Manchester United are the only team to lose game one and win the title

Manchester City look away! Only ONE team has won the league after losing their first game of the season – and that’s Sir Alex Ferguson’s United on three occasions… so, can Pep Guardiola’s side avoid the bad omens ahead of them?

  • Manchester City lost their opening game of the Premier League season to Spurs
  • Only one team has won the league after losing their first game – Man United 
  • Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils lost game one three times then won the league
  • United are also the only club to fail to win their first game then retain the title
  • Chelsea and Leicester were the last top-flight champions to lose game one 

Manchester City will look back in history and be concerned: only one Premier League club has ever won the league after losing their first game – and it’s their arch-rivals Manchester United.

Pep Guardiola’s side 1-0 lost away to Tottenham in their opening match of the new campaign thanks to Son Heung-min’s second-half winner, meaning the Catalan’s side are already chasing the likes of United, Chelsea and Liverpool in the leading pack. 

There is plenty time for City’s manager to lift them back into top spot, but the Premier League trend suggests they are likely to fall short due to this early setback. 

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City lost on their first match as reigning league champions

Son Hueng-Min’s (right) goal gave Tottenham a 1-0 win over City on the opening weekend

Sir Alex Ferguson’s United actually won the Premier League on three occasions after losing their first game, including the famous 1995 defeat to Aston Villa where Alan Hansen ushered the famous line: ‘You can’t win anything with kids’.

Ferguson’s double winners from the year before travelled to Villa on the opening day of the season with an injury-hit squad. Paul Ince, Andrei Kanchelskis and Mark Hughes had been sold while Steve Bruce, Andy Cole and Ryan Giggs were injured and Eric Cantona still suspended for his ‘kung fu’ kick at Crystal Palace earlier in the year. 

As a result, youngsters such as David Beckham, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes appeared in the Red Devils’ starting line-up but goals from Ian Taylor, Mark Draper and Dwight Yorke put Villa into a 3-0 lead before Beckham netted a late consolation. 

Only one club has won the league after losing their first game – Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United

United lost the opening game of the 1995-96 season 3-1 to Aston Villa before winning the title

On Match of the Day later that evening, Hansen made the statement that would elevate him to punditry fame.

Speaking about United’s start to the season, he said: ‘I think they’ve got problems. I wouldn’t say they’ve got major problems. Obviously, three players have departed. 

‘The trick is always buy when you’re strong, so he needs to buy players. You can’t win anything with kids. 

‘You look at that line-up at Manchester United today and Aston Villa, at quarter-past two, when they get the team sheet, it’s just going to give them a lift, and it’ll happen every time he plays the kids. He’s got to buy players, simple as that.’

Alan Hansen said Ferguson’s side ‘would never win anything with kids’ after the Villa loss

Ferguson’s youthful side were league champions the following May by five clear points

How wrong Hansen would be. Ferguson stuck with his guns and went unbeaten for the next ten games with the same set of players, winning eight of those games. After New Year’s Day, the Red Devils lost just once in the league until the end of the season and won the league by five points. 

United also lost their opening match in their inaugural Premier League match, suffering a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield United at the start of the 1992-93 season. 

More recently, Ferguson’s United were beaten 1-0 by Everton in their first match of the 2012-13 season, which was Robin van Persie’s first game in United colours following his shock £25million transfer from Arsenal that summer. 

Marouane Fellaini, who would go on to join United, headed home the winning goal at Goodison Park and van Persie could do little to affect the result from the substitutes’ bench. 

The Red Devils also lost 1-0 to Everton at the start of the 2012-13 season, which they won

Ferguson’s (left) side have also drawn their first game three times before retaining the title

But the Dutchman turned his and United’s season around by scoring 26 goals in his first season at Old Trafford, guiding the Red Devils to a 20th Premier League title, though the club have not won the title since then.  

United have also been the only team to retain the Premier League title after failing to win their opening league game as champions. 

Ferguson’s side drew matches against Everton, Reading and Newcastle in 1999, 2007 and 2008 respectively, before bouncing back to lift the title come May. 

Blackburn Rovers also drew their opening league game in 1994 – a 1-1 stalemate with Southampton – before winning the league title for the first time the following May, while Arsenal began their double-winning season in 1998 with a draw by the same scoreline away at Leeds. 

Chelsea are the most recent champions to lose their first game – a 3-2 home loss to Burnley

Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas (left) were sent off for Chelsea in that game at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea are the latest team to lose their opening league match as Premier League champions after Antonio Conte’s side were beaten 3-2 at home to Burnley in the summer of 2017. Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas were sent off for Chelsea in that game.

A Sam Vokes brace and Stephen Ward’s goal fired the Clarets into a three-goal lead at half-time, while Alvaro Morata and David Luiz pulled back late consolations for the Blues. 

The year before, surprise champions Leicester City lost 2-1 away at Hull City on their first game back after Claudio Ranieri’s side had won the league at 5000-1 odds in 2016.  

It’s not quite a long way back for Manchester City, but the omens do not look bright for the reigning champions. 

Robert Snodgrass and Hull City beat Leicester on the opening day of the 2016-17 season

It’s not quite a long way back for Manchester City, but the omens do not look bright for them

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