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As a team, Manchester City were absolutely brilliant on Monday night as they defeated Swansea City by a final score of 4-0. Until at least the 68th minute, if not until stoppage time, David Silva was the clear man of the match as he put in a fantastic performance. However, the story tomorrow morning will be about one man and one man only: Sergio Aguero.
Just eight minutes after coming on for his debut, the Argentinian international superstar netted his first goal in a Manchester City shirt, a tap-in off of a Micah Richards cross. Three minutes later, he provided an assist to Silva with a backwards chip over his own shoulder as he just barely kept the ball from going over the endline. And then, the real gem. In second half stoppage time, Aguero completed his brace with a brilliant 30 yard strike, cementing his legend after just 30 minutes on the pitch.
The 4-0 result is extraordinarily harsh on Swansea debutante goalkeeper Michel Vorm, who was stunning in goal for his team. He made 11 saves on the night, which is more saves than any goalkeeper made in any Premier League game last season. City had 15 shots on target and hit the woodwork on two other occasions. They were unquestionably brilliant, and had a replacement level goalkeeper been between the sticks, they might have scored eight or nine times.
Now, the hype machine will be rolling, both on Sergio Aguero personally and on City's title chase. Swansea look like they'll be on the other end of the table, and they will have to deal with questions about whether or not they can avoid the drop all season long.
Well, how's that for a start to his Manchester City career? In a matter of minutes, Sergio Aguero has netted a goal and provided a great assist on his debut, helping the Citizens to an absolutely insurmountable 3-0 lead that might get larger before the match ends. The addition of Aguero into the game by Roberto Mancini has been an absolute masterstroke - though it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Aguero might help a team score goals - and the Citizens are absolutely destroying their opposition at the moment.
The second goal of the game, Aguero's goal, came in the 68th minute. Micah Richards provided the assist, putting in a great low cross for Aguero to tap in at the back post. The third goal came just three minutes later, as Aguero chased a ball to the endline and flicked it back over his head towards the penalty spot. David Silva was waiting and finished calmly, giving his team a 3-0 lead.
After a decent first half from Swansea, it's all falling apart. City just have way too much quality for the Swans and it's all easy right now.
Finally, after 57 minutes of absolutely battering the goal of Michel Vorm, Manchester City have finally broken down the door and put a goal into the back of Swansea City's net, taking a 1-0 lead. Based on the way City have played so far, Swansea fans will probably fear that the floodgates could open now. Only Vorm's brilliance is keeping Swansea in the game, and Edin Dzeko's goal was a mere inevitability.
The chance was mostly created by David Silva, who has been the man of the match thus far. Picking up the ball at the halfway line, Silva made a great 35 yard run through the center of the pitch before laying off the ball to Adam Johnson on the right wing. Cutting onto his left foot, Johnson fired a shot on goal and Vorm made an absolutely brilliant save. However, Dzeko was there to tap in the rebound and there was nothing that Vorm could do to prevent the goal.
Shortly afterwards, a visibly limping Nigel De Jong was substituted off for Sergio Aguero, who is now making his Manchester City debut. Swansea have made two substitutions of their own, bringing in Joe Allen and Wayne Routledge for Stephen Dobbie and Leon Britton.
Manchester City have put on a show in the opening 45 minutes of their matchup against Swansea City, but the Premier League debutantes are somehow hanging with their hosts on the road. Though City have done a great job getting the ball into the Swansea box and creating scoring opportunities, they have yet to score a goal. Meanwhile, Swansea are defending well and have actually held a majority of the possession. The score is 0-0 and City have looked the more likely team to score, but Swansea are holding their own and the game could still go either way.
David Silva has been downright brilliant for City, creating their two best scoring opportunities. Really, he's unlucky that he doesn't yet have a brace. The first chance came in the 24th minute after a short corner, but Silva had his shot saved brilliantly by Michel Vorm, who is having a great debut thus far. Six minutes later, Silva managed to beat Vorm easily, but his shot clanked off the underside of the crossbar and away, somehow avoiding the back of the net.
Edin Dzeko had a chance of his own in first half stoppage time, but his low shot from 12 yards out was stopped by Vorm, who has made six saves in the first half. Gareth Barry had a couple as well, but his first attempt was attempted and a later attempt just before the halftime whistle smacked off the crossbar.
A quick glance at the two benches shows that City are, unsurprisingly, the team who is more able to change the game with their substitutions. Swansea have some decent attacking options in Leroy Lita, Luke Moore and Wayne Routledge, but none have proven that they are more than good Championship or fringe Premier League players. Meanwhile, City can introduce Mario Balotelli or Sergio Aguero whenever they please.
