20 August 2006

Chelsea 3 (Terry 11, Lampard 26, Drogba 78)
Manchester City 0

Champions Chelsea got their Prmiership campaign off to a winning start as Man City were swept aside at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea took an early lead in simply fashion when Arjen Robben fizzed in a free kick from the right and John Terry met it first to head home from close range. The lead was doubled when great skill from Michael Essien set up Frank Lampard and his shot from the edge of the area found the net with the help of a deflection. In the second half, City struggled to make any impact and the frustration got the better of debutant Bernardo Corradi who hacked at Essien to earn a second yellow card of the game, although Essien was lucky not to follow him off when he decided to drab Corradi up by his hair! Chelsea took advantage of their numerical supremacy and added a third goal when Wayne Bridge fired a cross in from the left and Didier Drogba dispatched the ball into the net with a stunning near post diving header.

Attendance : 41,953
Assists : Robben (fk), n/a, Bridge

Manchester United 5 (Saha 7, Pearce 15 og, Rooney 16, Ronaldo 19, Rooney 64)
Fulham 1 (Ferdinand 40 og)

Man United started the season with a bang as they walloped Fulham 5-1 at Old Trafford with both Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo on the scoresheet. If anyone had doubts about their title credentials, they were swept aside after the opening twenty minutes by which time United had scored four! Ex-Fulham striker Louis Saha netted the opener with a header from a Ryan Giggs cross and Saha had a hand in the second as his cross was prodded into his own net by Ian Pearce. A minute later, Saha's firm shot was parried by Antti Niemi and Rooney fired in the rebound and then Rooney's deep cross found Ronaldo whose controlled volley at the far post made it 4-0. Paul Scholes then smashed a shot against the post, the ball rebounding back goalwards off of Niemi's head only for the keeper to get up in time to stop a second own goal. Fulham pulled a consolation back before half time when Jimmy Bullard set up Heidar Helguson whose shot took a deflection off of Rio Ferdinand, sporting a new streamlined haircut, and looped over Edwin Van Der Sar into the net. Early in the second half, Michael Brown was lucky to remain on the pitch for a studs first challenge on Ryan Giggs for which he was booked, however within a minute Giggs received the same punishment for a revenge tackle on the same man. Both were subbed by the time Rooney added a fifth, sweeping in Wes Brown's cross. Ronaldo should have added a sixth but shot wide whilst through, however United succeeded in sending out a challenging message to Chelsea.

Attendance : 75,115
Assists : Giggs, n/a, n/a, Rooney, Brown

19 August 2006
Here we go again....

Sheffield United (0) 1 (Hulse 46)
Liverpool (0) 1 (Fowler (pen) 70)

Title hopefuls Liverpool needed a dodgy penalty to come from behind to snatch a point against newly promoted Sheffield United at Bramhall Lane as the 2006-07 Premiership season kicked off today. The first half was fast paced but chances were at a premium as Rob Hulse had a goal disallowed for United for offside whilst Liverpool debutant Fabio Aurelio had a free kick tipped over by Paddy Kenny. Liverpool's cause wasn't helped by ankle injuries to John Arne Riise and Jamie Carragher that saw both limped off before the interval. Within a minute of the restart, the shock was on as the home side went ahead. David Unsworth swung a free kick to the far post where Hulse lost his marker to send a diving header into the net. