Why Pochettino's Chelsea are dangerous first foes for Liverpool

15 Jun 2023
Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs

History shows Blues and their new head coach could be a deadly combination on the opening weekend

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Despite enduring a difficult 2022/23, Chelsea have all the ingredients for a strong start this season.

After the fixtures for the new Premier League season were released, Chelsea's first opponents were confirmed as Liverpool, who will travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday 13 August.

Historically, Chelsea are the joint-best performers in Matchweek 1, among clubs who have had at least seven seasons in the Premier League.

See: Man City start title defence against Kompany's Burnley
See: Premier League 2023/24 fixtures released

The Blues' 1-0 win at Everton at the start of the last campaign took their win percentage to an impressive 64.5 per cent, matching Manchester United, whose own record was tarnished by a home defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion

Best MW1 records of 23/24 PL clubs
Team P W D L Win %
NFO 6 4 0 2 66.7
CHE 31 20 6 5 64.5
MUN 31 20 4 7 64.5
LIV 31 18 9 4 58.1
ARS 31 17 6 8 54.8
MCI 26 14 6 6 53.8

Chelsea's reputation as season-opener specialists could be enhanced further following the arrival of new head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who has the joint second-best win percentage among current Premier League managers, alongside Jurgen Klopp, his opposite number in Matchweek 1.

Of the seven fixtures he has overseen in Matchweek 1 with Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, Pochettino has only lost once.

The Argentinian has started the season with a victory in five out of his seven attempts, the same as Liverpool boss Klopp. However, Klopp has the edge after staying unbeaten in his opening-weekend fixtures.

Best win-rate for managers in MW1
Team Played Won Drawn Lost Win %
Guardiola 7 6 0 1 85.7
Houllier 6 5 0 1 83.3
Mourinho 11 9 1 1 81.8
Pochettino 7 5 1 1 71.4
Klopp 7 5 2 0 71.4
Ferguson 21 13 4 4 61.9

It will come as little surprise that Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola sits top of the pile, with an 85.7 per cent win-rate from his seven Matchweek 1 fixtures.

As a club, Man City have won 11 out of their last 12 opening-weekend matches, their only loss being a 1-0 defeat at Spurs in 2021/22 and they will be confident of a 12th win, when they host newly-promoted Burnley on Friday 11 August.

In general, champions tend to start well. There have been only three occasions when a title defence has started with a defeat, and City will aim to maintain that trend.

Champions on opening weekend
P Win Draw Lost Win %
31 24 4 3 77.4

An opening-weekend encounter with a promoted club might seem like the dream scenario, but the other two clubs coming up from the Championship - Sheffield United and Luton Town - should not be underestimated.

After all, in 2021/22 Brentford began life in the Premier League by beating Arsenal 2-0, and the Bees' 2-2 draw at Leicester City at the start of last season left them unbeaten in Matchweek 1.

Last term, AFC Bournemouth beat Aston Villa, while Fulham held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw.

Sheff Utd have a good record ahead of their own Premier League return, losing only one of their five Premier League openers, while Burnley beat reigning champions Chelsea 3-2 in a shock away win in 2017/18.

The Blades face Crystal Palace on Saturday 12 August, with Luton travelling to Brighton & Hove Albion the same day.

This season's promoted trio could make history by all winning on the opening weekend, a treble that has never happened before.

This feat was almost achieved in 2021/22, when Brentford and Watford won, but Norwich City's 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool meant the historic hat-trick of victories was not to be.

Download the 2023/24 fixtures

Also in this series

Part 1: Salah the No 1 player to avoid first up on Fixture Release Day
Part 3: What to look out for on Fixture Release Day
Part 4: How to follow Fixture Release Day for news and FPL insight

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