Swansea City are set to make their debut for this spell in the top flight Monday evening, but the scheduling gods were not kind to them. They start their campaign away to Manchester City at Eastlands, and they will be heavy underdogs. So loaded are the home side that they have left Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli, two undoubtedly world class players, on their bench. Swansea don't appear to be intimidated, though, as they've put out an attack-minded lineup that looks like the ones they played in the Championship.
Swansea City Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Caulker, Tate; Britton, Agustien; Sinclair, Dobbie, Dyer; Graham
Manchester City Lineup (4-3-3): Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy; De Jong, Barry, Y. Toure; Silva, Dzeko, Johnson
The game kicks off at 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm BST and can be seen on both ESPN2 and ESPN3.com in the USA. Stick with this StoryStream throughout the game, as we'll be providing live coverage with halftime and post-game wrap-ups and analysis.
The game finishes 2-1 to Manchester United at the Hawthorns, as Steven Reid turned the ball into his own net late on. There was little blame for the defender, however, with little else he could do after a fine penetrating run from Ashley Young, whose ball into the box proved too difficult for the West Brom defence to deal with.
It was a deserved win for Manchester United, who started the game extremely strongly, Rooney and Ashley Young linking up superbly early on before the former turned and clipped a low shot into the bottom corner of the West Brom goal. Nani was presented with two opportunities to make it 2-0 to the Red Devils, but both were squandered as he failed to convert two close-range chances.
Soon afterwards, a speculative low drive by Shane Long from an acute angle surprisingly squirmed under David De Gea’s dive – ensuring yet more scrutiny of the Spanish keeper, who has not enjoyed the best of starts so far at Manchester United since signing from Atletico Madrid. He showed further signs of nerviness throughout the half, with West Brom ending on top as they took advantage of some hesitancy and uncertainty in the Manchester United defence.
After half-time, it was a more even contest, with both sides enjoying good spells but failing to create any clear chances. Chris Brunt was superb for the home side, providing some dangerous crosses and also tracking back superbly to deny Fabio and Ashley Young’s forays into the West Brom area.
There was more worry for Manchester United when defensive duo Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were both withdrawn, to be replaced by Jonny Evans and Phil Jones. However, both defenders provided important blocks and interceptions to keep West Brom at bay.
And in the end, it was Ashley Young who stepped up for United, turning Chris Brunt inside out before driving into the area and sending in a dangerous cross which Steven Reid turned in to give Manchester United a late winner. Seemingly, no matter how many players change, some things always remain the same.
What's the best way to make a Manchester United debut? How about scoring the game-winning goal. That is a pretty memorable way to start off your Red Devils career and it is what Ashley Young may have today. The winger signed from Aston Villa has netted, with the help of a deflection, in the 81st minute to put United in front, 2-1. It came with the Red Devils looking less and less likely to win as West Brom was gaining traction in the match, but no matter. Young has himself a game-winner if the score holds.
Young had the ball on the left and started to cut in before quickly turning for the end line. He beat the defender cleanly and had his way towards goal from a sharp angle. Young hit the ball across, maybe a shot, but more likely a cross. It caught a bit of a deflection the found the side netting. It is possible that it is later overturned and ruled an own goal, but Young had no problem claiming it. He ran in front of the United supporters and threw his arms in the air, basking in the adoration of his new fans.
The Manchester United central defenders are going down like flies. Nemanja Vidic has already been replaced with an injury after he signaled to come off and limped his way to the bench. Now Rio Ferdinand has done the same. The defender limped around as West Brom attacked and as soon as the ball was out of touch he limped his way to the bench, while Phil Jones came running in. What was a Vidic and Ferdinand pairing to start the match is now a Jonny Evans and Jones pairing.
This is especially concerning for Sir Alex Ferguson after it was confirmed that Rafael would miss 10 weeks because of a dislocating shoulder suffered during training. If Ferdinand and Vidic are out for any time at all, United will be without three of their four first choice defenders. Of course, we have no idea about the length Ferdinand and Vidic will be out yet. All we know is they asked out then limped off, but it has to be a concern right now.
There were and maybe still are questions as to whether Dimitar Berbatov will be with Manchester United at the end of August, but he's still with the team now and he's on the pitch too. The Bulgarian has come on for Danny Welbeck in the 64th minute as the Red Devils search for a game-winner. Welbeck had a bright preseason, but didn't do much in this contest and Berbatov should give the visitors more than what they were getting from the youngster.
United have had no problem drawing free kicks and getting corner kicks, but nothing has come of them. They haven't been able to use Welbeck's pace to stretch the West Brom back line either so they will need another way through. Berbatov's sublime skill could be the answer here. It will certainly give the Red Devils more of a presence on the right side of the pitch. Wayne Rooney has spent most of the time on the left so he could play with the lively Ashley Young, but the right side has been quiet. Berbatov and Nani may be able to open up that channel.
Ashley Young just barely clips Shane Long, who goes down and Young goes over to offer him a hand. There is nothing malicious in the tackle, nor is there anything overly dangerous, yet the referee sees fit to show him a yellow card. Just a minute later Tom Cleverley is running onto a good ball in the attacking third and James Morrison just clips his heels. Again, nothing malicious or dangerous, but it did stop Cleverley from racing in, which is more than could have been said for Long. Somehow, the referee decides not to give Morrison a card. Apparently this one is not like the other?
Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't figure out why Young got a card while Morrison didn't, but it's too early in the season to get upset and berate the fourth official. Instead he just had a bit of a chuckle. He won't be chuckling much if United cannot win today though, something that looks more and more possible the longer this match stays 1-1.
Manchester United have not been able to push ahead of West Brom, instead being stuck in a 1-1 draw. Now they will have to find a way ahead without their captain Nemanja Vidic, who has been removed in the 52nd minute because of an injury. Jonny Evans is in for the central defender in a major blow to the Red Devils. The injury doesn't appear to be overly serious, but any injury to the man who has been their best player for a couple years is a scare to United.
It looked like Vidic might come off just 20 minutes into the match. He came up with a bit of a limp and Evans got off the bench quickly to warm up. He warmed up quickly, leading many to believe that he could be coming on at any moment, but Vidic stayed in and Evans sat back down. Finally after being asked to chase a loose ball down and clear it away, Vidic looked to the sideline and asked to come off.
It was not clear exactly what Vidic injured. He was limping as he came off, but he didn't hold any part of his body to give the location of the injury away. His playing a half hour since the injury was first evident and coming back out after halftime would indicate that the injury is not very serious, but that is nothing more than speculation.
It’s West Brom 1-1 Manchester United in the midlands, as Shane Long scored on his debut, cancelling out Wayne Rooney’s opener to equalise for the Baggies, with David De Gea unable to keep out the Irishman’s low drive.
The young Spaniard looked very shaky towards the end of the half, and after being too slow to react to Long’s shot, he then struggled with a routine cross from Chris Brunt before letting the Northern Irishman shoot at goal shortly afterwards.
United had started extremely strongly, with Wayne Rooney scoring the opener after his deft touch released Ashley Young down the left wing, and he collected the return to turn and slide a precise shot into Ben Foster’s bottom corner. Afterwards, United continued to dominate, with Nani guilty of squandering a great chance to double United’s advantage, casually curling over the bar from close range.
Indeed, the Portuguese winger was presented with a chance to make amends, but was again wasteful as he volleyed over the bar from close range with Baggies’ keeper Ben Foster stranded.
Overall, United have been by far the more creative side, but West Brom may take advantage of De Gea’s nerviness, particularly if it proves contagious among United’s back four.
Just after making his first save for Manchester United, and a fine one at that, David de Gea is back under the microscope after allowing a soft goal that has this match level at one. Soft goal or not, West Brom will not complain as they have tied United 1-1 at the Hawthorns thanks to new signing Shane Long. The former Reading man cut in from the left and hit a decent, but no especially hard shot towards the far post. It was on the ground and the defender may have blocked de Gea's view a bit, but he reacted very slowly as the ball crept in the new for the equalizer.
There were concerns about de Gea coming into the season, especially after a shaky performance in the Community Shield. His tremendous play for Atletico Madrid had been ignored by most as they preferred to focus on his age, being just 20 years old. His poor play on Long's goal will not help his case though as the Baggies have put this match back on level terms.
All eyes are going to be on David de Gea. When you're a 20-year-old and the new goalkeeper for Manchester United, that is going to be the case and a poor play in the Community Shield that gave Manchester City a goal did not inspire confidence. In his first Premier League test though, de Gea was up to the task. He denied Paul Scharner with a fine save to keep United in front, 1-0.
The play was created by Shane Long, who played Scharner in. If de Gea is lacking in confidence, he didn't show it in charging of of his line to close down the angle. Scharner got a goot shot away, firing it high, but de Gea got a hand to it and saved it well to deny the Baggies. It's only one save, but de Gea looked just like the keeper who played exceptionally for Atletico Madrid, which has to be a smile on the face of every United supporter.
Not even a half hour into the new season, Nani has already developed a bad habit of going over the bar. Okay, that's harsh considering he's done it twice, but despite their dominance, Manchester United lead just 1-0 so Nani will have liked to have doubled that lead with his chances thus far.
