The opening day

Behind the Numbers - The opening day

Our statistician Josh James looks takes a look at some of the numbers behind the newly-published 2013/14 Premier League fixture list.

Arsenal will kick off the 2013/14 season at home to Aston Villa - the first time the Gunners have began a campaign against the Villans since the very first game at Emirates Stadium, seven years ago.

Arsenal's Premier League opening day record

That day Arsenal fought back to earn a 1-1 draw after Villa defender Olof Mellberg had become the first man to score at the stadium in the Premier League. Gilberto scored the equaliser six minutes from time.

The previous time Arsenal started a season against Aston Villa was 1952/53. That time the game was played at Villa Park, with Tom Whittaker's side winning 2-1, laying the platform for a title-winning campaign. So the last time Arsenal beat Villa on the opening day, they went on to win the league!

The only other instances of Arsenal starting a league season against Villa are 1920/21 and 1909/10, both away from home - the Gunners lost 5-1 in 1909 and 5-0 in 1920. In fact 1920 was one of only two occasions when Arsenal have lost by five goals on the opening day (the other was 6-1 at Wolves in 1946). 

The Club's opening-day form has picked up somewhat since then. Under Arsène Wenger the Gunners have lost just once on the big kick-off, and that was 13 seasons ago - 1-0 at Sunderland. However each of the last three campaigns have begun with a draw, with the team managing only one goal (and that being an own goal) in that time.

Previous Premier League opening day results

Year Result
1992 Arsenal 2, Norwich City 4
1993 Arsenal 0, Coventry City 3
1994 Arsenal 3, Manchester City 0
1995 Arsenal 1, Middlesbrough 1
1996 Arsenal 2, West Ham United 0
1997 Leeds United 1, Arsenal 1
1998 Arsenal 2, Nottingham Forest 1
1999 Arsenal 2, Leicester City 1
2000 Sunderland 1, Arsenal 0
2001 Middlesbrough 0, Arsenal 4
2002 Arsenal 2, Birmingham City 0
2003 Arsenal 2, Everton 1
2004 Everton 1, Arsenal 4
2005 Arsenal 2, Newcastle United 0
2006 Arsenal 1, Aston Villa 1
2007 Arsenal 2, Fulham 1
2008 Arsenal 1, West Bromwich Albion 0
2009 Everton 1, Arsenal 6
2010 Liverpool 1, Arsenal 1
2011 Newcastle 0, Arsenal 0
2012 Arsenal 0, Sunderland 0

Arsenal will be kicking off their 110th league season in August, and so far they have won 50 of the opening fixtures, drawn 23 and lost 36. They have scored 178 and conceded 151. This will be the 62nd time they have got underway at home, compared to 48 away.

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Arsenal's current sequence of 12 consecutive opening days without defeat (stretching back to that Sunderland loss in 2000) is the Club's all-time record for the most unbeaten league starts in a row. The previous longest unbeaten sequence was seven seasons, set between 1932/33 and 1938/39 - the glorious Thirties era.

And perhaps it's no coincidence that the two longest runs of undefeated opening day games coincide with the Club's two most successful ever periods. History shows that the first result of the season can indeed set the tone for the rest of the campaign.

Of those 50 seasons with winning starts, the average finishing position was 5.44, more than three places higher than the average final place in seasons that kicked off with a loss (8.75).

"Arsenal have never recovered to win the league after losing the opening game of the season."

Campaigns which Arsenal began with a draw resulted in an average finishing position of 6.43.

Also, Arsenal have never recovered to win the league after losing the opening game of the season.

Average finishing position when first result is...

Level W D L
Div 2 5 7.33 8
Div 1 6.43 7.5 9.13
Prem League 3.25 3.5 5.33
Overall 5.44 6.43 8.75

All-time opening day record

Level P W D L F A PPG
Div 2 13 8 3 2 27 17 2.08
Div 1 75 30 14 31 113 116 1.39
Prem 21 12 6 3 38 18 2.00
Total 109 50 23 36 178 151 1.59

*Using three points for a win

All-time opening day record

Venue P W D L F A PPG*
Home 61 29 14 18 94 70 1.66
Away 48 21 9 18 84 81 1.5

* Points Per Game using three points for a win

Looking a little further down the fixture list - unless it's shifted to the Sunday - the north London derby will be played in August for the first time since 1997 (a goalless draw at Highbury).

Coming just three games into the season, the match against Tottenham will be the 200th game played at Emirates Stadium overall.

"The match against Tottenham will be the 200th game played at Emirates Stadium overall"

It is also the fixture closest to the 100th anniversary of Arsenal's first-ever home game in north London, which was on September 6, 1913, against Leicester Fosse.

Other fixtures that Arsenal fans traditionally look for when the list is first published include Manchester United away, which next term is scheduled for November 9.

Statistically the worst month for Arsenal during the Arsène Wenger era (with a win rate of 46.27 per cent in the league), the other fixtures in November are Liverpool (H), Southampton (H) and Cardiff City (A).

Conversely, Arsenal's best month statistically under Wenger has been March (with a 70 per cent win rate in the league). Next March the Gunners will take on Stoke City (A), Swansea City (H), Tottenham (A), Chelsea (A) and Manchester City (H).

The Premier League season will conclude at Norwich's Carrow Road on Sunday, May 11.

The last time the Gunners brought the curtain down against Norwich was the 1989/90 season, when George Graham's side drew 2-2 away thanks to an Alan Smith brace.

Other than that, there was a 2-1 final day home defeat to the Canaries in 1986/87, which was the only other time the sides have met on the last weekend.

Last season Arsenal didn't lose in the league until the sixth fixture. That was only the 17th time in Arsenal's history that they had remained unbeaten after five games of a league campaign.

Overall, the team taste defeat for the first time each season an average of 3.68 games into the campaign.


When Arsenal suffer first league defeat of season


Stats correct as at June 20, 2013, all fixtures subject to change

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