LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Marouane Fellaini of Everton competes with Antonio Valencia of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on August 20, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Premier League Week 1: Everton Beat Manchester United 1-0

Marouane Fellaini's powerful second half header was enough to overcome title-challengers Manchester United as Everton deservedly took all three points at Goodison Park.

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Brendan Rodgers Manufactures Some Liverpool Deja Vu

Remember Roy Hodgson's first game in charge of Liverpool? It was a lot like Brendan Rodgers', only infinitely less disastrous.


Manchester City Vs. Southampton: Final Score 3-2, City Squeak Past Saints

A less-than-impressive win marked the beginning of Manchester City's title defence. With their season starting with a home game against newly-promoted Southampton, one might be forgiven for expecting the hosts to essentially stroll to three points under the August sun, but City had an off day while the Saints played superbly, coming very close to staging the biggest upset of the young season.

Southampton acquitted themselves fairly well early in the first half, stationing themselves firmly in the City box and controlling play in the early stages. It was fairly obvious that that was something of a mirage, but for the first ten minutes the Saints showed that they could play with the big boys.

And injure the big boys, as it turns out. Sergio Aguero was threatening to burst down the City left when he was halted by a ferocious tackle from Nathaniel Clyne, the sort that makes you wonder whether it was entirely legal despite the fact that the right back took the ball cleanly. Aguero landed very awkwardly, twisting his knee, and after several minutes of medical attention was stretchered off -- obviously bad news for the defending champions.

Roberto Mancini's mood would not have been improved by what happened next. 17 minutes in, some excellent play from City led to Jos Hooiveld bringing Carlos Tevez down in the box, a stonewall penalty despite the defender's protests. It was a perfect opportunity for City to break the deadlock... and David Silva made a complete mess of it, sending a weak spot kick straight at Kelvin Davis. Ooops.

That penalty miss looked as though it could end up fairly costly. City weren't looking particularly dangerous in front of goal, with Southampton defending both pretty well and in numbers, but Tevez was obviously a bright spark and he was able to execute a perfectly timed run and finish just before halftime to give the hosts a 1-0 lead, picking up the ball from Samir Nasri before slotting in at Davis' near post.

For many teams, that would have been enough to collapse. Southampton tried to, but City wouldn't let them. The second half saw some gilt-edged changes for Mancini's men to pad their lead, with Silva hitting the bar and substitute Edin Dzeko unable to control after some fine work by Nasri on the left wing and the goal at his mercy. Eventually the Saints would regroup and make City pay for their profligacy.

Introducing Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis certainly helped. Lambert was last season's top scorer in the Championship, and his introduction made an immediate impact, terrifying the City defence and giving Southampton a real boost going forward. That said, what happened next was still a surprise. A loose ball in Joe Hart's box looked like a half chance until Lambert got there, blistering a first-time shot past the keeper to make it 1-1.

It was a stunning goal, and there was better to come from the visitors. Less than ten minutes later, City new boy Jack Rodwell gave the ball away in midfield, and a fast break from Southampton led to another goal, which was eventually slotted home by Davis. The midfielder, not the goalkeeper. That would have been weird.

At any rate, City had to reply, and they did so more or less immediately. Dzeko managed to find some space on a corner kick, and the ball broke kindly for him to rocket a shot past Davis (the goalkeeper) to draw City level. Then Nasri capped off an excellent match by taking advantage of a really awful mistake from Danny Fox -- the left back turned a cross going out of play into a cushioned pass to the unmarked City man -- volleying into the top corner to give the hosts another lead.

They were able to hold this one, but it was touch and go. Fair play to Southampton, who came to one of the most difficult grounds to win on in the league and more than held their own. City won't be pleased with the performance, but three points are three points. As for the neutral... well, that was pretty fun, wasn't it?


Sergio Aguero Injury Forces Striker Off

Well that's not good news for Manchester City. Less than ten minutes into their first Premier League match of the 2012/13 season, last season's hero Sergio Aguero is off the pitch at the Eithad Stadium. The Argentinian striker, whose last-gasp goal against Queens Park Rangers won the title for City, went into a tackle with Southampton right back Nathaniel Clyne and came out not very well at all, twisting his knee awkwardly as he went down.