Nani's most recent chances came off of a corner kick. With Danny Welbeck standing in front of Ben Foster, the Baggies' keeper couldn't get much of a punch on the ball, instead just knocking it down for Nani, 12 yards from goal. The ball bounced up waist high so it was a difficult shot for Nani, but one he had a go at and will probably admit he could have done better with. He smacked it just over the bar and the chance went for nothing. This comes just minutes after he had a much easier chance when he was fed by Wayne Rooney, only to clear the bar by 10 yards.
Manchester United are knocking the ball around beautifully and it should have been rewarded with a second goal. The Red Devils' beautiful interplay reached its peak in a beautiful move that began with Tom Cleverley around the half way line. The ball got to Nani, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck and they all played quickly with one or two touches all the way down the field. In the end, Rooney played Welbeck in, Welbeck played it back to Rooney and Rooney fed Nani, who was unmarked near the penalty spot, but Nani wasted it by putting the shot well over the bar. A beautiful move undone by a sloppy finish.
Sloppy finish or not, United have themselves a lead and are in complete control. With 70 minutes left to play, West Brom can undoubtedly find a way back, but they've known no signs of doing so yet. This is all Red Devils and it would be fair to say that United are more likely to score two more than the Baggies are to get one.
When in doubt, close Wayne Rooney down. More accurately, always close Wayne Rooney down. Ben Foster is still waiting for his defense to close down the Manchester United hitman so it is no surprise that the goalkeeper was found picking the ball out of his own net. The Red Devils have begun their title defense with a goal by Rooney, a fitting start to what they hope will be a second consecutive English Premier League title.
The goal came in the 13th minute as Rooney and Ashley Young combined to unlock a porous West Brom defense. Rooney spotted Young wide on the left and opened up the play by getting the ball to United's new signing. The winger may have been offside as replays proved inconclusive, but the flag stayed down. Young carried the ball down the left before giving it back to Rooney at the edge of the box, where the striker took a couple touches to settle. With Gabriel Tamas inexplicably refusing to close down space, Rooney was able to turn and hit the ball with his left foot low and to the far post for the first goal of the match.
The first five minutes of the match have been all Manchester United. Two dangerous set pieces almost resulted in goals and you would be forgiven if you could not remember West Brom even touching the ball. Fabio gave the Baggies a chance though when he got beaten by Comen Tchoyi, then took the Cameroonian down just two yards from the edge of the penalty box.
The Red Devils were able to clear the free kick, but it was shaky defending from Fabio and he has yet to inspire much confidence off on the flank. Meanwhile, West Brom may have found their channel of preference as they look to exploit Fabio with the strong and fast Tchoyi. As teams have learned the last few years, going through the center is not advisable with Nemanja Vidic waiting there so teams need to find other ways to goal. Fabio may be that way through.
It didn't even take two minutes for Manchester United to first threaten the West Brom goal. Ashley Young got the first real touch of his United career in and his attempted cross was deflected out for a corner. The corner was hit right in front of the goal where Ben Foster just waved at it. The ball fell right in front of the goal and would have certainly resulted in a goal for the Red Devils if anyone could have gotten a foot to it. Instead it bounced twice before West Brom were able to boot it away.
United came right back though and once again it was through Young. The new United signing drew a foul on the left, just yards from the end line. He took the free kick and it was perfectly hit, but Danny Welbeck missed the header and it went across. The youngster should have done better and with Foster lost, all it would have taken is a simple nod to put United in front.
Manchester United head to the Hawthorns in the second Premier League match today, as they take on a West Brom side that was rejuvenated under Roy Hodgson last year.
West Brom: Foster, Reid, Tamas, Olsson, Shorey, Brunt, Scharner, Mulumbu, Morrison, Tchoyi, Long. Bench: Cox, Dorrans, Jara, Thorne, Fortuné, Dawson, Fulop.
Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Fabio; Nani, Anderson, Cleverley, Young; Rooney, Welbeck. Bench: Lindegaard, Jones, Evans, Berbatov, Giggs, Park, Carrick
Interesting for United as Chris Smalling starts at right-back, and Fabio, Cleverley, and Welbeck also come in for a very youthful side. In addition, Anderson in midfield means this is a very attack-minded, pacy United team.
West Brom give a start to £7m signing Shane Long, who joined from reading this transfer window. Peter Odemwingie, the Baggies’ top scorer last season, and Graham Dorrans miss out.
Stay tuned to this thread for live coverage of the game.
It finished goalless at the Britannia Stadium as Stoke City held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw. Stoke were the better side in the first half of a relatively open match, with Chelsea growing into the game as it went on, but both sides were unable to break the deadlock, with both defences comfortably on top.
Fernando Torres and Ramires were the bright sparks for Chelsea, providing most of their creativity, but even after Drogba was brought on, Chelsea looked unable to force a clear chance. Anelka and Kalou went close, the former having a shot tipped onto the bar by the excellent Asmir Begovic, and the latter wasting Chelsea’s best chance of the game by nodding a header straight to the Bosnian goalkeeper.
