Bet Slip

No Bets Added

Premier League Champions on the Opening Weekend

Premier League Champions on the Opening Weekend

On Thursday 15th of June, the Premier League fixtures will be released for what will be the competition’s 32nd season since being rebranded from the Old First Division.

Throughout this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at who various Premier League champions faced on the opening weekend while offering insights and analysis of key events that have happened throughout the history of the Premier League.

PL Fixtures

Home or Away?


Manchester United were the first winners of the Premier League back in the 1992/93 season and faced Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in their opening game of that campaign.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men suffered a 2-1 defeat to the Blades, as Brian Deane scored the first-ever Premier League goal, however, it wasn’t until the 1998/99 season when United hosted Leicester City at Old Trafford, that the Premier League champion of that season had started with a home fixture.

In total, there have been 16 occasions when a Premier League champion has started their campaign at home. The most common fixture in this sequence is Manchester United versus Newcastle United at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils taking on the Magpies on the opening weekends of the 2000/2001, 2008/09 and 2010/11 seasons.


Interestingly, this means that 15 of the matches have come away from home, which is quite remarkable when considering that the first six Premier League seasons saw the eventual winners start as visitors.

Two of the last three opening weekend fixtures have seen Manchester City start their campaigns against West Ham United at the London Stadium, making this the joint-most common fixture alongside Everton versus Manchester United. The Red Devils took on the Toffees on the opening weekend of the 1999/2000 season, as well as in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final campaign in charge of United back in 2012/13.

Average Finishing Positions of Sides That PL Champions Have Faced

When looking at the average finishing positions of sides that each Premier League champion has faced on the opening weekend of the season, we’re using the previous season’s rankings.

I.E when Man Utd took on Sheffield United on the opening weekend of the 1992/93 campaign, the Blades finished 9th in the final season of the Old First Division (1991/92).

Something to note here is that the Premier League changed from a 22-team format to 20-teams at the end of the 1994/95 season, meaning that 18th-placed finishers such as Southampton and Aston Villa make this list from 1993/94 and 1994/95. The average positioning from the first four seasons was 12th place. (Sheffield United - 9th, Norwich - 3rd, Southampton 18th and Aston Villa - 18th).

The average position that the Premier League champions have had to face at the start of their campaign is 11th (10.666) when removing promoted opposition.

In terms of finishing positions, the hardest opponents that a Premier League champion has had to go up against on the opening weekend comes in the shapes of Norwich City (3rd in 1992/93) and Manchester United (3rd in 2003/04), with United facing the Canaries on the opening weekend of 1993/94, while Jose Mourinho’s first match as Chelsea manager in 2004/05 saw his side host the Red Devils at Stamford Bridge.

It took until the 2002/03 season for a Premier League-winning side to face a newly promoted Championship club in their opening league match, as United took on West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford, winning 1-0 via a 78th-minute strike from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Since then, six more eventual Premier League winners have started off against promoted sides, with the most recent being Liverpool versus Norwich at the start of the 2019/20 campaign.

Who are the Most Common Opposition That PL Winners Have Faced on the Opening Weekend?

As previously mentioned, Man Utd versus Newcastle was the most common home fixture that took place, meaning that the Magpies are top when it comes to the most played sides by a Premier League winner on the opening weekend, having also hosted Manchester City at the start of the 2013/14 season.

Everton have faced the eventual Premier League champions three times on the opening weekend, having done so twice against United, as well as being the opposition that Arsenal kicked off their 2003/04 ‘Invincibles’ campaign against.

Due to West Ham facing Man City on the opening weekend of the 2020/21 and 2022/23 seasons, the Hammers also make this list having taken on Chelsea on game week one of the 2016/17 campaign, of which Antonio Conte’s men won 2-1 via goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on either side of a 77th-minute equaliser from James Collins.

How Many Times Has a PL Champion Lost on the Opening Weekend?

Only Manchester City and Manchester United have ever achieved the feat of winning the Premier League title after losing their opening match of the season - all of these defeats have come in away fixtures.

United suffered 2-1, 3-1 and 1-0 losses to Sheffield United in 1992/93, Aston Villa in 1995/96 and to Everton in 2012/13. Meanwhile, City suffered a 1-0 loss away at Tottenham on the opening weekend of the 2021/22 campaign to add their name to this list.

However, City holds the record for the biggest-ever win by an eventual Premier League champion on the opening day, having thrashed West Ham 5-0 in 2020/21, eclipsing the likes of Man Utd’s 5-1 victory at home to Fulham in 2006/07.