The worst starts to a Premier League campaign for each one of the 'Big Six'

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Bournemouth's first season back in the Premier League will see them play Aston Villa, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in their first four fixtures. It's a run of games which have already got the pundits fearing the worst for Scott Parker's side (if they weren't already). But is playing the Big Six early on in the season really that bad? After all, you still have to play them twice in a season whatever the make-up of the fixture list.

Planet Sport looks back on seasons when playing the Big Six early on wasn't terrible at all, charting the worst starts to a Premier League season for Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd and Tottenham.

And we start with the very first season of the Premier League - 1992/93 - when, incredibly, all of the Big Six made stuttering starts.


Manchester United went on to win the inaugural Premier League by ten points but failed to win any of their first three games, losing at Sheffield United and at home to Everton before drawing with Ipswich.

An 88th-minute Dion Dublin goal gave them all three points against Southampton to end their winless start and they only suffered four further defeats all season.

Arsenal lost both of their opening games, while Manchester City drew at home to QPR before successive away defeats at Middlesbrough and Blackburn. Chelsea drew three and lost one of their first four - their joint-worst start to a Premier League campaign - and Liverpool's 2-1 win over Sheffield United in their second game, was their only victory from their first six. Three draws and two defeats completed a fairly miserable start for manager Graeme Souness. Tottenham, meanwhile, not for the last time in the Premier League, found themselves at the wrong end of the table in the early stages of the campaign. Spurs could only pick up three draws from their opening five games to leave them one off the bottom entering September.

Arsenal's poor starts to seasons

Arsenal 8-2 defeat to Man Utd Aug11
Arsenal 8-2 defeat to Man Utd Aug11

Three straight defeats kicked off Arsenal's 2021/22 campaign, with the last of those - a 5-0 defeat to Manchester City - ratcheting up the pressure on boss Mikel Arteta. It was only the third time the Gunners have gone the first three games of the Premier League season without registering a win.

The 2011/12 campaign was the second of those (after 2006/07). They opened with a draw against Newcastle and that was then followed by a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool and an 8-2 humbling at the hands of Manchester United.

They stemmed the tide with a narrow victory over Swansea but suffered two further defeats in their next three matches to enter October down in 15th.

They arguably suffered an even worse start in 1994/95, however. Under George Graham they beat Manchester City 3-0 in their opening-day fixture but then failed to score in their next four, picking up two points along the way.

When they did get back on the scoresheet they lost 3-2 to Newcastle, sinking to 15th as a result. It didn't get much better from there, with the Gunners eventually finishing the season in 12th, and with Stewart Houston at the helm.

Chelsea's poor starts to seasons

Chelsea mirrored their start to the 1992/93 campaign in 1995/96, again drawing three and losing one of their opening four games. However, despite winning their opening fixture, the start to the 2000/01 campaign probably rates as their worst. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was on target as they beat West Ham 4-2 first up, but defeat at Bradford City then followed. The Blues then drew their next three before, with manager Gianluca Villa having been shown the door, they lost 2-0 at home to Leicester.

A 3-3 draw with Manchester United lifted the Blues to 16th before they finally got back to winning ways with a 3-0 success at home to Liverpool.

Meanwhile, the 2015/16 campaign has to go down as their most underwhelming start. Reigning champions, they picked up just 16 points from their opening 17 games.

With the Blues down in 16th in mid-December, it spelled the end of Jose Mourinho's second stint at the club. Guus Hiddink replaced him and sparked something of an upturn in fortunes, with the Blues rising to tenth come the season-end.

Liverpool's poor starts to seasons

Only once have Liverpool failed to pick up at least a win from their opening four Premier League fixtures and that came in 2012/13.

A tricky run of fixtures saw them pitted against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United in their opening five games. A 3-0 defeat to West Brom in their opener didn't exactly inspire confidence and although they drew 2-2 with City (and 1-1 with Sunderland), defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United left them 18th, five games into the campaign.

A 5-2 win over Norwich got the season up and running and Brendan Rodgers' side went on to finish seventh, 28 points behind champions Manchester United.

Manchester City's poor starts to seasons

Having started 1992/93 with three games without a win, City extended their winless start to five games the following season, sacking manager Peter Reid four games in.

They would go on to obliterate that record in 1995/96, however, failing to win any of their first 11 games under Alan Ball.

Just two draws - and three goals - came in that sequence, with the last of the run a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool. A 1-0 victory over Bolton ended their winless streak and formed one of four wins in the next five. City's poor start would eventually cost them however, with relegation confirmed on the final day.

Manchester United's poor starts to seasons

Such was United's Premier League dominance that poor starts to the season are framed differently for them. The 2007/08 and 2014/15 seasons both kicked off with two draws and a defeat from their first three to intensify the pressure on the Old Trafford club.

But neither of those seasons can compare to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's 2019/20 and 2020/21 campaigns.

Under Solskjaer, United picked up just ten points from a possible 27 in 2019, winning two and losing three to sit 14th nine games in.

It was little better the following campaign with three defeats from their opening six games leaving them down in 15th.

Tottenham Hotspur's poor starts to seasons

While poor starts to a Premier League season are only a recent occurrence for Man Utd, Tottenham seem to make a habit of them.

Five games without a win to start 1992/93, four games without a win in 1995/96, eight points from a possible 24 under Gerry Francis in 1996/97, and the end of Glenn Hoddle in 2003/04.

Spurs beat Leeds 2-1 in the second game of that campaign, but four defeats in their first six, including ten goals conceded in the final three of them, did for Hoddle. He was replaced by David Pleat who eventually guided Tottenham to 14th.

Four defeats came in Spurs' first seven games of 2006/07, while Martin Jol endured a torrid start to the 2007/08 season before being given his marching orders.

A 4-0 win over Derby in their third game was Spurs' only victory in their first 12 games. Their seven points from their first 11 fixtures left them down in 18th, with only Bolton and a hapless Derby below them.

Glenn Hoddle John Gorman Aug03
Glenn Hoddle John Gorman Aug03

Juande Ramos was brought in to replace Jol and Tottenham rallied to finish 11th but it was to get even worse the following season. With Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane among a number of high-profile departures, Tottenham kicked off the 2008/09 season with a run of eight games without a victory. Just two points came from those games to leave Spurs rock-bottom of the table at the end of October and Ramos out on his ear. Harry Redknapp came in to replace him and Spurs eventually finished eighth.

And while Tottenham's fortunes have improved markedly since then, they still have tjhe odd poor start in them, with the 2015/16 season kicking off with loss, draw, draw, draw before they finally opened their win account at the fifth time of asking with victory over Sunderland.

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