Stoke had plenty of opportunities to attack Chelsea with set-pieces, but they were well dealt with by the Chelsea defence and Petr Cech. A tough start for Andre Villas-Boas, but far from a disaster. The Portuguese boss may have something to say about the number of penalty shouts Chelsea had, however, with several in the second half being waved away. None of them were clear-cut, but Stoke were lucky to escape when Frank Lampard went down over Marc Wilson’s outstretched leg.
Tony Pulis, on the other hand, will be pleased with his side’s display. There’s probably more to come from both of these teams – further investment is expected from both teams, and the next time these two meet at Stamford Bridge, we could see two very different sides. All in all, a fair result – better for the Potters than the Blues, but Villas-Boas will not be too worried at this stage.
Stoke make another chance, abandoning the long-throw gambit by withdrawing bionic human trebuchet-impersonator Rory Delap in favour of former Manchester United man Danny Pugh.
It’s all Chelsea at the moment though – first Anelka’s floated shot required Begovic to tip it onto the bar, and then Kalou missed a glorious chance as Torres floated in a fine ball, only for the Ivorian to nod straight at Begovic. Could still go either way, but Chelsea have taken control of this game now, and are very much on top. Didier Drogba is coming on – Salomon Kalou, one of the only Chelsea players to provide any penetration, is off. Torres has provided a spark for Chelsea, but hasn’t looked like scoring.
Still a chance for Stoke though – but they need to step up their game now, as they’ve been fading badly as the second half has gone on. 15 minutes plus added time left to play.
Bad news for Stoke as Matthew Etherington has been forced off with what looks like a dislocated shoulder – could be out for some time with that one, a huge loss to Stoke. Dean Whitehead replaces him.
Chelsea have also made a change, with Florent Malouda coming off for Nicolas Anelka. Chelsea have improved in this half, and had a number of penalty shouts – none of them have been clear-cut, but it’s a surprise to see them all waved away.
Stoke have had a few opportunities, though – as expected, making headway down the wings, though overall Chelsea appear to be coping with their attacks. Ramires and Torres, on the other hand, are causing Stoke more and more problems. Chelsea still have Drogba and Benayoun on the bench, who could provide the spark needed to win this game. 30 minutes still to play, and very much an open game which could go either way.
It’s 0-0 at the Britannia, where Stoke City have been on top for the majority of the game so far. Chelsea have struggled to impose themselves on the match, with the Potters subjecting them to an aerial onslaught with a number of throw-ins, corners, and free-kicks. Chelsea have done enough to deal with them so far, thanks to the imposing figure of Petr Cech.
Nonetheless, Andre Villas-Boas will be concerned that Chelsea are failing to control the game. The Blues have been unable to fashion any clear-cut chances, with Stoke asking far more questions of the Chelsea defence. Fernando Torres, who was chosen ahead of Didier Drogba, has looked lively but has struggled to provide any real penetration.
There was a controversial incident when Stoke felt they ought to have had a penalty near the end of the first half, after a bouncing ball in the box rolled off John Terry’s shoulder, but it would have been a harsh call on the Chelsea captain. Shortly afterwards, Stoke had their best chance of the half, as Rory Delap intercepted Alex’s wayward pass and clipped in a fine cross which just evaded Kenwyne Jones.
Tony Pulis will be pleased so far and no doubt demand more of the same from his men, though there are questions here for Villas-Boas. It will be interesting to see if Chelsea can deal with Stoke’s aerial assault for another 45 minutes – particularly without Drogba and Ivanovic to provide additional height in the team.
Chelsea travel to the Britannia stadium this afternoon in a competetive debut for new boss Andre Villas-Boas as they look to pick up their first points of the season.
Stoke: Begovic, Huth, Shawcross, Woodgate, Wilson, Pennant, Delap, Whelan, Etherington, Jones, Walters. Bench: Sorensen, Collins, Pugh, Diao, Whitehead, Wilkinson, Shotton.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Kalou, Torres, Malouda. Bench: Hilario, Ivanovic, Benayoun, Drogba, Ferreira, McEachran, Anelka.
Big decision for Villas-Boas, who opts for Torres ahead of Drogba – a show of faith for the misfiring Spaniard. Kalou surprisingly gets a start, with Anelka and Benayoun also relegated to the bench. Jose Bosingwa also gets the nod ahead of Branislav Ivanovic at right-back.
Stoke line up in a familiar 4-4-2, with Jonathan Walters the only new addition, Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington both starting on the flanks with Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters up front. A statement of intent from the Potters.
