Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: 7 Worst Opening Day Results from the Last 100 Years

Elliott Binks@ Writer IIIAugust 24, 2012

Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland: 7 Worst Opening Day Results from the Last 100 Years

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    Arsenal kicked off the 2012-13 Premier League campaign by disappointingly drawing 0-0 with Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium.

    But despite the lack of goals, there were certainly positives to take from the game as Arsenal dominated much of the play, with new signing Santi Cazorla looking particularly creative.

    Besides, the results could of course have been a lot worse.

    In the spirit of “looking on the bright side,” this list takes a look at some of the more damaging defeats that Arsenal have suffered on the opening day of the season.

Aug. 29, 1925: Arsenal 0-1 Tottenham

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    As far as opening day defeats go, they don’t get much worse than losing to your arch rivals in your own back yard.

    Having finished just one place above the relegation zone the previous year, Arsenal would go on to end the season in second place.

    In hindsight, such unexpected success only made the loss even more disappointing, especially as Spurs finished down in 15th.

    The match also marked legendary manager Herbert Chapman’s first-ever league game in charge of Arsenal.

    Though it ended in defeat, this was a rare blemish on his otherwise impeccable resume that saw him transform the Gunners into the greatest side in the country with his innovative W-M formation.

Aug. 31, 1946: Wolves 6-1 Arsenal

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    The defeat remains one of Arsenal’s heaviest ever on the opening day of any season, and the most goals the club has ever conceded on match day one.

    It also marked something of a fall from grace for a team who had been amongst England’s elite before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, as the Gunners went on to finish just 13th that season.

    The Wolverhampton Wanderers team of 1946 included club legend Billy Wright (pictured), whose achievements include becoming the first player in the world to earn 100 international caps.

    Arsenal would have the last laugh though, returning the following year with a vengeance as they won the League title, with Wolves slipping to fifth place.

Aug. 21, 1976: Arsenal 0-1 Bristol City

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    Having been promoted the previous season, new boys Bristol City caused a major shock as they inflicted defeat upon Arsenal in their opening clash at Highbury in 1976.

    It was Terry Neill’s first league outing as Arsenal manager, though the surprise loss did not hinder his side’s progress too much. The Gunners wound up eighth in the league, vastly improving on their 17th-place finish from the season before.

    As Arsenal’s youngest ever manager, the pressure of such a defeat could have easily gotten the better of Neill, but he managed to prove the critics wrong by reaching three FA cup finals between 1978 and 1980, as well as the 1980 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Aug. 29, 1981: Arsenal 0-1 Stoke City

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    Arsenal succumbed to another 1-0 home loss at the start of the 1981/82 season, this time at the hands of Stoke City.

    The result was especially frustrating as Arsenal had been in high spirits after achieving an admirable third-place finish in the previous campaign.

    Stoke’s hero at Highbury was centre-forward Lee Chapman (pictured), and his contribution helped convince Arsenal manager Neill to sign him at the end of the season.

    However, he failed to reproduce his Stoke form and managed just four league goals in an Arsenal shirt before being shipped north to Sunderland having spent just one year in North London.

    Nonetheless, the Gunners recovered from their poor start to finish fifth in the table, thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Aug. 19, 1989: Manchester United 4-1 Arsenal

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    Before the days of free-for-all brawls and points deductions, the Arsenal/Manchester United rivalry actually revolved more around football than violence and egos.

    The Gunners were the First Division’s defending champions heading into the 1989/90 campaign, but they were brought back down to earth with a bump as rivals Manchester United stormed to a comprehensive 4-1 win at Old Trafford.

    David Rocastle’s goal was no more than a consolation strike as Steve Bruce, Mark Hughes, Neil Webb and Brian McClair wrapped up a miserable afternoon of football for Arsenal.

    Although, they once again managed to salvage their season, finishing a respectable fourth compared to United’s lowly 13th.

Aug. 15, 1992: Arsenal 2-4 Norwich City

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    Arsenal kicked off the Premier League era with a fairly unexpected defeat to a Norwich side who had only managed to finish three points above the relegation places the year before.

    Goals from Steve Bould and Kevin Campbell put the Gunners 2-0 to the good after 39 minutes, but they well and truly capitulated in the second half.

    The Canaries scored three goals in 15 spectacular minutes late in the game to turn the match completely on its head.

    The result rather set the tone for the rest of Arsenal’s season, as they finished just 10th while Norwich reached the dizzying heights of third place; their greatest ever top-flight finish.

    Though the less said about their kit, the better.

Aug. 14, 1993: Arsenal 0-3 Coventry City

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    It seemed the Gunners were developing an opening day hoodoo, with a second successive surprise defeat to supposedly weaker opposition.

    This time, Coventry were the perpetrators, running out 3-0 winners at Highbury thanks to a Micky Quinn hat trick.

    The result is made all the more impressive for Coventry given that Arsenal had the league’s best defence that year, conceding just 28 goals in 42 games thanks to the likes of David Seaman and Tony Adams.

    Such solidity helped the side once again finish in fourth position while Coventry were left languishing in 11th. Arsenal have gone on to lose just one of their Premier League openers since, winning 12 and drawing the remaining six.


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    As you can see, Arsenal have suffered much worse fortunes on the opening days of seasons gone by.

    Furthermore, they have frequently managed to bounce back and finish in perfectly respectable positions in the league, managing to secure European football more often than not.

    So there really is no need to panic, and those who are already writing off the Gunners’ chances this season are being outrageously premature in their judgement. There are of course a whopping 37 games left to play.

    And if omens are anything to go by, the last time Arsenal failed to score against Sunderland on the first day of the season, they went on to finish the season as runners-up to Manchester United.

    I'm sure a repeat of such success this time around would certainly go down well amongst the Arsenal faithful.


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