Every beginning can be considered a promise born in light, and such optimism is certainly reflected among Arsenal fans as we approach Friday night and the long-awaited return of Premier League football.
The Gunners will begin the new campaign at Crystal Palace keen to improve upon last year’s dreadful start – when three consecutive defeats left them rooted to the bottom of the division – and they can draw additional motivation from the painful memories of our last visit to Selhurst Park.
Ranking Arsenal’s five most memorable opening day games in the Premier League era
Armed, on this occasion, with the inspirational words of Irish poet Brendan Kennelly and the fruits of an extraordinary summer spend, there is renewed hope Mikel Arteta’s project is set to “bang” imminently and that the club can kick off 2022/23 by claiming their 17th opening-day win in the Premier League era.
It is important to start as you mean to go on and so, as excitement builds in anticipation of tomorrow night’s curtain-raiser, here are five memorable occasions when Arsenal managed to do just that.
5. Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal (2001)
We begin this countdown with the 2001 trip up north to the Riverside Stadium, where the Gunners secured an emphatic victory over Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough.
The visitors were naturally touted as favourites in preparation for this encounter but had registered a poor record on the road in the previous campaign – winning just five of 19 matches away from Highbury – and they were eager to set the pace early on after a disappointing second-placed finish behind Manchester United.
Nerves were frayed at times during the game as, despite Thierry Henry’s sumptuous strike on the stroke of half-time, Ray Parlour’s dismissal shortly after the interval reduced Arsenal to ten men and gave the underdogs hope of causing a major upset.
However, Middlesbrough failed to make the numerical advantage count and barely threatened David Seaman in goal before a controversial penalty and red card of their own sealed the points five minutes from time.
The floodgates were promptly opened as Dennis Bergkamp scored twice in quick succession to make it 4-0, and the flattering score-line propelled Arsene Wenger’s men to the top of the table.
Continued on the next slide…