Newcastle United and Arsenal played out an awful 0-0 draw at St. James’ Park, with the only entertainment coming courtesy of a contre-temps between Joey Barton and Gervinho, the latter being sent off on his Arsenal debut for delivering a tame slap to the former.
It had been a poor game from the start, with Arsenal suffering from characteristic overcomplication and indecision around the box, and Newcastle unable to gain a foothold in the game. With few clear chances being created at either end, such a result was always likely to occur.
Robin Van Persie was some way short of his best, able to provide neither the clinical finishing nor creative spark that the game sorely demanded, with Gervinho also lively but wasteful.
Newcastle, on the other hand, simply never turned up in a poor game that will do little to calm the mood at either club. Koscielny and Steven Taylor were the standout performers as neither side were able to make any headway towards breaking the deadlock.
Gervinho will now miss Arsenal’s next 3 games – including ones against Liverpool and Manchester United. There may be further repercussions, however, for Alex Song – guilty of a stamp on Barton in the first half, and Barton himself, whose aggro kicked off the scrap that resulted in Gervinho’s red card.
Last season ended with Wolverhampton and Blackburn squaring off in a thrilling 3-2 match with relegation on the line. Both teams stayed up and set the stage for today's season opener and while relegation wasn't on the line this time, it was an incredibly entertaining in the match. Blackburn tallied first, but Wolves came back with two of their own and grabbed three points at Ewood Park to get their season off to a tremendous start.
Junior Hoilett almost put Blackburn in front just four minutes in as his shot looked like it was set to cross the goal. Wayne Hennessey was able to scramble and just barely get a hand to it with a tremendous save to keep the match level though. Blackburn got themselves their goal in the 20th minute though when Jason Roberts spotted Mauro Formica, who was able to sneak one past Hennessey to go in front.
Wolves had a quick answer for Blackburn's tally though. Just two minutes after going down a goal, Wolves equalized through Steven Fletcher. The striker walked through the Blackburn defense to the edge of the six-yard box without anyone marking him so when the cross came in he was able to easily nod the ball home for the equalizer.
It looked like there would be more goals in the first half, but so many chances just missed. Just after half though, a chance was finally converted. Kevin Doyle had a penalty saved, but Stephen Ward came flying in with the rebound to put Wolves in front.
Once Wolves went on top they began to grab control of the match. They were able to keep Blackburn on the back foot and finish things off to give themselves three points in a strong start for a side that hopes to stay out of the relegation battle after just barely escaping the drop a year ago.
It had been a long wait for Queens Park Rangers supporters. They hadn't seen their team in the top flight since 1996 and finally made their way back up for this season, but maybe they wish the wait had been a little longer after the way their opening match went. In front of a lively crowd at Loftus Road, QPR were destroyed by a sharp Bolton Wanderers side, 4-0, and sent their supporters home wondering if their side will still be in the Premier League one year from now.
Things actually didn't get off to a bad start for the Hoops. They were never looked overly dangerous going forward, but they were at least competent at the back and did well to close down space in the midfield. Just before halftime though, things began to go bad. Gary Cahill did the honors in first half injury time with a beautiful strike from 20 yards. The defender looked like he made his living so far up the pitch, squaring to goal and curling a shot right into the upper corner for the first goal of the match.
The second half was an exhibition in quality football from Bolton though. They were calm in the midfield as new signing Nigel Reo-Coker did a fantastic job handling all of the dirty work, allowing the rest of the midfield to get forward and create. That paid off in the 67th minute when a good cross from the left found the foot of Daniel Gabbidon before finding its way over the goal line. No Bolton got player got credit on the own goal, but it was a quality build up that earned them a goal they most definitely deserved.
Just three minutes later, Bolton added to their lead. Ivan Klasnic found a bit of room and let a shot go. It was well struck, but would have probably been saved if it didn't take a deflection on the way to goal. It did take a deflection though and found the back of the net to stretch the Bolton lead to 3-0.
Trailing 3-0, QPR were in shambles. It only got worse when their defense broke down and allowed Klasnic to play Muamba in alone on goal. The Belgian cooly finished and Bolton were embarrassing QPR in their Premier League debut.
The Hoops were dependent on Adel Taarabt for much of their attack last year, but he was shackled by the Bolton defense on this day, once again raising the question if he can cut it at the Premier League level. Without some investment from owners who like to cry poor, QPR may be heading right back down and today's season opener did nothing to calm those fears.
