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Total Saints Opinion - "Can Saints reverse their Premier League opening day woes?"

Following on from his/our first Total Saints Opinion last week, TSP patron Alistair Downs has been busy again, taking a look at some of the stats behind Saints woeful Premier League opening day record.

"Saints fans are feeling pretty positive about the upcoming season. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, nobody is feeling completely optimistic ahead of our first game this Saturday - against Crystal Palace.


It has nothing to do with the opposition, form of our team or even our history at Selhurst Park – it’s just that Saints NEVER seem to get a win in the Premier League’s opening weekend.

Lots of fans will tell you that their team are ‘slow starters’ – but with Saints it does genuinely feel as though that opening Premier League fixture holds quite the hex over the Club.

But do the stats actually bear this out?


I won’t leave you in suspense. In short, yes they do!

Taking a look at our opening fixtures since 1993 (did football exist before then?!?), it becomes pretty clear that wins are in desperately short supply:

Saints actually began the Premier League era with no less than SEVEN consecutive seasons of opening day home fixtures.


Surely the law of averages meant that at some point the team would have nicked a 1-0 win?


Granted, some of those teams were tough at that time – but still, 3 draws is a pretty terrible return.

Ironically, we then went and won an opening away-day Premier League fixture at our first attempt!


Egil Ostenstad, who rounded Steve Ogrizovic in the Coventry goal, securing a 1-0 win in August 1999.


With the curse now lifted, the team could move on and start winning more of those tricky opening fixtures, right? Wrong!


From 2000 through until our relegation season in 2004/05, the team reverted to type, and the 2-0 away loss to Villa at the start of 04/05 was an omen of how that wretched season would unfold.

Its not all bad though. Saints return to the Premier League in 2012 has seen a SLIGHT improvement in our opening day fortunes.


Few will quickly forget the 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in August 2012, where we really should have got something.


However, a year later, Rickie Lambert’s last minute penalty at the Hawthorns (vs West Bromwich Albion) gave the team a perfect start to 2013/14.


Since then it has been a winless run, culminating in last season’s largest margin of defeat during those years…and still not a SINGLE home win!

Which ever way you look at them, the opening day numbers really don’t make great reading for Saints fans.


A familiar statistic is that we often fail to even score on the opening day! 10 times from 21 attempts we have failed to register a goal, helping to secure 0-0 'bore draws' on 5 occasions (all at home) during that run.


We also tend to let a fair few in…although we have only once been beaten by more than 2 goals (2019/20 vs Burnley)

Perhaps the most damning statistic is the points taken from those available – a poultry 16 points from the 63 that have been on offer tells it’s own story. A 25% return!

With records like these, it won't be surprising that Saints’ list of 'all-time leading opening day goalscorers in the Premier League' isn't exactly a clash of the titans numbers-wise – although some of our greats still fill the positions!

With three goals, Matt Le Tissier takes the ‘accolade’, with his hat-trick on the opening day of the 1995/96 season.


For most players, an opening day hat-trick would be a day to remember. Unfortunately for poor Matt, Nottingham Forest were able to respond with 4 goals of their own, leaving Le Tiss with nothing but the match ball - and possibly a feeling that it was going to be a long old season (....and he'd have been right - it was!).

With 2 goals a piece, Egil Ostenstad, Hassan Kachloul and Rickie Lambert all secure the runners-up spot.


Both Ostenstad and Lambert can claim opening day ‘winners’, whilst Kachloul’s brace away to Derby in 2000 means his goals at least earned Saints a point.

So there you have it!


Don’t get too dejected if Saints don’t win this coming weekend - it’s kind of what we do!


And, given the above, it'll be even more reason to rejoice if Danny, Ché, Prowsey or ANYBODY for that matter scores a winning goal against the Eagles.


Come on you Saints!!"



Article by Alistair Downs

Uploaded by Ben Stanfield

06/09/2020

(All images property of Alistair Downs and shouldn't be reused without prior written consent)

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