From the vault: Six of our best opening day wins

Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp celebrate scoring against Everton in 2004

The new season is nearly upon us, with Nottingham Forest heading to Emirates Stadium on Saturday and Mikel Arteta hoping that we can start with a flourish by claiming the three points.

Ahead of the game, our Gooners' thoughts will turn back to clocks to some memorable season kick-offs from bygone years that saw us start in style, and so we’ve delved through the archives to look back at some of the best.

Here are six to whet your appetite:

August 20, 1994
Arsenal 3-0 Manchester City

We kicked off 1994/95 with a fine win over City at Highbury, with Kevin Campbell grabbing our first goal just two minutes into the campaign after linking up with Paul Merson.

On 36 minutes the lead was doubled when Alan Smith's shot cannoned in off City's Michel Vonk after a mistake by goalkeeper Tony Coton, and then in the second half following Uwe Rosler's dismissal, Campbell turned provider to race down the right and pull back for Ian Wright to cap off a fine performance.

August 18, 2001
Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal

Our title-winning campaign of 2001/02 got off to the perfect start at the Riverside Stadium when just before half-time a fine chest and volley from Thierry Henry fired us in front, but things could have gone awry when Ray Parlour was sent off six minutes after the restart.

However we hung in and when Ugo Ehiogu was also dismissed three minutes from time, Robert Pires tucked away a penalty to seal the win, before Dennis Bergkamp added two further goals to lay down an early marker to the rest of the division.

August 15, 2004
Everton 1-4 Arsenal

Our Invincibles continued their dominance into the 2004/05 campaign with this convincing win at Goodison Park, as Bergkamp once again got on the scoresheet when he arrowed in after 23 minutes, before Jose Antonio Reyes added a header before half-time.

Henry’s cross was then turned home by Freddie Ljungberg to virtually wrap up the points with 36 minutes remaining, and despite Lee Carsley pulling one back, Pires would restore the three-goal cushion to ensure we equalled Nottingham Forest's 41-game unbeaten record. 

August 15, 2009
Everton 1-6 Arsenal

Five years later we would once again start the season in the blue half of Merseyside, and recorded our biggest opening day win in our history in the process. Denilson got the rout started with a vicious first-time strike from range that found the top corner before Thomas Vermaelen marked his debut by heading past Tim Howard.

William Gallas repeated the trick to put us in form control before the break, and then Cesc Fabregas added a pair of strikes before Eduardo, on his return from injury, added a sixth two minutes from time. Louis Saha’s injury-time strike was a mere consolation on a wonderful afternoon for Arsene Wenger’s team.

August 11, 2017
Arsenal 4-3 Leicester City

One of the most entertaining opening day games saw league debutant Alexandre Lacazette head us in front after just 94 seconds, but goals from Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy saw the Foxes edge in front before Danny Welbeck ensured both sides went into the interval level.

Vardy then put the visitors back in front, before Wenger threw on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, who made a huge impact. The Welshman drilled in an equaliser on 83 minutes and two minutes later Giroud powered home a corner to see us come out on top of a seven-goal thriller.

September 12, 2020
Fulham 0-3 Arsenal

The 2020/21 season kicked off during the coronavirus pandemic meaning no spectators were allowed inside Craven Cottage, but it still proved to be a memorable afternoon for Gabriel who managed to find the net on his Gunners debut.

All three goals were also assisted by a new face in Willian, who nudged the ball into Lacazette’s path to open the scoring after just eight minutes before swinging over a corner to compatriot Gabriel to head home just after half-time. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sealed the win with an excellent finish on 57 minutes to start the season off in style.

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