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Data Suggests Which Teams to Back on Opening Weekend



At the start of every new season, the onus is to get the first win as quickly as possible. Failing that, get a draw from your opening game and hope that the first three points will follow quickly. has analysed all 27 opening weekends in the history of the Premier League to find out which of the current top flight teams are used to getting off to a winning start and which teams are slow out of the blocks.

Research suggests Manchester City should add to their impressive run at West Ham while their neighbours Manchester United will be looking to stay top of the win percentage table when they host Chelsea this weekend and the Blades will be hoping to be as sharp as they have in previous opening weekends as Sheffield United mark their return to the top flight at Bournemouth.

With their name etched 13 times on the Premier League trophy, it’s perhaps no surprise to discover Manchester United top of the table when it comes to the percentage of opening weekend fixtures won since the restructure in 1992/93.

But seeing Sheffield United alongside the Red Devils will surprise many.

Granted, the Old Trafford side have been an ever-present in all 27 seasons to win 66.6 per cent of their games while the Blades have featured in just three campaigns. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope his side can get off to another winning start at home to Chelsea this weekend and add to the 18 wins they have already registered on the opening weekend including their last four.

They have only failed to score in three of their 27 matches. Chris Wilder’s side have taken seven points from a possible nine in their opening fixtures in the top flight and a trip to Bournemouth offers the Blades a chance of improving to 75 percent of opening day wins with victory at the Vitality Stadium.

Chelsea, under the management of Frank Lampard, have won 62.9 per cent of their opening day fixtures.

The Blues travel to Old Trafford this weekend knowing their record away from home on the first day is one of the best in the league. Coventry were the last team to defeat Chelsea when the Sky Blues won 2-1 at the start of the 1998/99 campaign.

Since then, the Stamford Bridge club has taken 19 points from a possible 21 with a 0-0 draw at Stoke in 2011 the only time they dropped points.

Liverpool beat West Ham 4-0 a year ago to start what turned out to be their best season ever in the top flight with just one defeat in 38 matches. But it wasn’t enough to finish ahead of champions Manchester City who pipped them to the title by a single point.

Since losing 3-0 at West Brom in August 2012, Liverpool have won five and drawn one of their last six openers. The Reds have only lost four of their first games in the Premier League and only once at Anfield when Chelsea beat them 2-1 in 2003 thanks to goals from Juan Veron and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Arsenal have notched 14 opening day wins over the years, but they have been slow starters in recent campaigns with just two wins in their last nine openers.

Four of their seven defeats have come in the last six seasons which has dragged their winning percentage down to 51.8 per cent.

Only one other team has managed to win at least half of their opening day games in the Premier League and that is the defending champions Manchester City. The Citizens travel to West Ham hoping to start their ninth successive league season with a win.

They have only conceded one goal in their last six openers when Jermain Defoe equalised for Sunderland before a Paddy McNair own goal gave City a 2-1 win.

City’s recent form is in stark contrast to their early days in the Premier League when they had to wait until their seventh season to get their first win on the first weekend.

At the other end of the table, Brighton hope it is a case of third time lucky. The Seagulls have not taken a point or scored a goal on the opening weekend of a Premier League season – although this will be just their third campaign in the top flight.

Last season they lost 2-0 at Watford 12 months after losing 2-0 at home to Manchester City in August 2017.

Southampton are entering their 21st Premier League season but their opening day record is poor with just two winning starts managed in the previous 20 with both coming away from home – at West Brom in 2013 and at Coventry in 1999.

The Saints have drawn half of their games including the last four they’ve played at St Mary’s where they will face Burnley in their first game of the new season.

Norwich won their first ever Premier League game 4-2 at Arsenal in 1992, but since then, they have struggled on the opening weekend. Four defeats and three draws has left the Canaries with a 12.5 per cent winning record. Opening day wins have been hard to come by for Leicester and Watford who both start the season having won just 16.6 per cent of their first games.

Leicester’s last opening day win came at home when they beat Sunderland 4-2 in 2015 – the season they won the league.

Watford’s 2-0 win over Brighton at Vicarage Road 12 months ago was the first time in six seasons they began a Premier League season with a win and they will be favourites to do the same this season at home to the same side.

66% Manchester Utd 5/4 to beat Chelsea
66% Sheffield Utd 11/10 to beat Bournemouth
62.9% Chelsea 2/1 to beat Man Utd
55.5% Liverpool 2/13 to beat Norwich
51.8% Arsenal 5/6 to beat Newcastle
50% Man City 5/19 to beat West Ham
43.4% West Ham 12/1 to beat Man City
40% Wolves 3/1 to beat Leicester
38.4% Tottenham 3/10 to beat Aston Villa
37.5% Aston Villa 9/1 to beat Tottenham
30% Crystal Palace 2/1 to beat Everton
29.1% Newcastle Utd 7/2 to beat Arsenal
26.9% Everton 11/8 to beat Crystal Palace
25% Bournemouth 10/11 to beat Sheffield Utd
20% Burnley 13/8 to beat Southampton
16.6% Leicester 6/5 to beat Wolves
16.6% Watford 10/11 to beat Brighton
12.5% Norwich 18/1 to beat Liverpool
10% Southampton 7/4 to beat Burnley
0% Brighton 3/1 to beat Watford

I have written for a number of sports based publications in the United Kiingdom for the last 20 years including many different genres, mainly football and horse racing which includes the Premier League and the Cheltenham Festival. Follow me on Twitter or my linkdin profile.

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