14 August 2005

Arsenal (0) 2 (Henry (pen) 81, Van Persie 87)
Newcastle (0) 0
SENT OFF : Jenas (Newcastle) 32

Arsenal left it late to see off a resolute Newcastle side, reduced to
ten men for the best part of an hour. Newcastle's ploy to swamp the
midfield worked to a tee for the opening half an hour as Arsenal failed
to create any clear cut chances, however the tactic took a dent when
Jermaine Jenas was shown a straight red card for a crunching tackle on
Gilberto Silva. It seemed harsh to say the least as the midfielder did
get a chunk of the ball and any injury sustained by Gilberto wasn't
helped by the way his leg twisted under him. Still Arsenal struggled
though, although Kolo Toure did force a good save from Shay Given at the
near post. Ironically, the best chance of the half fell to Alan Shearer
who was put through only to drag his shot across goal and wide. The
second half resembled an 'attack v defence' training exercise for long
spells, but again the hosts struggled to break their opponents down with
only Freddie Ljungberg coming close when his close range clipped effort
was well saved by Given, however ultimately the Swede was involved in
both goals. The first came when he broke into the area and was bundled
over by sub Charles N'Zogbia, the referee having no hesitation in
awarding a penalty. Thierry Henry stepped up and found the bottom
corner, although Given guessed right and got a hand to it. Six minutes
later, a sweeping move culminated with Ljungberg cutting the ball from
the goalline for Robin Van Persie to score at the near post from an
acute angle with a first time shot that clipped the post. All told, not
the free flowing Arsenal we're used to as they equally looked unfamiliar
in their new redcurrant shirts.

Attendance : 38,072
Assists : Ljungberg (won pen), Ljungberg

Wigan (0) 0
Chelsea (0) 1 (Crespo 90(+3))

Hernan Crespo scored a stunning winner in the last minute of stopage
time to break Wigan hearts as the Premiership Champions left it very
late to beat the new arrivals. Wigan more than held their own in the
first half and almost went ahead when Henri Camara'a shot was kept out
by Petr Cech. Chelsea remained patient and late in the half, John Terry
headed inches over whilst Damien Duff cut inside from the right and
forced a superb save from Mike Pollitt as the ball looked to be past
him. Chelsea began the second half well, but chances were still few and
far between although Crespo did have a drilled effort saved. That said,
this was not one sided at all as Wigan felt they had the capacity to
snatch a goal and almost did just that when Damien Francis headed
against the bar. Remarkably, twice in stoppage time, Wigan sub Andreas
Johansson had a sight of goal but was off target and literally seconds
after the latter attempt, Chelsea broke and after Didier Drogba headed
the ball on, Crespo made space on the edge of the area and smashed a
shot into the top corner, giving Pollitt no chance.

Attendance : 23,575
Assist : Drogba

13 August 2005

Here we go again folks. Eight down, 372 to go.

Everton (0) 0
Man United (1) 2 (Van Nistelrooy 43, Rooney 46)

Man United are off and running as they look to regain the Premiership
trophy from London, after a 2-0 win at Everton in the opening Prem game
of the season. United began well as Ruud Van Nistelrooy clipped the ball
with a free kick and then shot inches wide later on. Everton seemed to take
a while to get started, however when they did they were unlucky as Tim
Cahill's header brought a superb reaction save from Edwin Van Der Sar, whilst
sub Marcus Bent, on for the injured James Beattie, also clipped the ball
with a deflected shot. As the pace increased and the tempers got hotter,
United scored the first goal of the game and the season as Wayne Rooney
found John O'Shea overlapping and his firm cross was finished well at the
near post by Van Nistelrooy with a first time effort. Both clubs good penalty
appeals rejected as Mikael Silvestre seemed to handle in the area, whilst
Van Nistelrooy had his shirt pulled by Joseph Yobo, although his exagerated
fall didn't help his cause. The second half was thirty seconds old when the
lead was doubled thansk to a gify from Yobo who, under no pressure at all,
played the ball across his own area and straight into the path of Rooney who
slotted it past Nigel Martyn to silence the fans that used to adore him.
It should have been three when debutant Park Ji-Sung found space in the
area, but found an airshot when it looked easier to score with only the keeper
to beat. The hosts sent on Duncan Ferguson, however it was Cahill who came
close with a header as he was again denied by Van Der Sar at close range
and of all people, Phil Neville also came close with a stinging shot that
fizzed just over as his new club looked, but ultimately failed, to bounce back
against his former.

Attendance : 38,610
Assists : O'Shea, n/a

Aston Villa (2) 2 (Phillips 4, Davis 9)
Bolton (2) 2 (Davies 6, Campo 8)

Aston Villa and Bolton shared the honours at Villa Park in a game that
saw four goals in a remarkable six minute spell, all inside the opening
nine minutes of the game! Villa debutant Kevin Phillips started the fun
when he was left unmarked at the far post to nod in Gavin McCann's cross
after keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen had misjudged the flight. The lead
lasted less than two minutes when Kevin Davies was on hand to bobble a
close range volley in after Rahdi Jaidi had nodded on a long throw. The
home crowd had barely recovered when Bolton were ahead, as a corner from
Gary Speed found Ivan Campo at the far post and his downward header
bounced over Nol Solano on the line and in. Within a minute, it was all
square again as Villa attacked from the kick off and after Kevin
Phillips had hooked the ball across, Steven Davis was at the near post
to volley in first time. The remaining 81 minutes yielded no further
goals, however Bolton did have a header from Kevin Nolan disallowed for
offside, despite replays proving that he was clearly onside.

