24 August 2003

Aston Villa (0) 0
Liverpool (0) 0

Both Villa and Liverpool are still searching for their first win after a
goalless draw at Villa Park, although both sides could have won. Liverpool's
best chance came early when Harry Kewell blazed wide after Thomas Sorensen
had saved well from El-Hadji Diouf and late on the keeper also did well to
save a firm header from John Arne Riise. Villa's best spell came early in
the second half as keeper Jerzy Dudek made four saves and Juan Pablo Angel
curled a free kick against the post.

Middlesbrough (0) 0
Arsenal (3) 4 (Henry 5, Gilberto 13, Wiltord 22, 60)

Arsenal go level at the top with Man United and Chelsea after destroying
Middlesbrough 4-0 at the Riverside in a masterclass of counter-attacking
football. The game was effectively over after 22 minutes, by which time the
Gunners had scored three times, all from swift breaks after home attacks had
broken down. Thierry Henry tap in the first from close range after Mark
Schwarzer had only parried an effort from Freddie Ljungberg, and eight
minutes later, Robert Pires crossed from the left for Gilberto to crash home
a superb volley from fifteen yards. Henry then set up a third as his run and
chip cross from the left was side-footed in by Sylvain Wiltord. Henry was
also marginally off target with a shot and header, whilst Sol Campbell
nodded wide. The fourth Arsenal goal came on the hour as this time Sol
Campbell played in Ljungberg and although the Swede could have shot, he
squared it slightly behind Wiltord, although the Frenchman did manage to
find the net.

23 August 2003

Newcastle (1) 1 (Shearer 26)
Man United (0) 2 (Van Nistelrooy 51, Scholes 59)

Man United came from behind to deservedly win 2-1 at Newcastle in a game
controlled by the visitors for long periods. Despite a fast paced opening,
chances were at a premium with a John O'Shea header forcing Shay Given in a
parried save, whilst at the other end, Titus Bramble was unmarked for the
home side but headed well over, however in a five minute spell, the visitors
felt that vital decisions went against them, as did a goal. They claimed
that Alan Shearer was holding Mikael Silvestre, resulting in the Frenchman
slipping and allowing the home captain to thump home a header from a Laurent
Robert cross, however just minutes earlier at the other end, Ryan Giggs
appeared to be brought down by Andy O'Brien whilst clear on goal, however
play was waved on, denying Man United a free kick on the edge of the area
and saving the Newcastle defender from a red card. Giggs was furious as was
boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who was banished from the dugout for comments heard
by the fourth official. Spurred on by injustice, Man United began the second
half with all guns blazing and turned the game around within fifteen
minutes. Ruud Van Nistelrooy, almost inevitably, grabbed the equaliser,
clipping the ball past Given having been sent through by Roy Keane, although
only minutes earlier, the same pair combined for the Dutchman to miss an
arguably easier chance. Ironically, Paul Scholes then blew a great
opportunity, prodding the ball straight at the keeper from close range,
before he also atoned for the miss with a goal. Keane again was the provider
as his cross from the right beat everyone, allowing Scholes to chest the
ball over the line from two yards.

Bolton (2) 2 (Djorkaeff (pen) 3, Davies 25)
Blackburn (0) 2 (Jansen 50, Yorke 90)
RED CARD : Reid (Blackburn) 88

Bolton's Achilles heel emerged again as they conceded a late goal which
earned ten man Blackburn a point, having been two goals down early on. The
hosts took the lead when Youri Djorkaeff converted a penalty after Jay-Jay
Okocha had been tugged back by Lucas Neill and the Frenchman was also
involved in the second goal, providing the through ball for Kevin Davies to
score against his former club. Rovers' comeback began early in the second
half when Matt Jansen fired home first time after David Thompson provided
the cross, however as time drifted away, they were reduced to ten men when
debutant Steven Reid was red carded for a fierce tackle on Stelios
Giannakopoulos. Against the odds, the equaliser arrived with almost the last
kick - or header to be precise - as Dwight Yorke converted a Corrado Grabbi

