Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring against Fulham

Our record in first meetings with Premier League clubs

Friday 10 November 2023 09:00

It will be a momentous occasion for Luton Town on Saturday, as the Hatters pay a first-ever Premier League visit to Old Trafford.

Having been buoyed by last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool, Rob Edwards’s side will be hoping for another scalp when they take on Manchester United in a league fixture for the first time in over 30 years.

There has not been a United v Luton meeting in the highest division since 1992, when Mick Harford equalised Lee Sharpe's strike to spark a late-season slump that would ultimately cost us the championship in the final First Division season.

When the two teams walk out on Saturday, the Bedfordshire outfit will be the 50th different club we’ve met in a Premier League fixture and, over the years, the first games against new boys in the division have generally gone well for the Reds.

Match preview: United v Luton


Find out all the key information ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with the Hatters.

Of course, a big chunk of them came in the inaugural season of 1992/93 when United got off to a slow start before powering on to a maiden league title under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Only nine of the 21 ‘first’ Premier League fixtures against each of the competing teams that term were won by the Reds (eight draws, four defeats), but we have a remarkably good record in the years since.

Leaving out Luton for a moment, 28 clubs which were not part of the division when it launched have since played in the Premier League and we have won 20, drawn five and lost just three of the opening games back against those sides.

That includes a run of 11 straight victories between 1996/97 and 2005/06, starting with a 5-0 demolition of Sunderland in a game famous for Eric Cantona’s majestic chip.

Barnsley, Charlton Athletic, Bradford City and Watford were all easily beaten, before an entertaining contest with Fulham on the opening day of the 2001/02 season was settled by a double from home debutant Ruud van Nistelrooy (pictured in main image).

Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Portsmouth, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic can also count themselves victims of the run, which ended in 2006 with a draw at Reading.

The Royals are one of five sides to hold United in these circumstances post-1993, along with Newcastle United, Leicester City and Derby County in the early years of the Premier League, and Cardiff City, who drew 2-2 with us during David Moyes’s season in charge.

United have only lost a trio of maiden meetings with Premier League new boys and each one of those defeats came away from home.

Early team news for Hatters clash


The latest from United and Luton in advance of Saturday's Premier League fixture.

A Robbie Blake wondergoal at Turf Moor shocked Sir Alex’s reigning champions in August 2009 and Bournemouth also claimed a famous scalp eight years ago, beating Louis van Gaal’s United on a wet and windy December night on the south coast.

Huddersfield were the last opposing side to taste success against United in their first meeting with us in the league, the Terriers battling to a 2-1 victory in October 2017.

Complete record: P49 W29 D13 L7