Meanwhile, Bolton looked sharp and Reo-Coker looked to be a very good signing. With Stuart Holden getting closer to a return, Bolton's side should only get stronger as Owen Coyle continues to work his magic. With three points in the bag and four goals in, Bolton are top of the Premier League table for one day at least
Wigan's Ben Watson put the home side ahead from the spot in the 21st minute, converting a penalty won when Franco Di Santo was dragged down inside the area by a badly beaten Ritchie De Laet. The penalty was the apex of an extended opening spell of brisk play from both sides. Things settled down a bit from there with Wigan dominating the majority of the play, but the visitors drew level right on the cusp of half time when Ali Al Habsi fumbled what should have been an easily gathered ball in from Steve Morrison. The ball fell right to the feet of Wesley Hoolahan who finished easily to bring the Canaries level.
The goal was a big blow to Wigan as they headed to the locker room, as they'd really been dominating the proceedings to that point and looked a sure thing to score again. With the equalizer Norwich were able to entrench themselves and succeeded in grinding out the point despite only managing two shots on goal. It was an impressive effort for the Canaries and an excellent way for them to kick off their return to the Premier League. Wigan will be encouraged by the play of Victor Moses who is being called on to replace the departed Charles N'Zogbia; Moses was an absolute nightmare for Norwich down the flank and a return to the form of old will go a long way in helping to keep the Latics safe this season.
Live minute-by-minute coverage as Arsenal travel to St. James Park for their season opener.
Fulham and Aston Villa shared a point apiece after a disappointing 0-0 draw. The game became more open in the second half as Fulham began to put pressure on the Aston Villa defence, but neither Shay Given or Mark Schwarzer would be beaten. I mentioned that Fulham needed to get Damien Duff involved more, and Fulham made me look good by getting him on the ball early in the second half. His cross was flicked on by Andy Johnson, but Bobby Zamora’s shot was superbly saved by Shay Given from point-blank range. Soon, Clint Dempsey’s cutting into the middle paid dividends, but Andy Johnson just couldn’t get onto his through ball.
Aston Villa began to play on the counter attack but surprisingly brought off Charles N’Zogbia for Marc Albrighton. Maybe he thought Albrighton would track back more and cover John Arne Riise, but taking off the ineffectual Agbonlahor may have been a more prudent choice. Martin Jol brought off Bobby Zamora for his almost exact replica, Moussa Dembele, but he didn’t make a difference.
Fulham will be disappointed by the draw, but on another day would’ve won. If they continue to play like that at home, they’ll finish in the top half. A good point for Aston Villa, but some fans must be worried about the lack of creativity in the side.
It finished Liverpool 1-1 Sunderland at Anfield after Sebastian Larsson’s sublime volley cancelled out Luis Suarez’s opener. Liverpool came flying out of the traps, with Luis Suarez winning an early penalty which he subsequently blasted into the stratosphere. He made amends shortly afterwards, glancing home a Charlie Adam cross.
Stewart Downing went close too, going on a penetrating run from the right wing and firing a fierce left-footed shot against Simon Mignolet’s crossbar. But after half-time, Liverpool began to fade badly.
Sunderland had been making progress down the flanks and raining in a number of good-quality crosses, and it was no surprise when their goal came from exactly that, Sebastian Larsson producing a brilliantly-executed volley to put away Ahmen Elmohamaddy’s cross.
What followed was an open, absorbing contest, with the game flowing from end to end. Stephane Sessegnon was lively in midfield but his attempts on goal were poor. As the game wore on, Liverpool became visibly tired and frustrated, and began to give away fouls and possession cheaply, something that will worry Kenny Dalglish.
Nonetheless, he will be pleased that many of his new signings looked to fit in well – but it will be Steve Bruce who goes home the happiest of the two, a good comeback from his side to earn a much-deserved point in one of his most difficult games of the season.
Steve Bruce wisely takes my advice and brings on David Vaughan for Sebastian Larsson. The Welshman should help Sunderland take further control of this game, and it looks like Sunderland are starting to shut up shop here – they’ll be more than happy with this result.
Liverpool, by contrast are getting extremely frustrated here – giving away a lot of fouls, and showing a lack of patience. Ex Manchester United man Wes Brown has been the subject of much of Anfield’s ire as he has taken the opportunity to go down easily under pressure from Liverpool’s attackers. Professionalism or gamesmanship, either way, it appears to be working, and buying Sunderland more precious time to hold out. There’s still plenty of time left for either side to win this one though, and while Sunderland are sitting back, they could easily get an opportunity too – their crossing has been absolutely superb today.
Steve Bruce has made his first change of the day, with Ji Dong-Won coming on for Asamoah Gyan, who has picked up a knock. It’s an odd choice, as Sunderland are raining high-quality crosses into Liverpool’s box and Wickham would seem to be a much more sensible choice to get on the end of them. Ji is not exactly small, but let’s not beat about the bush – Wickham is a mutant.