Aguero ended up being treated for some time by the City medical staff, and although signs were initially promising as he was able to hobble to the sidelines, a few minutes later the stretcher was recalled and he was carried off down the tunnel. Edin Dzeko will replace him in this match, but if that injury is as serious as it looks right now, Roberto Mancini's going to have a bit of a problem. Good thing he has four excellent centre forwards in his squad.


Manchester City Vs. Southampton: Lineups

Time for the defending champions to kick off their first match of the season. Manchester City host newly-promoted Southampton in their first competitive match since that goal by Sergio Aguero, and you wouldn't really expect them to have too much difficulty with the Saints here. The visitors have contrived to leave their two best players in Rickie Lambert and Steven Davis on the bench, which seems dangerous, while Roberto Mancini looks like he's abandoning the 3-5-2 he's been playing with in preseason.

Manchester City starting lineup (4-4-2): Joe Hart; Gael Clichy, Joleon Lescott, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta; David Silva, Jack Rodwell, Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri; Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez.

Substitutes from: Costel Pantilimon, James Milner, Edin Dzeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, Stefan Savic, Nigel de Jong, Mario Balotelli.

Southampton starting lineup (4-5-1): Kelvin Davis; Danny Fox, Jos Hooiveld, Jose Fonte, Nathanial Clyne; Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin, Guly do Prado, James Ward-Prowse, Jason Puncheon; Jay Rodriguez.

Substitutes from: Paulo Gazzaniga, Rickie Lambert, Steven Davis, Billy Sharp, Frazer Richardson, Luke Shaw, Danny Seaborne.


Wigan Athletic Vs. Chelsea: Final Score 2-0, Blues Cruise Past Latics

Early goals from Branislav Ivanovic and Frank Lampard proved enough to see off the Latics, who were lively but ultimately toothless.


Wigan Vs. Chelsea: Lineups

Chelsea hand a start to Ryan Bertrand, while Oscar is on the bench and Ramires misses out. Mauro Boselli is on the bench for Wigan, with Franco Di Santo starting.


Manchester City Vs. Southampton 2012: Game Time, TV Schedule, Live Updates And More

Manchester City are probably going to beat Southampton pretty easily on Sunday. But maybe they won't!


Wigan Vs. Chelsea 2012: Game Time, TV Schedule, Live Updates And More

Chelsea look to get their season off to a fast start as they travel to face Wigan Athletic


Newcastle United Vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Final Score 2-1 As Magpies Open Season With Win

An odd match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur marked Andre Villas-Boas' first game in charge. There had been some doubts raised over just how effective Spurs would be without Emmanuel Adebayor and Luka Modric, and although they managed a reasonable game against the Magpies, they were ultimately undone by a lack of cutting edge and some very naive defending in a 2-1 loss.

The visitors started the game broadly on top, helped by an early groin problem picked up by Newcastle midfielder Cheik Tiote. It looked as though it would be bad enough to force the Ivorian out of the game -- Vurnon Anita warmed up only to be sat back down on the verge of making his debut* -- but even though Tiote was able to play on he was clearly some distance from his best.

*He'd get it in the second half, coming on in the 71st minute for Yohan Cabaye.

Despite Steven Taylor's return, Newcastle's back line was very weak. With Fabricio Coloccini absent, James Perch partnered Taylor in the centre and Danny Simpson went up against Gareth Bale on the left, which had exactly the expected results. The defence looked panicked, and third band of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon and Bale gave them plenty of problems all evening.

It was actually the hosts who had the best chance of scoring early, however, although it was mostly an accident. Papiss Cisse took the Premier League by storm last season following his arrival from SC Freiburg (he'd been busy taking the Bundesliga by storm prior to that), and he barely missed grabbing yet another goal here. That said, he'd have had basically nothing to do with it -- Demba Ba tried a very speculative long range effort that struck his compatriot in the foot. Brad Friedel was wrong footed and forced to watch in horror as the ball trickled just wide of his right hand post. It would have been an undeserved goal, but it was a massive letoff regardless.

