The waiting is finally over as The Premier League returns this weekend with Manchester City and Liverpool going head-to-head to be crowned champions of England (well, nobody else has a chance…right?).
However predictable the Premier League may or may not have become, the opening weekend can throw up a few surprises.
We’ve delved into the archives once again to take a look at five of the biggest opening day shocks.
Arsenal 2 Norwich City 4 – 1992-93
As the Premier League promised us a “whole new ball game”, the opening weekend of the very first campaign in 1992 saw many famous stadiums undergoing huge redevelopment as we kicked off on a scorching August weekend.
Highbury was no exception with the famous North Bank now demolished and replaced by a temporary crowd mural. After the piss-taking about how the atmosphere at the “Library” had been enhanced following its instillation had subsided, the hosts shot into an early 2-0 lead but the visitors – who had finished 14 places behind The Gunners the previous season and wearing a shirt that resembled an egg and cress sandwich – ripped up the script to score four unanswered goals in a devastating 15-minute spell which left home fans (including those on the mural) speechless.
Many people’s abiding memory of that day, however, was wondering why there were stewards at the end of the ground that housed the cardboard edifice.
Aston Villa 3 Manchester United 1 – 1995-96
“Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over….it is now” was, up until August 1995, the most famous line ever spoken in British football.
However, after Aston Villa had put a youthful Manchester United to the sword at Villa Park on the opening day, former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen – who was doing the analysis on Match of the Day that evening – slaughtered United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The reason? For doing no summer business and opting to place his trust in young fledgling players like the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes and David Beckham. This led Hansen to declare that; “You can’t win anything with kids”.
United ended the campaign as double winners for the second time in three seasons, Hansen was never taken seriously as a pundit ever again.
Bolton Wanderers 2 Spurs 0 – 2006-07
Under the tutelage of Sam Allardyce, Bolton went into their opening game of the 06-07 campaign with just 13 fit professionals (oh, how Bolton fans would love to have only 13 fit first-teamers these days).
The omens looked bad for Trotters fans when they faced a Tottenham Hotspur side at The Reebok Stadium who had just splashed out £20m on Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov. Spurs boss Martin Jol looked on in horror however, as Bolton thanks to goals from Kevin Davies and a 40-yard screamer from Ivan Campo, gave the hosts the early advantage which the visitors never recovered from.
The summer optimism from Spurs fans, who believed they would mount a title challenge that season, dissipated before they had tucked into their half-time Balti pies.
Sunderland 1 Spurs 0 – 2007-08
12 months later Spurs fans heading to Wearside to face Sunderland could have been forgiven for fearing the worst following the events at the Reebok in 2006, but they had a new man up top in the shape of £35m man Darren Bent and a young unknown 17-year-old called Gareth Bale who’d arrived for £5m from Southampton that summer.
The Black Cats were managed by Roy Keane who was trying to mould Sunderland into his own image (thankfully Alf Inge Haaland wasn’t on the opposing side).
The North London club thought they’d escaped with a point, but with the referee about to blow for full-time, Michael “Chops” Chopra connected with a Ross Wallace cross to give the home side all three points.
West Bromwich Albion 3 Liverpool 0 – 2012-13
The fixtures computer had Baggies fans salivating back in 2012 when West Brom were drawn at home to Liverpool on opening day.
The fact that their new boss Steve Clarke had been sacked as Liverpool’s number two when Brendan Rodgers walked into Anfield the previous season, made this encounter a particularly mouth-watering one. 90 pulsating minutes later, Clarke had the freedom of the Black Country after his side had destroyed the visitors 3-0 and had even had the luxury of being able to miss a penalty.
A young Virgil van Dijk must have watched on in horror back in his native Holland as the Reds defence capitulated under intense West Brom pressure, vowing never ever to go and sign for that pile of offal.