LEICESTER 0-5 BOLTON (2001)
Bolton embarked on their first Premiership outing for five years in the best way possible, destroying an unfathomably poor Leicester side in their own backyard. The Foxes were run over by the unstoppable Bolton juggernaut, a beast which would see them top at the end of August before reality bit. The tone was set in the fifteenth minute after Leicester might have taken the lead – Kevin Nolan converted a Per Frandsen cross with a looping header into the top corner.
Their lead was doubled when the powerful figure of Michael Ricketts bulldozed his way into the area and smashed an unstoppable shot into the same corner of the net, the integrity of which was probably compromised by the sheer force. Eight minutes later it was three, Kevin Nolan scored after a knockdown from a free kick was unguarded, allowing him to finish with aplomb past ex Premier League winner Tim Flowers.
There was further embarrassment for Leicester on the stroke of half time, Frandsen put an extocet of a daisy-cutter past Flowers from the free kick, low and hard into the corner to make it an unbelievable 4-0. Frandsen repeated the act in the second half, and in all truth, Bolton could have made it double figures with the chances they had. Big Sam Allardyce’s Bolton stayed up against all the odds, but Leicester had a pitiful season, finishing rock bottom.
CHELSEA 1-0 MANCHESTER UNITED (2004)
Jose Mourinho, the self proclaimed “special one” enjoyed a debut to remember as his team beat Manchester United on the first day of the 2004-05 season. In front of the Sky cameras, new reckoned-with force Chelsea made a mockery of Manchester United’s silverware and unrivaled Premiership success.
It took all of fifteen minutes for Eidur Gudjohnsen to make his mark for the eventual champions; United defender Quinton Fortune was clumsy in clearing a ball, allowing Cameroon international Geremi to cross expertly for Eidur Gudjohnsen, who clipped a shot over the badly exposed Tim Howard.
Premiership debutant Didier Drogba looked every bit the part for the money Chelsea splashed out on him, creating chances and giving the shaky United defence a hard time throughout. Despite some late pressure from United, Chelsea held out to savour victory, commencing what would become a golden age for Chelsea Football Club.
EVERTON 2-0 NEWCASTLE (1996)
Much was made of Alan Shearer’s Newcastle debut against an Everton side who (though improved) were seen by many neutrals as just the first hurdle towards Newcastle’s title challenge. But it was new signing Gary Speed and Everton stalwart David Unsworth who stole the show at Goodison, with Shearer distinctly unimpressive on a bad day at the office for The Magpies.
Everton passed the ball around like Brazil, not giving Newcastle a look in, and snuffing out any attacks from the visitors to great effect. David Unsworth always had a chequered opinion amongst Everton fans, but converted a penalty with great coolness, which preceded a second goal before half time, when Speed raced onto a pass from Duncan Ferguson to finish past Shaka Hislop.
Although the seasons of the two clubs would be very different affairs, this is just one of five successes experienced by Everton on the Premiership’s opening day, and given the circumstances, probably their finest.
FULHAM 4-1 BOLTON (2002)
Fulham had an impressive debut season in the Premier League, finishing 13th and beating the likes of Newcastle and Leeds on the way to safety, a status which many argued was beyond The Cottagers. With Mohammed Al Fayed’s backing, Fulham looked set to make their mark in one of Europe’s top leagues. However, all was not going to script in the early stages of their curtain raiser against Bolton.
On a beautiful summer’s day at Loftus Road, the visitors went ahead from the spot when Alain Goma clumsily fouled Youri Djorkaeff in the area. But that was as good as it was going to get for Bolton. Just seven minutes later, Louis Saha converted a penalty with vengeance after Gudni Bergsson upended the dreadlocked Frenchman.
Soon after, Fulham took the lead when another of manager Jean Tigana’s fellow countrymen, Steve Marlet converted yet another penalty, after Luis Boa Morte was left spread-eagled by Bolton’s Bernard Mendy.
3-1 and coasting at half time, Fulham were somewhat fortunate to be so far in front, but overall they did deserve their place in the driving seat. After a succession of tit-for-tat chances in the second half, Sylvain Legwinski took advantage of Paul Warhurst’s poor clearance to thunder home a shot from 18 yards, sending the Fulham fans into raptures in their first game as Queen’s Park Rangers’ tenants
CRYSTAL PALACE 1-6 LIVERPOOL (1994)
Roy Evans had a day in the Anfield hotseat to remember, as a rejuvenated Liverpool team thumped newly promoted Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. After Jan Molby converted an 11th minute penalty, young bucks Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman scored a goal apiece as Liverpool began to assert dominance over the Eagles, who were prey for the Reds’ insatiable appetite for goals.
It was 3-0 at half time, and as things stood, Liverpool would top the first table of the season. Palace did pull a goal back immediately after half time when Chris Armstrong managed to find the net on an otherwise torrid afternoon up front. Palace briefly threatened to make a game of it, but the game was up after an hour when legendary striker Ian Rush added his penneth-worth to the score sheet.
McManaman then scored his second of the game, as did Rush soon after to make it 6-1 and Liverpool’s second best away result in the Premiership – their joint best are the 6-0 maulings of Ipswich Town in 2002 and West Bromwich Albion in 2003.
Look out for part 3 tomorrow, a Five-star performance from United and Sunderland stun Gunners!
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