Liverpool’s highs and lows from opening-day fixtures in the Premier League era

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Liverpool begin the 2017/18 season amid great expectation, and here’s a look at the highs and lows from previous Premier League openers.

As we all know, football was invented in 1992 with the birth of a new concept which they named the Premier League.

Liverpool are one of only six teams to have taken part in every season since the inception of the new English top flight, and will be looking for another victory when they take to Watford on Saturday.

But how have the Reds’ previous season openers fared since 1992/93? Here are the most notable outings.

 

1992: Nottingham Forest 1-0 Liverpool

Graeme Souness, Liverpool manager, 1991 (Picture by Ross Kinnaird EMPICS Sport)

Liverpool’s first game in the Premier League era set the tone for things to come.

A loss to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground wasn’t good, especially seeing as “we hate Nottingham Forest”. A rivalry was born…

Teddy Sheringham was the goalscorer that day, and he would go on to score six more goals against the Reds, four of which came at Anfield during his Tottenham days.

 

1994: Crystal Palace 1-6 Liverpool

Liverpool, England - Wednesday, November 27th, 1996: Liverpool's Steve McManaman celebrates scoring the opening goal with team-mate Robbie Fowler during the 4-2 victory over Arsenal during the 4th Round of the League Cup at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool finished sixth in that first season under Graeme Souness, but by 1994, with Roy Evans at the helm, the club looked like they were beginning to get the hang of things.

A 6-1 win versus Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park was a catalyst for a League Cup-winning season, and though the club only finished fourth they showed signs of progress, breaking the 70-point mark for the first time in four seasons.

Steve McManaman and Ian Rush both bagged a brace that day, with Jan Molby and Scouse wonderkid Robbie Fowler also on the scoresheet.

The latter led the club’s scoring charts that season with 25 goals.

 

1996: Middlesbrough 3-3 Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 6, 1996: Liverpool's John Barnes in action against Rochdale during the FA Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Evans’ sides were known for their attacking football, and in 1996 a goal-filled thriller at the Riverside opened the season.

Stig Inge Bjornebye, John Barnes and Fowler were on target for the Reds, but they were denied a win by a debut hat-trick from Middlesbrough’s new Italian signing, Fabrizio Ravanelli.

Liverpool’s attack did their job, but the back three couldn’t cope with Juninho and Ravanelli.

 

2003: Liverpool 1-2 Chelsea

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 26, 2003: Liverpool's manager Ge?rard Houllier pictured against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite his entertaining style, Evans was unable to bring anything more than a League Cup to the club, and a disappointing loss to Manchester United in the 1996 FA Cup final only made things worse.

By 2003, Gerard Houllier was in complete charge of the side, having managed alongside Evans for a short period in 1998.

The Frenchman had brought success back to the club with a cup treble in 2001, and another League Cup in 2003, but the opening day of the next season saw his side fall to a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at Anfield.

A Michael Owen penalty cancelled out Juan Sebastian Veron’s opener, but a late Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink goal gave Claudio Ranieri’s side the win.

 

2006: Sheffield United 1-1 Liverpool

Liverpool, England - Saturday, February 24, 2007: Liverpool's Robbie Fowler celebrates scoring the opening goal against Sheffield United from a penalty kick with his team-mate Mark Gonzalez, as goalkeeper Patrick Kenny looks dejected during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Houllier was replaced by Rafa Benitez in 2004 and the Spaniard’s triumphs in his first two seasons need no further elaboration here.

But the opening game of the 2006 season saw his side slump to a disappointing draw at newly promoted Sheffield United.

A Rob Hulse goal gave the home side the lead, and Liverpool were only spared the embarrassment of defeat when a controversial penalty awarded by referee Rob Styles was converted by Fowler.

“The thing is, 95 percent of the people who have watched the replay of the incident know it’s not a penalty,” said their manager Neil Warnock after the game, and replays showed that Chris Morgan had made little to no contact with Steven Gerrard, the man he supposedly fouled.

 

2012: West Bromwich Albion 3-0 Liverpool

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 18, 2012: Liverpool's Andy Carroll in action against West Bromwich Albion during the opening Premiership match of the season at the Hawthorns. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Post-Benitez, a dark period of Liverpool history followed, but new manager Brendan Rodgers promised to breath some life back into the club with a return to the pass and move style of old.

His tenure got off to the worst start, however, with a 3-0 loss at the Hawthorns.

Zoltan Gera, Peter Odemwingie and Romelu Lukaku gave Rodgers’ former Chelsea colleague, Steve Clarke, an unexpected but welcome start to his own new job.

 

2013: Liverpool 1-0 Stoke City

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 17, 2013: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet celebrates with team-mates after saving a late Stoke City penalty during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The following season Rodgers began to prove his worth, but it could have been very different were it not for a Simon Mignolet penalty save on the opening day against Stoke.

There was little to celebrate until that moment but the club would have been happy with the win and encouraging performances from goalscorer Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and debutant Iago Aspas.

The award of a penalty for a Daniel Agger handball in the 89th minute seemed like the worst thing that could happen after they’d dominated the game.

But the Belgian stopper’s save from Jonathan Walters created the momentum which would see the club come the closest they ever have to winning a Premier League title.

 

2016: Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date August 14th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

And to the present day, where it’s fitting to remember one of the most exciting opening-day games in the club’s history, under a hopeful new dawn led by charismatic manager Jurgen Klopp.

An Adam Lallana goal sandwiched between two strikes from the team’s forever-rising star man Philippe Coutinho gave the side a 3-1 lead as they dismantled Arsenal after Theo Walcott’s opener.

The Gunners came back twice to make it 3-1, and at times in the second half it looked like the game would swing the way of Arsene Wenger’s side.

But the outstanding fourth goal from Liverpool’s latest Southampton recruit, Sadio Mane, deserved to win the game and it did, just.

The perfect gift for any Liverpool fan, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster tells the glorious history of the Reds through hundreds of illustrations.

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