The start of the season is always the most exciting weekend of the season. New kits, new players, new managers, new directions. Optimism reigns supreme. FPL players endure a different reality, consumed with squad debate until final seconds of the first deadline. First impressions are lasting in the FPL, and opening day matters a whole lot to the millions within the Fantasy Premier League. Welcome to the Hype Train's analysis of the first day of the season.
August 8th is looming ever closer, and with the BPL fixtures now released, let’s have a retrospective glance at the recent history of the Premier League. We’ll begin life in 2010/11, to keep things relevant.
Season by Season Results (2010 Onwards)
2010/11 Opening Day
Wolves 2-1 Stoke
(David Jones, Fletcher), (Abdoulaye Faye)
Wigan 0-4 Blackpool
(Taylor-Fletcher, Harewood, Grandin, Baptiste)
Sunderland 2-2 Birmingham
(Bent, Carr O.G.), (Scott Dann, Ridgewell)
Chelsea 6-0 West Brom
(Malouda, 2; Drogba, 3; Lampard)
Spurs 0-0 Man City
Bolton 0-0 Fulham
Blackburn 1-0 Everton
Aston Villa 3-0 West Ham
(Downing, Petrov, Milner)
Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
(Ngog), (Reina O.G.)
Man United 3-0 Newcastle
(Berbatov, Fletcher, Giggs)
2011/12 Opening Day
Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland
Fulham 0-0 Aston Villa
Blackburn 1-2 Wolves
(Mauro Formica), (Fletcher, Stephen Ward)
Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal
QPR 0-4 Bolton
(Gary Cahill, Muamba, Ivan Klasnic; Gabbidon O.G.)
Wigan 1-1 Norwich
West Brom 1-2 Man United
(Long), (Rooney; Reid O.G.)
Stoke 0-0 Chelsea
Man City 4-0 Swansea
(Dzeko, Silva, Aguero, 2)
2012/13 Opening Day
Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
Everton 1-0 Manchester United
Fulham 5-0 Norwich
(Duff, Petric, 2; Kacaniklic, Sidwell)
Manchester City 3-2 Southampton
(Tevez, Dzeko, Nasri), (Lambert, S. Davis)
Newcastle 2-1 Tottenham
(Demba Ba, Ben Arfa), (Defoe)
QPR 0-5 Swansea
(Michu, 2; Nathan Dyer, 2; Scott Sinclair)
Reading 1-1 Stoke
(Le Fondre), (Kightly)
West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Liverpool
(Gera, Odemwingie, Lukaku)
West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa
Wigan 0-2 Chelsea
2013/14 Opening Day
Arsenal 1-3 Aston Villa
(Giroud), (Benteke, 2; Luna)
Chelsea 2-0 Hull
Crystal Palace 0-1 Spurs
Liverpool 1-0 Stoke
Man City 4-0 Newcastle
(Silva, Aguero, Yaya Toure, Nasri)
Norwich 2-2 Everton
(Whittaker, van Wolfswinkel), (Barkley, Coleman)
Sunderland 0-1 Fulham
Swansea 1-4 Man United
(Bony), (van Persie, 2; Welbeck, 2)
West Brom 0-1 Southampton
West Ham 2-0 Cardiff
(Joe Cole, Nolan)
2014/15 Opening Day
Man United 1-2 Swansea
(Rooney), (Sigurdsson, Ki)
Leicester 2-2 Everton
(Wood, Ulloa), (Naismith, McGeady)
QPR 0-1 Hull
Stoke 0-1 Aston Villa
West Brom 2-2 Sunderland
(Berahino, 2), (Cattermole, Larrson)
West Ham 0-1 Spurs
Arsenal 2-1 Crystal Palace
(Koscielny, Ramsey), (Hangeland)
Liverpool 2-1 Southampton
(Sterling, Sturridge), (Clyne)
Newcastle 0-2 Man City
Burnley 1-3 Chelsea
(Arfield), (Ivanovic, Schurrle, Costa)
Some Opening Day Stats
Chelsea have won 12 of their last 13 opening fixtures. Last season they came back from a goal down to beat newly promoted Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor.
Chelsea also hold the record for the most comprehensive opening day victory, beating West Brom 6-0 in the 2010-11 season. Didier Drogba scored a treble.
Manchester United have only lost 5 opening games in BPL history. The Red Devils have competed in every BPL season, of course, and their last defeat was their most recent, losing 2-1 to Swansea.
Everton, unlike United or Chelsea, have historically struggled on opening day, winning only 6 from 22. Everton did not compete on the opening weekend of the 2011/12 campaign because of the London riots.
Arsenal have been shown more opening-day red cards (six) than any other Premier League side.
Tottenham average just 1.36 points per game in the Premier League on the opening weekend, compared to rivals Arsenal's 1.96.
West Ham have lost nine Premier League games on the opening weekend - more than any other team.