Liverpool have faded badly in this half – they look to have exhausted themselves with their high-tempo and pressing in the first half, Sunderland are now very much in this game and looking dangerous. Worrying signs for the Reds – they need a change to regain control here. Meireles would seem to be a good choice to me – and Sunderland still have David Vaughan on the bench to counter. This one could go either way. Very open game at Anfield, and the scores are still level at 1-1.
It’s 1-1 now at Anfield – and it’s courtesy of an absolutely superb goal from Sebastian Larsson. Sunderland have been much-improved this half, and have looked particularly dangerous from crosses. Not long after Asamoah Gyan headed a great chance straight at Reina, Ahmen Elmohamaddy takes advantage of Liverpool’s disorganisation on the right flank to send in a beautiful cross. Larsson meets it at the back post with a gloriously precise scissored-volley which curls past Reina and into the far side of the goal. Game on at Anfield.
Liverpool have shown some weaknesses this half – they haven’t defended well on the flanks at all, and with Richardson, Elmohamaddy, and Larsson, they simply cannot afford to let Sunderland put crosses into the box. It looks like Dalglish may be addressing just that – Henderson is removed for Dirk Kuyt, who should help to guard Liverpool’s right flank. First change of the day, and an interesting game developing here.
If anyone expected Alex McLeish to develop his team into a free-flowing expansive side while remaining responsible at the back, they’ll be disappointed. After 45 minutes, Aston Villa have one shot on target: A Emile Heskey half chance, which he flicked at Mark Schwarzer. Collins and Bent have had half chances, but nothing convincing.
However, Fulham have been little better. Riise has looked promising overlapping on the left, allowing Clint Dempsey to have a free role in the middle, and Andy Johnson has been bright. Johnson had a good chance just before halftime, cutting into the box from the left and shooting, but Shay Given was equal to it, parrying the shot behind for a corner.
Villa will be the happier of the two sides, and there is something to say about defensive stability. With Philippe Senderos looking shaky, there may be more chances in the second half for Darren Bent. For Fulham, they need to get Damien Duff more involved; he’s been their biggest threat.
Luis Suarez has given Liverpool a 1-0 lead at half-time at Anfield. After blasting an early penalty miles over the bar, the Uruguayan made amends by glancing home a Charlie Adam free-kick on 12 minutes.
It’s a deserved lead for Liverpool, who have been comfortably the better side. Carroll has been causing problems throughout, Charlie Adam has been spraying passes around, and Stewart Downing has looked dangerous on the wing. Despite their domination, however, Liverpool have been unable to craft many clear-cut chances.
Stewart Downing came closest to doubling Liverpool’s advantage, as he picked up the ball on the right of midfield, cut inside and hit a thunderous strike off the bar. Lucas also came close, with a low drive that just missed Mignolet’s far post.
Sunderland, by contrast, have offered little – Gyan and Sessegnon are looking extremely isolated up front, and their midfield have been unable to get into the game. Aside from a few poor shots from outside the area, the only real chance they have had was from a free-kick which was missed by Gyan, Sessegnon, and Reina alike – a nervy moment for Liverpool, but overall they are in control of this one.
It will be interesting to see how Steve Bruce reacts – Connor Wickham could help them hold the ball up, while David Vaughan could help them take more control in midfield. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see one of those brought on before too long, as Sunderland are being outclassed so far.
12 minutes gone, and Liverpool take the lead at Anfield. A simple goal that will bring fury to Steve Bruce’s eyes – Liverpool won a free kick about 25 yards out on the right, and Charlie Adam swung in a fine delivery for Suarez to glance in at the near post. Well-executed, but poor marking from the Black Cats, particularly Kieran Richardson - not a good start from the former Manchester United man after giving away an early penalty.
So far, Liverpool's new signings are looking good - Jordan Henderson looking very composed, and Charlie Adam spraying passes around as he was last season. It seems that an awful pre-season really does mean nothing - though there's plenty of time for this one to change. Sunderland simply haven't turned up so far, enjoying little possession and looking very shaky at the back indeed. Leaving David Vaughan on the bench could start to look like a big mistake at this rate.
Wow. What a start at Anfield – Luis Suarez takes advantage of some sloppy passing in Sunderland’s defence and charges clean through at the Sunderland goal – Kieran Richardson brings him down in the box and it’s a penalty to Liverpool. Suarez dusted himself off to take it – and blazed it out of the stadium. That was an awful effort.
There was some controversy that Richardson should’ve been sent off, but Suarez had taken the ball to a more acute angle, and Sunderland defenders were racing back. Richardson escaped with a yellow, but that was a very close call.
Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson, and Stewart Downing all start for Liverpool as they take on Sunderland at Anfield. Follow the match here.
A new season will kick off this weekend. Manchester United will probably win.
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