from Michael Ricketts and two-apiece from Kevin Nolan and Per Frandsen sealed an emphatic and unexpected 5-0 win for the Lancashire side, which naturally put them top of the league, for a few days at least.

Bolton went on to finish the season in 16th place, while the Foxes would finish bottom of the pile.

"There is no way this can go wrong for me now - NEVER!"

5) Sheffield Wednesday v Tottenham Hotspur (August 20, 1994)
When Jermain Defoe, Pascal Chimbonda and Robbie Keane all returned to White Hart Lane to help Spurs avoid the dreaded drop, they weren’t doing anything new.

Back in December 1997, Jurgen Klinsmann returned to N17 with the club edging towards oblivion under the stewardship of Christian Gross.

Despite inspiring a generally lack-lustre Spurs side to safety that season, it’s for his first stint in North London that Klinsmann is generally better remembered on these shores.

Klinsmann teamed up with Teddy Sheringham, Darren Anderton, Nick Barmby and fellow summer recruit and World Cup 94 star Ilie Dumistrecu to form the ‘Famous Five’ – the front end of an Ossie Ardiles managed team that was more suited to attack than defend – as is the Spurs way.

Fitting, then, that Spurs should win their first match of the 94/95 season 4-3. Klinsmann scored and fronted up to the haters - who had labelled him a diver – by celebrating with an over-exuberant dive to the turf.

4) Chelsea v Manchester United (August 15, 2004)
In one of those little quirks that had us all questioning exactly how ‘random’ all this fixture scheduling lark is, Jose Mourinho was pitted against Sir Alex Ferguson in his first match as Chelsea manager, fresh from knocking Fergie out of the Champions League on the way to winning the trophy with Porto.

The press tried to ramp up the tension by claiming the two managers were at loggerheads, with Fergie supposedly irked by Mourinho’s touchline shenanigans after Porto’s late equaliser at Old Trafford knocked United out of Europe.

Instead the pair seemed to be relatively ‘tight’, both preferring to spend their time sharing a bottle of Port and winding up Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez, rather than each other.

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s 15th minute goal sealed the points for Chelsea, and set the tone for two years of Chelsea superiority over United, with the Blues going on to clinch back-to-back league titles in Mourinho’s first two seasons at the Bridge.

3) Middlesbrough v Liverpool (August 17, 1996)
Fabrizio Ravanelli’s move to Teeside raised more eyebrows than Rio Ferdinand’s recent choice of holiday attire.

Why would a man playing for Juventus, one of Europe’s biggest clubs, alongside the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Didier Deschamps, want to move to Middlesbrough to play with Robbie Musto and Steve Vickers?

Whatever his reasons, Boro fans didn’t care, even less so when the ‘White Feather’ notched up a memorable debut hat-trick against Liverpool – equalising three times as the two clubs shared the points.

Ravanelli scored an amazing 33 goals in his first and only season for Boro, as the Teesiders lost two cup finals and were relegated, before promptly bidding arrivederci to the Riverside and moving to Marseille.

2) Wimbledon 0-3 Manchester United (August 17, 1996)
As rivals Liverpool were suffering at the hands of Ravanelli, Manchester United strolled to an altogether more convincing result at Selhurst Park, where they faced Wimbledon before they sold their soul to cater to the whims of the money men (Wimbledon, that is, obviously...).

With United leading 2-0 and the game entering injury time, a fresh-faced young scamp called David Beckham spotted Dons keeper Neil Sullivan off his line, and proceeded to loft the ball over the Cockney-come-Scotsman from fully 60 yards.

Sadly things didn’t work out for the Manchester United youngster, who has since moved to America’s MLS in order to find competitive action.

He must surely wonder what could have been...

1) Aston Villa v Manchester United (August 19, 1995)

Forget the kids, you'll win nothing in that ruddy awful shirt!

If Match of the Day pundits are good for anything (they aren’t, but we’re speaking hypothetically here) it’s making rash and massively exaggerated statements off the back of having seen 20 minutes of heavily edited footage of a match in order to look insightful.

Scotch killjoy Alan Hansen took this to a new level back in 1995, when he infamously declared that Manchester United couldn’t ‘win anything with kids’, after United, who had sold Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes that summer, succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.

We all know what happened next.

United went on to win six of the next eight Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League with a side predominantly made up of the very same ‘kids’ Hansen had belittled that faithful August night (although granted, they were aided by the likes of Eric Cantona, Peter Schmeichel, Andy Cole and Jaap Stam along the way)

Ya cannae get away with that!

---------------------------------------------- More to read...
Inside Track home
Blogs home 
News home
Interviews home
Forums home home