Spurs had their chances too. Some brilliant interplay by Bale and Sigurdsson set Jermain Defoe free, and the centre forward did superbly to twist past Taylor before rattling Tim Krul's near post. The woodwork came to Newcastle's rescue again a few minutes later following excellent work by Aaron Lennon, who swung in a cross which Bale ended up nodding off the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten.

Thanks at least partially to Tiote's struggles, Tottenham had complete control of the centre of the pitch to in the first half. But Alan Pardew made some changes at halftime, going away from the 4-4-2 and pushing Demba Ba over to the left hand side. That allowed the hosts to contest the centre a little better -- and it also resulted in the opening goal.

Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa exchanged passes in the centre before the former sprayed the ball out wide for Simpson. The fullback's cross was met by Kyle Walker, who completely failed to execute a proper clearance. Instead, the ball was popped up and fell to the grateful Ba, who allowed it to bounce before dispatching a brilliant half volley into the top corner, leaving Friedel completely stranded.

Tottenham attempted to recover, but about all they managed in response to Ba's opener was getting Pardew sent to the stands following an argument about whether or not Bale had kept the ball in play in the Newcastle defensive third. Spurs were allowed to continue despite the hosts having a clear case for a throw-in, a decision that incensed Pardew to the point that he shoved the referee's assistant and was rightly sent off for it.

But what Spurs needed was a way of getting back into the match, and forcing Pardew to communicate via semaphore wasn't going to help them much there. Rafael van der Vaart was Villas-Boas' answer. It turned out to be an effective one. The Dutch midfielder generated a slew of chances for Tottenham before the visitors were finally able to make a breakthrough, with Defoe able to poke home the rebound after Davide Santon forced Krul into a sprawling save to prevent what would have been an unfortunate own goal.

At 1-1, Newcastle were forced to go onto the attack once more, and it didn't take long at all for them to restore their lead. Just why Lennon and van der Vaart were left defending against Ben Arfa is more than a little bit unclear, but it came as no surprise when they screwed things up rather magnificently, allowing the midfielder to dart between them before Lennon brought him down. In the penalty area.

Having won the spot kick, Ben Arfa took it superbly, sending Friedel the wrong way and tucking his shot perfectly into the bottom left-hand corner. There were ten minutes left for Spurs to haul their way back into the match -- they'd been level for just four -- and that simply wasn't enough time.


West Ham United Vs. Aston Villa: Final Score 1-0 As Hammers Mark Top Flight Return With Win

Aston Villa flopped in their first outing under new manager Paul Lambert, but West Ham United will be thrilled to mark their return to the top flight with three points. Villa were by and large the better side, dominating possession at Upton Park and generating most of the (few) chances, but all it took was a ricochet off Ciaran Clark and a Kevin Nolan tap-in to secure the win for the Hammers.

Villa can't feel too hard done by. They had plenty of the ball but didn't do very much of it, and with their most creative presence in Barry Bannan confined to the bench for much of the match it's not really very hard to see why. Compared to the dark days of Alex McLeish, however, this wasn't a terrible performance. They've at least learned how to pass the ball. All that remains for them to do is figure out how to score more goals than the opposition. Expect slow and steady progress.


Reading Vs. Stoke City: All Square At The Madejski

If you had followed Ryan Rosenblatt's advice and bet on their being more cards than shots on target, you would've just lost out. Stoke City and Reading combined for two goals, five shots on target and two cards in a contest that was so statistically even Stoke City nearly managed to reach 50% in possession for the second time in their Premier League history.

Stoke's goal resulted from a goalkeeping error by Adam Federici; Michael Kightly won the second ball from a knockdown in the penalty area, and, from the middle of the box, hit a soft dipping shot to Federici's near post. Inexplicably, the Australian goalkeeper let the shot squirm in, to give Stoke a 1-0 lead.

