Saturday 15 December 2018

The opening day records of Premier League clubs

The bosses most under pressure based on their clubs’ 20-year opening day performances.

Will Watford flags be flying high again on opening day? (Daniel Hambury/PA)
Will Watford flags be flying high again on opening day? (Daniel Hambury/PA)

By Tom White, Press Association Sport Data Journalist

Premier League teams now know their fixtures for the new season and can begin planning for the challenges awaiting them on the opening day.

Press Association Sport has analysed the opening day records of each Premier League club over the last 20 seasons to see which bosses will be under the most pressure to start well.

The recent opening day records of the Premier League teams (PA Graphics).

Quick off the mark

Chelsea were long-established as the Premier League’s opening-day specialists but last season suffered their first losing start this century, as Burnley kicked off a troubled season for Antonio Conte’s defending champions, who had won 15 of their previous 18.

That leaves Watford with the longest unbeaten run among the 20 current top-flight clubs. The Hornets have won five and drawn six of their last 11, though eight of those were outside the top flight.

Since their promotion in 2015, they have started with a draw in all three seasons – against Everton, Southampton and then dramatically against Liverpool last year thanks to Miguel Britos’ stoppage-time equaliser.

Manchester City are next in line with nine years unbeaten, but their run is perhaps more impressive for being compiled entirely in the Premier League and with eight wins – most recently a 2-0 success against Brighton last season – to only one draw.

City striker Sergio Aguero is a hot starter in his own right – last season’s goal against Brighton was his sixth in a Premier League week one fixture. Wayne Rooney’s goal for Everton against Stoke the same day saw him match the record of eight, held by fellow former England internationals Alan Shearer and Frank Lampard.

The same is true of Aguero’s manager Pep Guardiola, whose City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams have won on the opening day in every season of his career except for 2008-09, when Barca were beaten at Numancia. Across Manchester, Jose Mourinho remains unbeaten on opening day.

Slow starters

Mike Ashley, left, saw Newcastle beaten again by Tottenham on last season’s opening day (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The longest winless run on opening day for a Premier League team has also been passed on from last season.

Stoke extended their unwanted sequence to eight years with defeat to Everton but their subsequent relegation leaves Newcastle as the top-flight’s slow starters. The Magpies have not won in their last five opening games, including in their promotion season from the Championship two years ago when they began with a defeat to Fulham.

The sequence also includes back-to-back defeats to Manchester City, both featuring goals for Aguero, and only one draw – against Southampton, whose four-year winless run on opening day is the second-longest among current Premier League clubs.

Everton extended Mark Hughes’ winless run on opening day (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Saints boss Mark Hughes, having presided over much of Stoke’s run, has only one point from the last five opening fixtures while Brighton boss Chris Hughton is only a point better off.

As for players, the most famous scoreless run belongs to Tottenham striker and England World Cup captain Harry Kane – still without a career goal for club or country in the month of August, never mind in his five appearances on opening day.

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