With the World Cup now a distant memory it’s time once again for the Premiership to take centre stage again.
Chelsea began the defence of their title with a 3-0 win over Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. England captain John Terry opened the scoring with a header from Arjen Robben’s free kick and moments later Lampard’s deflected shot from the edge of the area found it’s way past the unfortunate City keeper Nicky Weaver. Didier Drogba added a third late on with a well finished diving header. Manchester City finished the game with 10 men after debutant Bernado Corradi was sent off following a tackle on Essien.
Elsewhere Chelsea’s challangers for the title had mixed fortunes. Manchester United cruised past Fulham and were 4-0 up after 20 minutes thatnks to goals from Saha, Rooney and Ronaldo as well as an own goal from Ian Pearce. Fulham however managed to pull one back before the break as Helguson’s shot took a heavy deflection off of Rio Ferdinand. United maintained the pressure in the second half but only managed to add one more to their tally with Rooney bagging his second. The good news for United fans is that there is no World Cup fall out between Rooney and Ronaldo and the pair played very well together. The bad news is that Rooney now begins his 3 match ban for his sending off in a pre season friendly. There will be much thinking for Fulham manager Chris Coleman to do if his team are to stay out of trouble this season.
Arsenal and Liverpool did not have such luck as they both dropped points in their opening fixtures. It was a big day at the Emirates Stadium as the Gunners looked to christen their new stadium by taking three points from Aston Villa. Villa also had much to look forward to as they began their new era under Martin O’Neill. And it was the boys from Birmingham who were celebrating first as they took a shock lead via a Olof Mellberg goal from a corner. Arsenal managed to equalise late on when Gilberto Silva scored from Theo Walcott’s cross. Not the start to the Emirates era Arsenal fans were hoping for and Villa supporters will be much more satisfied with the 1-1 draw.
Liverpool took on newly promoted Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. The game was level at 0-0 at half time but immediately after the restart the Blades took the lead when some sloppy Liverpool defending allowed Rob Hulse to get on the end of a free kick to head home. Liverpool equalised late on after a very dubious penalty which was won when Steven Gerrard appeared to fall under minimal contact. Robbie Fowler calmly slotted home from the spot to make it 1-1.
There was one winner amongst the new boys. Reading beat Middlesborough 3-2 after an amazing comeback from 2-0 down. Boro took the lead from a Stewert Downing volley and a close range Yakubu effort. But Reading then pulled themselves back into the game with goals from Dave Kitson and wantaway midfielder Steve Sidwell. Substitute Leroy Lita the secured victory for Reading on their Premiership debut by taking advantage of some paniccy defending to score from a few yards out.
Watford can consider themselves unlucky after opponants Everton were given a penalty which shouldn’t have been given. The ball hit Chris Powell on the head but the referee judged that it had hit his arm and blew. Mikel Arteta rammed the ball home. Earlier debutant Andy Johnson slotted home to give Everton a 1-0 lead. Damien Francais pulled one back for the Hornets late on with a deflected shot but by that point the result was a forgone conclusion.
Bolton were victorious at the Reebok winning 2-0 against a Tottenham side who played nowhere near as well as they did last season. Kevin Davis gave Bolton the lead with a close range header but questions will be asked about some shirt tugging by Abdoulaye Meite which stopped Calum Davenport from marking the eventual goalscorer. Ivan Campo also scored with a screamer from 43 yards which curled wickedly past the stretching Paul Robinson. England boss Steve McClaren was in the crowd watching this one.
It was a bad day for Charlton manager Iian Dowie as he lost his first game in charge 3-1 away at West Ham. Charlton took the lead via last seasons top scorer Darren Bent from the penalty spot but the job was made difficult when Djimi Traore saw red for two bookings before the half hour mark. Bobby Zamora used the absence of Dean Ashton to show manager Alan Pardew what he can do, bagging a brace to make it 2-1 to the Hammers before substitute Carlton Cole marked his debut with a goal seconds after arriving on the pitch. Lee Bowyer, back for his second spell with the club was man of the match, setting up all three goals and it was a significant day for the Premiership history books as Teddy Sheringham became the oldest outfield player to appear at this level.
The other games saw Newcastle beating Wigan 2-1 at St James’ Park. New captain Scott Parker opened the scoring before Lee McCulloch curled home an equaliser. Shola Ameobi showed that he might be the solution to Newcastle’s striking crisis by pouncing on a parry from Chris Kirkland in the Wigan goal.
And Portsmouth easily beat Blackburn 3-0 at Fratton Park. Former Arsenal and Nigeria striker Kanu got two on his first game for the club after Svetoslav Todorov had opened the scoring for Pompey. Blackburn didn’t help themselves by having two players red carded; Lucas Neill (two yellows) and defender Todd in the last minute. Judging by this display Portsmouth will have no worries about relegation this season whilst Blackburn will hope to recover to build on last seasons impressive finish.
The next round of games in the Premiership takes place on Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd of August.