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11 August 2017

The seven best Premier League opening fixtures in history, from David Beckham’s famous halfway-line goal against Wimbledon to an Arsenal seven-goal thriller

IT’S Friday, which can only mean one thing… the Premier League is back.

After a long summer with nothing but transfer rumours to keep us entertained, we can all look forward to a full weekend of English top flight action.

Chelsea won the Premier League last season, but who will win in 2017-18?
Chelsea won the Premier League last season, but who will win in 2017-18?
PA:Press Association
20 teams take to the field this weekend in pursuit of the Premier League trophy
20 teams take to the field this weekend in pursuit of the Premier League trophy
Rex Features

There are some intriguing fixtures to keep an eye on too.

NOT PICKED YOUR FANTASY FOOTBALL TEAM YET? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Arsenal‘s curtain-raiser against Leicester on Friday, Manchester City‘s trip to the seaside to play Brighton on Saturday and Tottenham‘s journey to Newcastle on Sunday all look like potential thrillers.

But in the 25-year history of the Premier League, can any of these match some beauties from yesterday.

From goal-filled draws to era-defining losses, some opening day fixtures from down the years have truly set the world alight.

Check out just seven of those games, below…

Friday Premier League match preview as Arsenal prepare to take on Leicester


Saturday Premier League match preview featuring Chelsea v Burnley

Aston Villa 3-1 Man United: 1995-96

Man United lost their 1995-95 opener en route to a league-cup double
Man United lost their 1995-95 opener en route to a league-cup double

“YOU can’t win anything with kids,” roared Alan Hansen in confident manner on that fateful day in August 1995.

Manchester United had just been thumped 3-1 by Aston Villa – having trailed 3-0 – in their season-opener.

Hansen was referring to Sir Alex Ferguson’s youthful XI, which included the likes of Gary Neville (20-years-old), Phil Neville (18), Paul Scholes (20), Nicky Butt (20) and Ryan Giggs (21).

A young David Beckham came off the bench to grab a late consolation goal, but following this loss, the rest – as they say – was history.

United went on to win the Premier League and FA Cup trophies – with kids – before continuing their era of utter dominance.

Wimbledon 0-3 Man United: 1996-97

David Beckham scored his iconic halfway-line goal against Wimbledon in 1996
David Beckham scored his iconic halfway-line goal against Wimbledon in 1996
Action Images – Reuters

A YEAR later and Becks was at it again… as the youngster set the league alight with one of the most iconic goals in football history.

Travelling to South London on a scorching afternoon, Fergie’s men went 2-0 up thanks to goals from Eric Cantona and Denis Irwin.

However, what Beckham did in the 90th-minute changed the face of football.

Picking up the ball in his own half, he spotted veteran stopper Neil Sullivan off his line, before lobbing him with inch-perfect precision from the half-way line.

Middlesbrough 3-3 Liverpool: 1996-97

Fabrizio Ravanelli burst onto the English scene against Liverpool in 1997
Fabrizio Ravanelli burst onto the English scene against Liverpool in 1996
PA:Press Association

ON the same day, arguably the greatest opening day in Premier League history, there was not one but TWO 3-3 draws.

As well as newly-promoted Derby’s home thriller with mid-90s giants Leeds, Liverpool stumbled to a disappointing draw of their own.

Three times Roy Evans’ men took the lead. Three times Fabrizio Ravanelli of Middlesbrough pulled the hosts back on level terms.

On his English debut, no less…

Everton 1-6 Arsenal: 2009-10

Arsenal utterly dismantled Everton on the opening day of the 2009-10 season
Arsenal utterly dismantled Everton on the opening day of the 2009-10 season
AFP

IT was a case of six of the best for Arsenal back in the 2009-10 season.

On their opening day, they were scheduled to take on a notoriously tricky Everton XI at Goodison Park.

A sturdy defensive unit, no-one expected Arsenal to walk to such a comfortable win.

Goals from Denilson, Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas, two from Cesc Fabregas and a clincher from Eduardo put the Gunners 6-0 up.

Louis Saha scored in the final minute of added time, but it was barely even a consolation for the defected Toffees.

Wigan 0-4 Blackpool: 2010-11

Blackpool stunned the top flight in their first-ever game... a 4-0 away win
Blackpool stunned the top flight in their first-ever game… a 4-0 away win
PA:Press Association

BLACKPOOL came into the Premier League as overwhelming favourites to head straight back down to the second tier in 2010-11.

But they became only the fifth team to come straight from promotion to winning their opening game – and what a memorable way to do it.

The Latics – at this point an established top flight team – were expected to comfortably dispatch the newbies.

But two goals from Marlon Harewood and further strikes from Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Alex Baptiste ensured Wigan could only watch on in stunned bemusement.

Leicester 4-2 Sunderland: 2015-16

Leicester got their shock title-winning season off to a flyer against Sunderland
Leicester got their shock title-winning season off to a flyer against Sunderland
PA:Press Association

AFTER already producing the greatest of great escapes at the end of the previous season, Leicester went into their 2015-16 opener with Sunderland expecting a relegation battle six-pointer.

Instead, the Foxes went 3-0 up just 25 minutes in thanks to goals from star duo Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, in a resounding 4-2 win.

What happened from then stunned the nation, nay, the world.

The “Fearless Foxes” put together victory-after-victory as they stormed to the most unlikely of Premier League titles.

Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool: 2016-17

Liverpool beat Arsenal in a seven-goal thriller on opening day last season
Liverpool beat Arsenal in a seven-goal thriller on opening day last season
Reuters

NOT delving too far into the archives for this one, as Arsenal and Liverpool played out a stunner just 12 months ago.

The Gunners must have though they’d got off to a flyer after Theo Walcott’s early strike, only to be pegged back by a stunning Philippe Coutinho free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Liverpool then went beserk, going 4-1 up by the hour mark, before goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers set up a tight finish.

But the elusive equaliser was never found and Arsenal started their season as they meant to go on… in an infuriating manner.

Sunday Premier League match preview featuring Manchester United v West Ham

Keep up to date with ALL the football news, gossip, transfers and goals on our club page plus fixtures, results and live match commentary.


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Because the Dream Team game – the UK’s biggest fantasy football game – is back and better than ever this season.

You’ve got a £50m budget to pick 11 players, with all the biggest new signings ready and raring to go ahead of a mouthwatering new Premier League campaign.

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Check out this retro advert for the Premier League's first-ever season
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