Chelsea (2) 2 (Nalis (og) 3, Mutu 45)
Leicester (1) 1 (Scowcroft 40)
RED CARDS : Geremi (Chelsea) 67, Rogers 84, Scimeca 88 (Both Leicester)

Adrian Mutu scored a superb debut winner for the Chelsea all-stars against
Leicester in a game marred by three red cards. The goals all came before
half time, although Chelsea's opener was a gift as another debutant, Lilian
Nalis, nodded a Juan Veron corner into his own net. The visitors levelled
matters when Muzzy Izzet's free kick was met at the far post by the head of
James Scowcroft and looped across goal and in. On the stroke of half time,
Mutu struck a 25 yard free kick into the wall and then crashed the rebound
into the bottom corner before Leicester had a chance to react. The second
half was a tale of red cards, beginning with Geremi who was shown a straight
red for a two footed tackle on Ricardo Scimeca which was ruled as dnagerous,
even though the ball was won. Scimeca was one of two visiting players to
finish the game early as he was shown a second yellow for a tackle on Joe
Cole, joining team mate Alan Rogers in the early bath, who, four minutes
earlier, had kicked Jesper Gronkjaer having pushed him to the ground.

Everton (3) 3 (Naysmith 7, Unsworth 20, Watson 35)
Fulham (0) 1 (Hayles 69)

Three unlikely goalscorers gave Everton a comfortable win against Fulham in
a game which was won by half time. Gary Naysmith drilled home the opener
from the edge of the area after Wayne Rooney's shot was blocked and then
David Unsworth doubled the lead having been found by Mark Pembridge. Steve
Watson, deadly from two yards, tapped in a Rooney cross to make it three and
although Barry Hayles pulled one back with a shot on the turn from close
range, it was never going to be enough.

Man City (0) 1 (Sommeil 90)
Portsmouth (1) 1 (Yakubu 24)

A stoppage time goal gave Man City a point against Portsmouth in their first
Premiership game at their new City of Manchester Stadium. Nigerian star
Yakubu gave the visitors the lead when he was put through by a De Zeeuw
header, rounded David Seaman and scored with a clinical shot. They held the
lead until the final minute when David Sommeil thumped in a header from a
cross by Michael Tarant.

Southampton (0) 0
Birmingham (0) 0

Goalless at St Mary's, although not for the want of trying as both clubs hit
the woodwork. Saints best chance came early when James Beattie thumped a
volley against the bar, however Birmingham came as close when Stephen
Clemence scrmabled an effort against the post. The visitors almost snatched
the win late on when Clinton Morrison burst through only for keeper Paul
Jones to save well.

Spurs (1) 2 (Taricco 41, Kanoute 71)
Leeds United (1) 1 (Smith 5)

Leeds lost a lead for the second game in a row having scored early on
against Spurs. Alan Smith gave the visitors the ideal start with a fierce
long range effort into the bottom corner, however he was outdone just before
half time when Mauricio Taricco ran from the half way line and then cracked
an effort into the roof of the net from the edge of the area. Sub Freddie
Kanoute came on for his debut in the second half and promptly netted a
quality winner, turning and volleying crisply home after Leeds failed to
clear a Stephen Carr free kick.

Wolves (0) 0
Charlton (4) 4 (Euell 6, Jensen 15, Bartlett 25, 33)

Wolves' nightmare start continued as their home Premiership debut saw them
four goals down after just over half an hour. Jason Euell began the rout for
Charlton, helped hugely by an awful back header by Colin Cameron, enabling
him to nip past keeper Michael Oakes and tap in. Claus Jensen doubled the
lead with a lovely curling free kick from 25 yards and the rest was down to
Shaun Bartlett who added two more in the space of eight minutes. Firstly,
the South African side footed in after being found by Scott Parker and the
same pair then combined again for Bartlett to race clear and fire in at the
near post. Parker blotted his copybook in the second half, earning a red
card for a late tackle on Kevin Cooper, although even Wolves boss Dave Jones
felt it was harsh and admitted he would back any appeal from Charlton.

Gary Dowden
Chief Editor SoccerAge UK

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