Swansea have scored as many goals in their last three season openers (eight) as they did in the previous nine games combined.
Newcastle United have failed to score in four of their last five opening weekend Premier League fixtures, but have faced Manchester City (twice), Arsenal, and Manchester United, only managing to score against Tottenham in that run.
Liverpool have only drawn a blank three times on the opening weekend of a Premier League campaign (1992-93, 2005-06, and 2012-13).
Bournemouth have won their last two opening-day fixtures in league competition, after managing just one victory in their previous 13, drawing six and losing six.
Everton have conceded more goals on the opening weekend than any other Premier League side (35).
Manchester United are the only team to lose on the opening weekend but go on to win the title, doing so in 1992-93, 1995-96 and 2012-13.
Manchester City have won five of their last six season openers in the Premier League, drawing once. The last two consecutive victories have come against Newcastle United.
Stoke City have won just once on the opening weekend of a Premier League season – against Burnley in 2009-10.
In the last two seasons, both Fulham and Hull City have won on the opening day of the season only to eventually be relegated.
Watford’s last defeat on the opening weekend of a season was back in 2006-07 against Everton; the last time they were in the Premier League.
Southampton have been drawn away from home in each of their last five season openers in the Premier League, winning just one (drawn one, lost three).
Arsenal have lost just one of their last 14 Premier League fixtures on the opening weekend, winning nine and drawing four times.
West Brom’s last four season openers have all been played at the Hawthorns, with their only win in that run coming against Liverpool back in 2012-13.
Norwich City are winless in their last 12 opening day matches in league competition (drawn six, lost six).
The last Sunderland manager to win a Premier League game on the opening weekend was Steve Bruce against Bolton in 2009-10.
Leicester City have scored exactly two goals in six of their last seven matches on the opening day, including in the Premier League last season against Everton.
Crystal Palace have lost their last four season openers and have faced a London side in each of the last two (Tottenham & Arsenal).
After a run of four consecutive opening-day fixtures at Villa Park, Aston Villa have since been on the road in their last four.
In 23 Premier League seasons, the defending champion has never lost their opening game (winning 20 and drawing three).
Overall opening points percentage: Teams to have been in more than five BPL seasons.
(Courtesy of the official Premier League website – this is an average accumulation of points gathered from the opening day)
Man United: 2.00
Man City: 1.50
West Ham: 1.47
Aston Villa: 1.39
Crystal Palace: 0.83
Stoke City: 0.71
West Brom: 0.67
Sheffield Wednesday: 0.50
Overall opening points percentage: Teams to have been in less than five BPL seasons.
Nottingham Forest: 2.40
Sheffield United: 2.33
Hull City: 1.50
What does this mean?
Promoted clubs do tend to struggle on the opening day. But that is by no means the common law of the league. Reading defeated Middlesbrough in their first ever game. For this season, take note of Watford’s two previous opening day fixtures. Both losses. With a new manager already ushered in, FPL Managers are going to be increasingly backing against Watford before the opening day of the season, purely because they are the most unstable of all current sides. Well, perhaps not as unstable as Newcastle, let’s give Watford some credit. But unstable in the sense that the club has gone through a bounty of change in the last twelve months alone, and in the BPL, and such instability is more often than not exposed, not just by heavy hitters, but the bottom of the pack also.
2014/15 FPL Beginnings
With Chelsea having a favourable opening run of games, Liverpool at home against a Saints team most predicted to be relegated, and Arsenal at home to Crystal Palace, FPL Managers picked up where they left off in terms of team selection. Team Dream Team from Gameweek 1 features a barrage of names that out-performed our expectations.
Ramsey, Sterling, Ivanovic, Koscielny. All players on FPL manager’s radar. Analysis of how far we’ve come since that moment, it’s best to summarise that period as a major transitioning period between the seasons. It was a final hurrah for Ramsey, injury prone for much of the season, and a hello to Alexis Sanchez, who would eradicate Ramsey from the minds of FPL addicts. Liverpool without Luis Suarez and an injured Daniel Sturridge would drop Sterling’s value to veteran teams, though Raheem managed to end the season in 28.4% of overall teams. Here’s guessing that he was only in a fraction of active teams. Arsenal’s defence proved unstable, meaning money was better spent on Clyne and the emergent Saints defence.
Several members of this Dream Team would come to dominate player selection choice.
Sigurdsson, valued at only £6.0 million at the start of the FPL season, would go onto accumulate £1 million in wealth before the half way mark of the season, and was the best budget option for players. Fabregas would go onto become un-droppable, all you need to do is read our Season Review to see the facts for yourself. Ivanovic was also the leading contender for Chelsea defender for the first half of the campaign. Clyne fits that same mould. The point being, jumping on the Hype Trains early can provide a huge return for your team, but that’s not always the case.
Eric Dier’s short lived Hype Train.
