Every Premier League club’s best and worst opening day in the modern era

Ian Watson
Everton and Liverpool score goals on previous Premier League opening days.

The Premier League season is back! So we’ve picked out the best and worst opening day of the last 16 years for every top-flight team…


Best: 6-1 v Everton (a) 09/10: Cesc Fabregas ran the show, scoring twice in addition to goals from Denilson, Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas and Eduardo. Everton got off lightly.

Worst: 1-3 v Villa (h) 13/14: Arsene Wenger blamed the referee after Arsenal conceded two penalties and had Laurent Koscielny sent off, all after going ahead. They were booed off. Obviously.


Best: 3-1 v Arsenal (a) 13/14: As much as this was billed as an exposure of Arsenal’s shortcomings, it was a damn fine comeback from Villa, who replied to Olivier Giroud’s opener through Christian Benteke’s double and a late strike from Tony Moon.

Worst: 0-1 v Sheffield Wednesday (a) 16/17: Villa’s first game in the second tier for 28 years ended in defeat at Hillsborough after Pierluigi Gollini gifted the Owls an 85th-minute winner.


Best: 2-0 v Aston Villa (h) 22/23: Back in the Premier League under Scotty Parker and there was some misplaced early-season optimism after goals from Jefferson Lerma and Keiffer Moore (his first in the top flight) beat Stevie Gerrard’s poor Villa side.

Worst: 0-1 v Aston Villa (h) 15/16: The Cherries’ first ever game in the Premier League ended in anti-climax after Rudy Gestede gave Tim Sherwood’s side a narrow victory.


Best: 2-0 v Arsenal (h) 21/22: The Bees introduced themselves to the Premier League on the Friday night of the opening weekend with a fully-deserved victory over the Gunners, earned with goals from Sergi Canos and Christian Norgaard.

Worst: 0-1 v Bury (a) 08/09: Illustrating how far the Bees have come, in 2008, they went to since-liquidated Bury and lost 1-0 on the opening day of the League Two season. The 2010/11 season didn’t start much better: a trek to Carlisle to lose 2-0, but at least that was in League One.


Best: 2-1 v Manchester United (a) 22/23: A first ever win at Old Trafford as Brighton outplayed Erik ten Hag’s new Manchester United side, with Pascal Gross scoring a double in a brilliant season for him and the Seagulls.

Worst: 1-2 v Leeds (a) 13/14: The Seagulls made a 500-mile round trip to surrender a one-goal lead and lose to a last-minute Luke Murphy goal at Elland Road.


Best: 3-2 v Chelsea (a) 17/18: Chelsea were the champions and Burnley had ‘boasted’ an appalling away record since their promotion to the Premier League the year before. “Winning away from home on the first day quietens down some stories – we’re written off at the start of every season. It kills off a few things early doors and it allows the players that space for growth,” said Sean Dyche, who was undoubtedly helped by Chelsea having two players sent off as Sam Vokes scored a brace.

Worst: 1-2 v Brighton (h) 21/22: Burnley led through James Tarkowski but their limitations – which would eventually see them relegated – were exposed by a surging Brighton, who could bring Alexis Mac Allister off the bench to win the game.


Best: 6-0 v West Brom (h) 10/11: Chelsea began the season in 2010 with a Baggie battering thanks in no small part to hat-trick hero Didier Drogba.

Worst: 2-2 v Swansea (h) 15/16: Losing 3-2 to Burnley with nine men in 2017 was bad but opening day in 2015 was when it all started to unravel for Jose Mourinho, when Diego Costa had to rescue a point following Thibaut Courtois’ red card on the day of the Eva Carneiro controversy.


Best: 3-1 v Norwich (a) 15/16: Palace got lucky when Cameron Jerome had a goal ruled out that would have taken it to 2-2 with 15 minutes left, but Yohan Cabaye made the points safe with a late third on his Eagles debut.

Worst: 0-3 v Huddersfield (h) 17/18: The Frank de Boer era, if we can call it that, got off to a wretched start with a humiliating home defeat to newly-promoted Town. It got no better for the new Palace boss before he was axed four games later.


Best: 1-0 v Man Utd (h) 12/13: Everton’s opening-day record isn’t great but the Toffees stepped it up on Monday Night Football as Marouane Fellaini stole the show on Robin van Persie’s Manchester United debut.

Worst: 1-6 v Arsenal (h) 09/10: ‘The scoreline was, if anything, kind to David Moyes’s side,’ read the Telegraph match report. Joleon Lescott wanted to go to Manchester City and he played like he’d rather have been anywhere else but Goodison.


Best: 5-0 v Norwich (h) 12/13: Fulham topped the Premier League table after battering Norwich at Craven Cottage, where Mladen Petric scored twice on his debut.

Worst: 0-2 v Crystal Palace (h) 18/19: A spending spree was somewhat dampened by a home defeat to Palace, with manager Slavisa Jokanovic offering in mitigation: “I used two players who have only been with us a few days and I need more time.” He was sacked in November.


