15 August 2004

Everton (0) 1 (Carsley 64)
Arsenal (2) 4 (Bergkamp 23, Reyes 39, Ljungberg 54, Pires 82)

Arsenal begin their defence of the title with a crushing win at Goodison as
Everton were swept aside. Arsenal's speed and power on the break was evident
in the opening goal as Thierry Henry found Jose Antonio Reyes in midfield.
The Spaniard then made good ground to the penalty area where he was tackled
and after the loose ball fell to Henry, he found Dennis Bergkamp who had
time to take a touch before drilling the ball low into the net. The lead was
doubled when Freddie Ljungberg crossed from the left and an unmarked Reyes
thumped home a header from eight yards. Early in the second half, Henry
again found space and his cross from the right was bundled in at the near
post by Ljungberg, although Everton did gain brief hope ten minutes later
when Thomas Gravesen's neat lob was latched onto by Lee Carsley who rounded
Jens Lehmann before tapping into an empty net. Ultimately it was false hope
though as the victory was confirmed late on when Henry's shot was spilled by
Nigel Martyn and after Ashley Cole smacked the rebound against the bar,
Robert Pires was on hand to volley in from close range. Arsenal are now just
one game away from equalling Nottm Forest's record from 1977 and 1978 when
they went 42 successive league games unbeaten.

Chelsea (1) 1 (Gudjohnsen 15)
Man United (0) 0

Chelsea began the Jose Mourinho era with a narrow win over rivals Man United
in a game which rarely lived up to it's top billing. With all the new
arrivals at Stamford Bridge since the billions of Roman Abramovic entered
the equation, it was ironic that the only goal came from a post-Roman player
in the shape of Eidur Gudjohnsen. It was made by Geremi who took advantage
of a misjuded bounce by Quinton Fortune to break clear. His cross was nodded
on by Didier Drogba for Gudjohnsen to lob the ball over Tim Howard and
bundle over the line. United had plenty of possesion but the lack of quality
strikers showed as they failed to make any major impact against the Chelsea

14 August 2004

Spurs (0) 1 (Defoe 70)
Liverpool (1) 1 (Cisse 38)

Djibil Cisse scored on his Liverpool debut to kick off the new Premiership
season, however new boss Rafael Benitez will have to wait for his first
victory as Spurs earned a second half draw. Cisse struck just before half
time with a sweeping finish after Steve Finnan's cross was nodded on by
Jamie Carragher. Liverpool eased off a little after the break, allowing
Spurs back in the game and their new boss, Jaques Santini, was rewarded with
an equaliser when a long ball was flicked on by Fredi Kanoute and after
controlling the ball well, Jermain Defoe turned and fired the ball inside
the near post.

Aston Villa (2) 2 (Vassell 12, Cole 34)
Southampton (0) 0

Aston Villa recorded one of the rare few opening day victories with a
comfortable win against a below par Southampton side. The game was
effectively over by half time as firstly Darius Vassell opened the scoring,
prodding in from close range following a scramble after Lee Hendrie's shot
was blocked and in contrast, Vassell's pass then set up the second for new
signing Carlton Cole, whose sweet volley with the outside of the boot was an
opening day highlight.

Blackburn (0) 1 (Short 70)
West Brom (1) 1 (Clement 33)

Newly promoted West Brom earned a resepctable point at Blackburn and were
only twenty minutes away from winning all three. The visitors took the lead
when Neil Clement's free kick took a strong deflection off of the wall and
bobbled into the bottom corner of the net, however Rovers earned a point
when Jon Stead's cross from the left was met with a diving header by Craig

Bolton (2) 4 (Okocha 11, 59, Pedersen 30, 72)
Charlton (0) 1 (Lisbie 67)

Bolton roared to the top of the embryonic Premiership table with a crushing
win over a poor Charlton side. Jay-Jay Okocha failed to score at all in the
league last season, yet within eleven minutes of 2004-5 kicking off he was
on the mark with a stunning 30 yard free kick on the left which ripped into
the top corner of the net. He then set up Henrik Pedersen with a superb
through ball, the striker finishing well at the near post. Okocha further
celebrated his 31st birthday by adding the third as he collected a pass from
Ricardo Gardner and drilled home a firm shot from the edge of the area.
Charlton pulled one back when Kevin Lisbie headed in Danny Murphy's corner,
however within five minutes, Bolton added a fourth when a long crossfield
ball from Gary Speed found Pedersen who cut inside before finishing well.

Man City (1) 1 (Fowler 28)
Fulham (0) 1 (John 56)

All square at the City of Manchester Stadium as Man City proved that what
they did last season is just as easy to do again as they dominated the game
but failed to clinch victory. It began well when a long throw was nodded on
by Antione Sibierski for Robbie Fowler to hook an overhead effort which
looped into the top corner, however in the second half, Fulham equalised
when Claus Jensen's cross was controlled and finished well by Collins John.

Norwich (1) 1 (Huckerby 16)
Crystal Palace (0) 1 (Johnson 73)

The other two newly promoted clubs battled out a predictable draw at Carrow
Road as Crystal Palace came from behind against Norwich. The hosts took the
lead when Mathias Svensson's pass sent Darren Huckerby away and as he cut
into the area, he unleashed a superb shot across goal and inside the far
post. Palace levelled matters when Wayne Routledge's chipped pass was
collected by Andy Johnson who finished well with a clipped effort.

Portsmouth (1) 1 (Unsworth (pen) 16)
Birmingham (1) 1 (Savage 10)

Level also at Fratton Park as two early goals shared the points between
Portsmouth and Birmingham. The visitors took an early lead when Robbie
Savage fired in a free kick from the edge of the area which found the net
via the hands of keeper Shaka Hislop. The lead lasted six minutes before
Steve Stone was pushed in the area by Stan Lazaridis, allowing debutant
David Unsworth to thump in the penalty.

Middlesbrough (0) 2 (Downing 73, Hasselbaink 90)
Newcastle (1) 2 (Bellamy 14, Shearer (pen) 83)

A controversial debut goal from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink earned Middesbrough
a draw after twice coming from behind at home to North-East rivals
Newcastle. The visitors took an early lead when Aaron Hughes' hopeful
through ball was missed by Chris Riggott, allowing Craig Bellamy to nip in,
round the keeper and slot into the empty net. It remained the only goal
until seventeen minutes from time when Boro deservedly levelled matters. Sub
Stuart Downing finding the net with a crisp far post shot after
Hasselbaink's low cross had evaded the visiting defence. Ten minutes later,
Newcastle regained the lead when Shola Ameobi was tripped in the area by
Boudewijn Zenden and Alan Shearer crashed home the penalty to mark his 500th
top flight game. It appeared to be the winner until Hasselbaink scored in
stoppage time, however not only did Gaizka Mendieta look offside at the near
post from Zenden's cross, but Hasselbaink's apparent diving header seemed to
go in off of his hand or shoulder according to replays. Honours even though
and an entertaining match.

Gary Dowden
Chief Editor SoccerAge UK

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