GW 1 value: £5.0 million
GW 1: 15 points (1-0 away vs. West Ham): One goal, clean sheet, three bonus
GW 2: 14 points (4-0 home vs. QPR): One goal, clean sheet, two bonus
Transfers In, GW 2-5: 727, 064
GW 5 value: £5.5 million
Next FPL points return: GW 15, 6 points (0-0 home vs. Crystal Palace): clean sheet
GW 38 value: £4.6 million (-0.4 from the beginning of the season)
Did you know?
Tottenham’s season came full circle on the final day of last season. Dier, who scored on the opening game vs. West Ham was assisted by the Hurrikane. On the final day, Spurs also won 1-0 vs. Evertom, also away, and it was Dier who assisted Kane.
Lessons learnt from Eric Dier.
Never trust the Spurs defence. The only times they kept consecutive clean sheets was GW’s 1-2, and GW’s 37-38.
Jump on that Hype Train just to boast the value of your FPL squad, then dump the player before the price-drop. Trust us, the drop always happens.
Don’t draft an inform player in two weeks after his stellar performance. If it’s a wildcard player, which Dier was in hindsight, the gamble doesn’t always work. It took Dier another 13 GW’s to perform. What you’ll find is that you’ll be putting him in when people are taking him out, and you are susceptible to your team dropping in value.
If there was a lesson to be learnt, especially for new FPL players, it’s this. As manager’s that jumped on the Dier hype far too late, we’d suggest that in defence stick faith with reliable FPL points whores. Everton, Chelsea, and Southampton, have become the most prominent teams to feature in FPL backlines. The opening day of the season can be very unpredictable, for example - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United, Everton, Southampton – none kept clean sheets on the opening day last season. But in the long-run, except Man United, they are worth inclusion.
Wildcard defenders from teams just below the top four and in the mid-table should have a hazardous warning label against their names. Over the course of the season Chelsea will keep more clean sheets than Stoke, and in general mid-table teams concede more.
Overall, jump on the Hype Trains of players that have something else to offer, such as set piece takers, when looking at putting in form players. Gambles are gambles, set-piece potential should ease your FPL concerns. Slightly.
Food for Thought: Building your Attack
Some striking statistics.
15 of the 23 golden boot winners have scored on the opening day of the season. Sergio Aguero, the 2014-15 golden boot winner is not an exception to the rule. He scored in injury time against Newcastle at St James’s to secure another Man City opening day triumph.
Since the inception of the FPL, only two players have scored hat-tricks on the opening day. Gabriel Agbonlahor in 2008 (4-2 vs. Man City), and Didier Drogba in 2010 (6-0 vs. West Brom) – so don’t expect immediate 20 point returns from your attacking picks.
Frank Lampard has eight goals to his name on the opening day, just as many as Alan Shearer. This stat will bode well for Chelsea in the FPL on the opening day with Eden Hazard sure to be an immediate selections in teams. Players will be hoping Aza is the new Lampard.
Harry Kane assisted Eric Dier on the opening day of last season, his first ever FPL points score. At the time the new FPL sensation was only £5.0 million and was in less than 1% of overall teams.
Charlie Austin missed a penalty on the opening day of last season. Allan McGregor was subsequently the GW dream Keeper as a result.
The only player able to overtake Lampard and Shearer’s opening day record is Wayne Rooney, currently on 6 goals.
Why are certain players more reliable FPL points scorers on opening day of the season?
Set piece takers: penalties, free-kicks, corner kick takers – they are a reliable source of points. These points will come at random points in the season, and at times a long stretch without any returns, but there is always the potential. Often it pays off.
Weighting of the bonus points system heavily favouring defenders in a clean-sheet games, and to influential passing midfielders such as David Silva and Santi Cazorla.
Weighting your team to back experience in the FPL, and the big hitters such as Chelsea and Arsenal.
Man City have been dominant as of late on the opening day, especially against lowly Newcastle. Silva and Aguero have been musts.
Wildcards paying off: Eric Dier is a great example, and there are always a few teams that have these players in. The best team of the week globally usually includes at least 8-9 of the GW’s Dream Team.
Will the 2015/16 opening fixtures be any different?
Looking at the history of the opening day, you’d be wise to put all of your chips behind as many top six teams (minus Spurs) as possible. But that’s never the way in the FPL, players have to have variety, and judging off the statistics provided, there is grim reading for promoted and relegation-battling teams.
With the fixture list released, and the opening day upon us, let’s look at the rundown.
With Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man United playing at home, you’re looking at potential teams that will fill manager’s teams on the opening day. With Man City away at West Brom, then home against Chelsea, it’s a mixed bag at the top of the table. Bournemouth, Norwich, and Sunderland offer budget value. At this time we don’t know what to expect from Newcastle, Liverpool, or Spurs. We’ve already posted an article about the digestion of the fixture list, so we’ll leave all the heavy analysis there.