Best: 4-3 v Arsenal (a) 16/17: Despite Alberto Moreno’s best efforts to ruin it all, the Reds left the Emirates with three points after a stunning second half and a brilliant brace from Philippe Coutinho.

Worst: 0-3 v West Brom (a) 12/13: “I think there are three players who will let us down this year – the cause, the fight, everything. And I have written them down already… make sure you are not the one in the envelope.” 24 hours later…


Best: 8-2 v Yeovil (h) 17/18: What a win for Nathan Jones’ side, who fielded Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (who will join them in the Premier League) as a League Two season that ended in promotion started in spectacular fashion.

Worst: 1-3 v Port Vale (h) 08/09: After being relegated to League Two the season before, a second successive relegation out of the Football League would follow, with a terrible season beginning in truly rotten style.


Best: 4-0 v Swansea (h) 11/12: Beating West Ham 5-0 in 2019 was impressive but rather more run of the mill for a City side used to winning the league. In 2011, Sergio Aguero came off the bench to score a second-half brace as City began their first title-winning season in style on Monday Night Football.

Worst: 2-4 v Aston Villa (a) 08/09: A fortnight before the Sheikhs strolled in, Mark Hughes’ side, which featured Kelvin Etuhu, Javier Garrido and Ched Evans, were torn apart by Gabby Agbonlahor’s hat-trick.


Best: 5-1 v Leeds (h) 21/22: Old Trafford’s first full house post-Covid saw United unveil Raphael Varane before his new team ripped Leeds to pieces with Bruno Fernandes bagging a hat-trick. It went quickly downhill from there.

Worst: 1-2 v Swansea (h) 14/15: Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge ended in anti-climax after Gylfi Sigurdsson inflicted upon United their first opening-day defeat at home since 1972. Last year v Brighton was bad but this was worse.


Best: 3-1 v Bolton (a) 07/08: Sam Allardyce took his new Newcastle side to his old stomping ground and watched the Magpies go 3-0 up inside 27 minutes. Their form continued as the Toon won five and drew two of their opening nine games, but Big Sam was gone by early January.

Worst: 0-4 v Man City (a) 13/14: Newcastle were already 2-0 down when Steven Taylor got himself sent off for swinging at Aguero on the stroke of half-time. Tim Krul had to make a series of brilliant saves to keep the score down.


Best: 4-3 v Burton (h) 16/17: Forest have won four of their six Premier League openers – but the most recent win was in 1998. Away from the top flight, the opening weekend hasn’t brought much joy over the last 16 years. Winning a seven-goal thriller against their local rivals to start Philippe Montanier’s reign perhaps being the most memorable.

Worst: 0-2 v Newcastle (a) 22/23: Welcome to the Premier League, Forest. They did not produce a single shot on target v Newcastle as a front three of Brennan Johnson, Jesse Lingard and Sam Surridge failed to test the Toon.


Best: 1-0 v Brentford (h) 17/18: The last time the Blades won on the opening day was their first game back in the Championship after six years in League One, at a bouncing Bramall Lane with the manager and scorer both boyhood fans. It’s such a perfect day…

Worst: 0-4 v Gillingham (a) 15/16: Nigel Adkins’ first game in charge and it was a veritable disaster. They bounced back to win four on the trot but that was absolutely not a perfect day.


Best: 4-1 v Southampton (h) 22/23: There was genuine belief that Tottenham could mount a title challenge after an opening-day win that saw four goals scored without Harry Kane nabbing a single one. SPOILER: They could not mount a title challenge.

Worst: 0-1 v Sunderland (a) 07/08: Spurs don’t have a great record on the opening day but losing to newly-promoted Sunderland thanks to Michael Chopra’s goal with almost the last kick particularly stank the place out.


Best: 2-0 v Arsenal (a) 15/16: Petr Cech was supposed to be the answer to Arsenal’s goalkeeping problems but the former Chelsea stopper earned a place in Hammers’ hearts with a decidedly ropey display on his debut, gifting goals to Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate as Slaven Bilic got off to a winning start as boss.

Worst: 0-1 v Tottenham (h) 14/15: Another London derby defeat at home in the last minute probably hurt more than being humped 5-0 by champions Man City in 2019.


Best: 2-2 v Everton (a) 18/19: Wolves have won one of their Premier League openers – a 2-0 triumph at Sheffield United in 2020. But that was behind closed doors, and Wolves fans are sure to reminisce more fondly on their first game back in the Premier League for six seasons when Nuno’s side impressed while claiming a late point at Goodison.

Worst: 1-2 v Leeds (A) 22/23: Going ahead through Daniel Podence was good. Allowing Rodrigo to equalise was bad. Scoring a Leeds winner via an own goal was disastrous. The manager almost coming to blows with Jesse Marsch was objectively funny.