Premier League Saturday round-up: United arrive in style as Villa pile misery on Wenger
The 22nd Premier League season kicked off on Saturday and was full of high-class entertainment as reigning champions Manchester United took on Swansea City in the tea-time kick-off. Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa shocked the Emirates whilst David Moyes kicked off his helm at Old Trafford in style.
Liverpool and Stoke started off the proceedings in the early kick-off at Anfield. Both sides had a host of new faces on show and it was the slick passing and movement from Liverpool that helped them to edge a well battled contest. Coutinho, Aspas and Sturridge looked lively for the Merseyside club and it was England International Daniel Sturridge that opened the scoring following a well-placed finish.
Following Sturridge’s 37th minute goal, the flow of the game seemingly followed suit. Liverpool were tidy in their approach play, with Jordan Henderson rattling the post. At 1-0 down, there was always a chance that Stoke could claim their first ever goal at Anfield in the Premier League. That moment came when a handball in the box allowed Jonathan Walters to take aim from the penalty spot. The Irishman stepped-up, only to be foiled by Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal. The Belgian saved the three points for the red side of Merseyside, instantly becoming a cult figure.
Arsenal’s lack of summer spending has certainly been a cause for concern with Arsenal fans and it showed in Saturday’s shock defeat to Aston Villa.
Frenchman Olivier Giroud opened the scoring after just five minutes and it looked likely that the Gunners could run riot on the opening day of the season. Gabriel Agbonlahor had other ideas, with his pace causing chaos in the Arsenal defence.
The former England International skipped through Wenger’s backline and was brought down by Szczesny to give Villa an important penalty. Man of the moment Christian Benteke’s weak effort was saved but he pounced on the rebound to head home.
Arsenal were sloppy in possession and conceded another penalty in the 61st minute which Benteke made no mistake of dispatching. The game was now in Arsenal’s favour and were helped in abundance by the dismissal of Koscielny.
As the Gunners pressed for an equaliser, a smart counter-attack from the Villains allowed left-back Antonio Luna to finely finish to wrap-up a famous three points for a team that are again tipped to struggle.
A brace from Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck ensured that David Moyes would start his career at Manchester United in emphatic fashion. Despite controlling early spells of the game, Swansea were undone by the clinical finishing of the Red Devils. The ever impressive Van Persie scored emphatically to open the scoring in the 34th minute to silence the Liberty Stadium. Just two minutes later, some smart work from Antonio Valencia found Danny Welbeck, who tapped home with ease to make it 2-0.
United would bring on unsettled Wayne Rooney with half-an-hour to play, with the former Everton star setting up two goals as his future remains in the balance. Van Persie’s second was typical of the Dutchman. Gaining on the ball in the final third, the former Gunner unleashed an unstoppable shot past Michel Vorm.
There was still time for debutant Bony to give something for the Swansea fans to cheer about, but the game was put to bed following a delightful chip from Danny Welbeck.
Thomas Bradley, football correspondent
Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 3
Liverpool 1 Stoke City 0
Swansea City 1 Manchester United 4
Sunderland 0 Fulham 1
WBA 0 Southampton 1
Norwich 2 Everton 2
West Ham 2 Cardiff 0