Reading tried to find an equaliser, but they were often prohibited from doing so by Stoke's tactical fouling. They continued to push for an equaliser though, with Danny Guthrie running things well in the midfield, displaying his excellent long-range passing ability. Reading, though, lacked a cutting edge, with Pavel Pogbrenyak particularly disappointing. They would be held until Dean Whitehead fouled Garath McLeary in the penalty box in the 89th minute, earning himself a second yellow card. Reading's top goal-scorer from last year, Adam Le Fondre, scored the penalty, giving the hosts a deserved point in their return to the Premier League.


Queens Park Rangers Vs. Swansea City: Final Score 5-0 To Swans. No, Really.

Queens Park Rangers had a terrible defense in the 2011-12 season, and decided that the best way to rectify this problem was to sign Fabio da Silva on loan from Manchester United and hilariously error-prone goalkeeper Robert Green on a free transfer. Fabio and Green were just two of many hilariously poor QPR players on Saturday, as they got steamrolled 5-0 by Swansea.

Many expected Swansea to struggle after the departures of Brendan Rodgers, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Joe Allen, but those people were apparently unfamiliar with the awesomeness that is their new manager Michael Laudrup. With a gang of new value signings and a similar style of football to his predecessor, Rodgers set up a team on Saturday that put together the most spectacular performance the Swans' fans could have possibly asked for.

Swansea got off to a brilliant start, with Michu scoring a great goal from the edge of the penalty area in the 8th minute. For the rest of the first half, Swansea played well but couldn't finish off their chances. They got a bit more clinical in the second half and took QPR to the woodshed with four goals. Michu added a second in the 53rd minute before Nathan Dyer went on a rampage, scoring two goals of his own.

Scott Sinclair closed the scoring in the 81st minute, assisted by Michu. QPR will move on to ... probably not brighter days, because they're a pretty bad side.


Arsenal Vs. Sunderland: Final Score 0-0, Sunderland's Defence Earns Point

A Robin van Persie-less Arsenal were held 0-0 at the Emirates by a reasonably impressive performance from Sunderland. It wasn't a great game -- there weren't that many clear-cut chances and the game was mostly played around the edges of the Black Cats' box. But with the Gunners having to bed in so many new signings at once, a quiet draw to start the season isn't much of a surprise.

The first half was mildly entertaining, with some chances for Sunderland swimming in the quagmire of blown Arsenal opportunities. Santi Cazorla had a neat shot from range which Simon Mignolet was forced to bat aside, leading Martin O'Neill to deploy Lee Cattermole as the new acquisition's personal marker/fouler. Cazorla was probably the hosts' best player in the first half, and the only one capable of threading passes to a front three that was actually looking reasonably lively.

That said, new acquisition Lukas Podolski was clearly miscast as a centre forward. He was dropping far too deep and then failing to pounce on the opportunities that presented themselves. Twice the ball broke to him in the six yard box, and a more natural striker -- yes, I'm going to invoke van Persie's name here -- would probably have notched at least one. Podolski got clean contact on neither.

There were some concerns about Arsenal's defending, with Per Mertesacker looking particularly inept, a worrying sign when he was deployed next to Carl Jerkinson. But as the game went on and the Gunners turned the screws, the threat of Sunderland actually scoring a goal diminished, and the match became a question of whether or not Arsenal would actually be able to break down the visitors' defence.

It turned out that no they could not. Arsene Wenger tried to change things up by introducing an actual centre forward in Olivier Giroud, and the former Montpellier striker did make a difference, exploiting the space between Sunderland's centre backs and generally giving the Black Cats far more trouble than did his predecessor. But even when he did get into that space, he wasted it.

In the 76th minute, both Giroud and Cazorla did fantastically. The former looped around John O'Shea with an excellent run, and the latter found him with an equally excellent through ball. And then, with only Mignolet to beat, he blasted well wide from eight yards.

It's not a good start to the season for new-look Arsenal. But there's plenty of time for things to get better... oh wait they've just confirmed that Alex Song's been sold. Uh oh.


