One game in… what usually happens to the Champions and relegation candidates?

With the 2012-13 Premier League season now underway, I thought I’d take a look back through previous opening-day results to see how the eventual champions and relegated clubs have fared:

Champions

The following table shows how the eventual champions fared on the opening day of each of the 20 Premier League seasons:

– The combined record of the eventual champions reads: Won 12 / Drawn 6 / Lost 2
– Not since the 1995-96 season has the title been won by a team that lost on the opening day
– The last 13 title winners have conceded no more than a single goal on the opening day of their successful campaign
– Ten of the last 12 champions have recorded a victory on the opening day of their title-winning season
– Eight of the last 12 champions have kept a clean sheet on the opening day of their successful campaign
– In the previous six seasons, the eventual champions have scored 0 goals, 1 goal, 2 goals, 3 goals, 4 goals and 5 goals on the opening day (though not in that order)
– The eventual title-winners have found the net on the opening day in 19 of the previous 20 seasons

Relegated

The following table shows how the clubs that were eventually relegated fared on the opening day of each of the 20 Premier League seasons:

– The combined record of the eventual relegated clubs reads: Won 11 / Drawn 18 / Lost 32
– Three of the six clubs relegated in the previous two seasons have recorded a victory on the opening day of their unsuccessful campaign
– Clubs that were eventually relegated together have met on the opening day of the season four times in Premier League history
– Just 12 clean sheets out of a possible 61 have been kept on the opening day of the season by clubs that were eventually relegated
– A total of 39 of the 61 clubs that were eventually relegated have found the net on the opening day of their unsuccessful season

Summary

Although it would be foolish to read too much into this, the numbers suggest that, of the likely title contenders, Chelsea are best-placed to be crowned champions come May. The relegation waters are far muddier, though supporters of Fulham and Swansea, both 5-0 winners in the first game, should be aware that Blackpool and Bolton have each lost their top-flight status in recent seasons following comprehensive opening-day victories. Nobody knows for sure what will happen in the upcoming Premier League campaign, though we do know that the tide of recent history will have to be swum against if the title is to reside in either half of Manchester.