Opening Day in the EPL Springs Many Surprises
A review of the day's games, goals, penalties, red cards - the usual.
Many New Managers Taste Defeat
Saturday saw the opening of the English Premier League for the 2012-13 season and with it came a few surprises.
Maybe the biggest shock of the day was West Bromwich Albion's comprehensive 3-0 won over a lacklustre Liverpool at The Hawthorns. Liverpool's new boss, Brendon Rodgers, was looking to get his new job going in the right direction with the victory but, in reality, his season could not have got off to a worse start. Zoltan Gera gave the Baggies the lead in the 43rd minute but it was a red card for Daniel Agger that really contributed to Liverpool's downfall, despite the resulting penalty being missed. Peter Odemwingie did manege to convert a second spot kick in the 64th minute and Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, added a third to close out the scoring and wrap up the three points for the hosts.
As bad a day as Rodgers was having with Liverpool, his old team were enjoying opening day as Swansea City got off to a flying start banging five goals past Queens Park Rangers without reply on the road. Michu and Nathan Dyer each netted twice with Scott Sinclair also making the scoresheet as new Swans manager, Michael Laudrup, opened his era with his new team.
Another team to find the net five teams was Fulham, who demolished Norwich City 5-0 at Craven Cottage. The club seemed to be ready to run rampant after the Clint Dempsey debacle threatened to derail their opening weekend. Without the American international Fulham were still able to put on a five star display with goals from Mladen Petric (2), Damien Duff, Alex Kacaniklic and Steve Sidwell.
After selling Robin Van Persie to their rivals, Manchester United, Arsenal were looking to secure all three points as they welcomed Sunderland to London. It was not to be. Sunderland looked good value at the back as they worked tirelessly to snuff out Arsenal chances almost as soon as they opened up. The best chance of the match fell to the feet of new signing Olivier Giroud after an excellent reverse pass from Santi Cazorla opened up the Sunderland defence but a snatched shot saw him miss badly from around twelve yards out. Sunderland looked happy to take the point from the 0-0 draw while Arsenal were left to rue the lack of chances they made for having so much more possession.
League newcomers Reading hosted Stoke City and looked to headed towards a first defeat after Michael Kightly gave the visitors the lead in the 34th minute. the Potters looked a good bet to hold that lead as the final whistle loomed but a Dean Whitehead foul on Grath McCleary resulted in a 90th minute penalty, converted by Adam Le Fondre earned the draw.
Troubled Aston Villa visited newly promoted West Ham as they looked to shake the cobwebs from a very nervy end to last season. However, their new manager, Paul Lambert, tasted defeat in his first game in charge as the Hammers took the points thanks to a 40th minute goal from Kevin Nolan to finish off a cross by Ricardo Vaz Te.
In the "nightcap" game we saw two of last season's high flyers as Tottenham Hotspur visited Sports Direct Arena at Newcastle United. Yet another newly hired manager opened his account with a defeat as Andre Villas-Boas failed to unlock the Newcastle defence in the first half despite many opportunites. Newcastle took the lead through Demba Ba after the interval only to see the goal pegged back by a Jermain Defoe strike. Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew, was incensed with the linesman and was sent to the stands after pushing him while arguing a decision. Hatem Ben Arfa's 80th minute penalty proved to be the winner as Newcastle opened with a win and Spurs will have to find more team unity as they push for those coveted top four spots.