Assists : Solano, Jaidi, Speed (ck), Phillips
Attendance : 33,263

Fulham (0) 0
Birmingham (0) 0

No goals at Craven Cottage as Fulham and Birmingham began the season
with a clean sheet each. Fulham had the better of things overall and
came close to scoring when Luis Boa Morte was denied twice in a matter
of seconds, firstly when his close range effort was saved and then from
the rebound when his shot was deflected against the bar. Brian McBride
had a second half goal ruled out for offside, however unlike at Villa
Park, the decision was correct.

Attendance : 16,550
Assists : n/a

Manchester City (0) 0
West Brom (0) 0

Stalemate also at The City of Manchester Stadium, although it wasn't for
the want of trying as both keepers - David James and Chris Kirkland -
had excellent games. The visitors had the best chance when Zoltan Gera
somehow headed wide when it looked easier to score. Maybe he was put off
by his club's away kit, a remarkable black shirt with a red and white
thick, diagonal stripe!

Attendance : 42,983
Assists : n/a

Portsmouth (0) 0
Tottenham (1) 2 (Griffin (og) 45, Defoe 64)

I have high hopes for Spurs this season and feel that they'll finish top
six at least and they began well with a comfortable win at Portsmouth,
although they needed a stroke of luck to get started. It arrived on half
time when Ahmed Mido chased a through ball from Jermaine Defoe and as
keeper Sandor Westerveld came off of his line, defender Andy Griffin
prodded the ball away from the Spurs attacked, but also past his own
keeper and into the bottom corner. If the first was lucky, the second
was superb as Defoe was sent clear by Mido and having rounded the
keeper, he finished brilliantly from a tight angle.

Attendance : 20,215
Assists : n/a, Mido

Sunderland (1) 1 (Gray 32)
Charlton (1) 3 (Bent 11, 90, Murphy 64 fk)
SENT OFF : Ambrose (Charlton) 55

Last season's Championship champions began life back in the Prem with a
harsh lesson as they were outplayed and well beaten by ten man Charlton.
The visitors began well and went ahead when Danny Murphy's chip sent
Darren Bent clear and although keeper Kelvin Davis stopped the striker
from going around him, Bent remained composed, found space and drilled
the ball past the defender on the line. Sunderland equalised when a
cross from Andy Welsh was met by Dean Whitehead and although his shot
was saved, debutant Andy Gray, signed from Sheffield United, was first
to the rebound and netted from close range. It appeared to get better
for the new boys when Darren Ambrose was shown a straight red card for a
studs first challenge on Stephen Wright, however within ten minutes, the
ten men were ahead when Murphy curled in a beauty of a free kick from 25
yards. Charlton clinched the points in stoppage time when Bent added his
second with a crisp finish across goal from the edge of the area after
being sent clear from a hoofed clearance by Bryan Hughes.

Attendance : 34,446
Assists : Ambrose, n/a, Bent (won fk), Hughes

West Ham (0) 3 (Sheringham 46, Reo-Coker 62, Etherington 80)
Blackburn (1) 1 (Todd 18)
SENT OFF : Dickov (Blackburn) 81

Play off winners West Ham got off to a sensational start after coming
from behind to beat Blackburn, another club that I reckon will do well
this season. The visitors went ahead in the first half when Andy Todd
found the bottom corner after the home defence failed to clear a Morton
Pedersen corner, however in the second half, it all turned around.
Indeed, within a minute of the restart, the Hammers were level when
evergreen 39-year old Teddy Sheringham found the corner after an
attempted through ball by Yossi Benayoun clipped the heel of the unlucky
Todd. They then went ahead when Matt Etherington found Nigel Reo-Coker
and having found space on the edge of the area, he crashed a stunning
drive into the top corner, giving Brad Friedel no chance and Etherington
later added a third himself after Benayoun again turned supplier to
leave his team mate with a tap in. It was all too much for Blackburn sub
Paul Dickov who, just nine minutes after coming on, was back off with a
straight red card after launching into a two footed tackle on Paul

Attendance : 33,305
Assists : Reid, n/a, Etherington, Benayoun

Middlesbrough (0) 0
Liverpool (0) 0
SENT OFF : Ehiogu (Middlesbrough) 74

Steven Gerrard did everthing but score as his Liverpool side were
frustrated by ten man Middlesbrough in a goalless draw at the Riverside.
The first half was dismally drab with only Gerrard coming close with a
shot over the bar. After the break things improved as the Liverpool
captain had a shot and header off target as well as a header well saved
by Mark Schwarzer. He was also involved in the incident that saw Ugo
Ehoigu miss the latter stages of the game as the home defender brought
Gerrard down as he bore down on goal. He was the last man and an instant
red card was no surprise. Liverpool increased the pressure late on,
although it wasn't helped by sub Djibril Cisse playing on the right
wing, however he did provide a last minute cross for Gerrard to head
powerfully across goal and wide. Not the start that either side wanted,
but Boro will be happier with the point than the European Champions.

Attendance : 31,908
Assists : n/a

Gary Dowden
Chief Editor SoccerAge UK

Gary Dowden - Joint Admin Topica Premier-L list
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