Results: Charlton Athletic 1-2 Everton, Derby County 2-1 Blackburn Rovers, Leeds United 2-0 Southampton, Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers, Liverpool FC 2-1 West Ham United, Middlesbrough 0-4 Arsenal, Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Aston Villa, Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle United, Manchester United 3-2 Fulham
The opening weekend of the 2001-2002 Premier League season saw 28 goals in its first weekend with a new title sponsor. Barclaycard had taken over sponsorship rights over the summer from Carling.
Fulham were welcomed into the Premier League family and they had a daunting first fixture too against reigning Premier League champions Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson was looking to achieve four titles in a row in what at the time we thought was going to be his final campaign in the dugout at Old Trafford.
They were pushed all the way by the newcomers, with Louis Saha making an immediate impression. The Frenchman scored twice as Fulham led twice but their best efforts were cancelled out by United’s new £19 million striker. Ruud van Nistelrooy helped himself to a debut double and the home side came away with all three points in a nervy 3-2 victory.
Unlike Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers did boast previous Premier League experience. They both returned to the top-flight on this weekend, with mixed fortunes. Blackburn lost 2-1 at Derby County, as Fabrizio Ravanelli scored a trademark free-kick on his return to English football.
On the other hand, Bolton had a day to savour at Filbert Street, crushing Leicester City 5-0. The outstanding Per Frandsen scored two free-kicks and Kevin Nolan also scored twice as the pressure cranked up on Leicester boss Peter Taylor.
There was a bad-tempered match on Teeside as Arsenal travelled to Middlesbrough. Steve McClaren’s first game as a Premier League boss ended in a 4-0 home defeat as Arsenal began their extraordinary run of scoring in every single league match in the season. Both Ugo Ehiogu and Ray Parlour were sent off with two late goals by Dennis Bergkamp making the scoreline look more flattering than how the actual game developed.
Liverpool FC had Michael Owen to thank once again. Owen continued where he left off from the previous season in his dream year which saw him finish as the European Footballer of the Year. He scored twice as the Reds defeated West Ham United 2-1 at Anfield. Lastly, Chelsea and Newcastle United shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. This match was more notable as it was the first game in the UK that was made available via a pay-per-view subscription model. Premiership Plus would be around on the Sky platform for the next five seasons.
What else happened in August 2001?
- Former royal butler Paul Burrell is charged with theft of items that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. The prosecution collapses three months later.
- A plane crash in the Bahamas claims the life of American R&B performer Aaliyah and eight members of her record company. She was just 22-years-old.
- Law goes into effect in Germany legalizing same-sex registered partnerships.
- Whitney Houston signs the largest contract in music history with Arista Records, a six-album deal worth over $100 million.
- Michael Schumacher wins the FIA Formula One World Championship with victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. It is the German’s fourth world title.
- The BBC introduces a fourth weekly episode of EastEnders, to be broadcast at 8pm every Friday night.