West Bromwich Albion Vs. Liverpool: Final Score, Baggies Pull Off 3-0 Romp

Brendan Rodgers' first game at the help of Liverpool FC couldn't have possibly been any more of a disaster. His side played an unspectacular, but rather even game for most of the first half until Zoltan Gera scored a stunning goal to put the Baggies ahead. The second half was much worse for Liverpool, who had Daniel Agger sent off, signaling the start of West Brom's domination in a 3-0 rout.

The score should have been a lot worse than it was, and doesn't do justice to how completely useless the Reds were in the second half. Gera's stunning 20-yard volley in the 43nd minute set the stage for a meltdown of a second half, and things truly got ugly in the 59th minute. That's when Daniel Agger pushed down Shane Long in the box, giving away a penalty and picking up a red card.

Lucky for Agger and Liverpool, Long took a terrible penalty and kicked the ball right into the arms of Pepe Reina. They stayed in the match for another four minutes until the Baggies drew another penalty, this time conceded by Martin Skrtel. Peter Odemwingie stepped up to take the second spot kick of the game and buried it, putting West Brom up 2-0.

Romelu Lukaku came on as a substitute for his debut and was brilliant, setting up one great chance and buring another. James Morrison missed an absolute sitter set up by Lukaku, but the Belgian international would make up for the missed opportunity four minutes later, heading in a Liam Ridgewell cross to seal a 3-0 victory for his side.

You can find updates on the other games across England in our Premier League Week 1 StoryStream. You can read more about the Reds at Liverpool blogs The Liverpool Offside and Anfield Asylum.


Arsenal Vs. Sunderland: Halftime Score 0-0; Match Exactly What You Thought It Would Be

As someone selling you Red Stripe might say: "Football! Hoooooray, football." Except they wouldn't, because they'd be talking about beer. Anyway, Premier League football's back and everyone's happy apart from Arsenal fans, who've lost Robin van Persie and are apparently about to see Alex Song depart as well. Oh, and they're being held at home by Sunderland through half of their opening fixture.

Unsurprisingly, the hosts dominated possession at the Emirates and generated most of the chances. New signing Santi Cazorla tested Simon Mignolet with a long drive early on then shot just wide after great work from Gervinho on the left side of the Sunderland penalty area. Theo Walcott scuffed the ball wide from a corner. Lukas Podolski somehow failed to score when the ball fell to him in the six yard box. Twice.

But it's not all gone Arsenal's way. I mean, duh, it's still 0-0. But they've had to do some defending too -- some awful play by Per Mertesacker, who completely lost the offside line, allowed James McClean through on goal against Wojciech Szczesny. Fortunately for the Gunners, the young winger's first touch was very poor, forcing him out wide and allowing the goalkeeper to make a stop. Szczesny was called into further action when Jack Colback attempted a dangerous low shot from range with the Arsenal midfield nowhere.

In other words, it's been just about what you'd expect from a van Persie-less Arsenal playing against Martin O'Neill's Sunderland. There's still not much defending to speak of and nothing in the way of a cutting edge so far. We'll see if they can improve in the second half.

We'll have live updates in our Premier League Week 1 StoryStream. You can read more about the Gunners at Arsenal blog The Short Fuse, and you can check out Sunderland blog Roker Report for more on the Black Cats.


West Bromwich Albion Vs. Liverpool: Lineups

Joe Allen starts in midfield for Liverpool, with Carroll and Cole on the bench. Romelu Lukaku is on the bench for West Brom, with Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie up front.


Premier League Betting Guide, Week 1: Sneaky West Brom And A Happy Nike

The Premier League is back and so is the gambling that so thankfully accompanies it.


Newcastle Vs. Tottenham 2012: Game Time, TV Schedule, Live Updates And More

Newcastle and Tottenham open their seasons against each other, perhaps previewing the race between the two for a European place


Arsenal Vs. Sunderland 2012: Game Time, TV Schedule, Live Updates And More

In the post-Robin van Persie era, Olivier Giroud will once again be asked to score lots of goals for an understaffed team and guide them into European places without a ton of help.

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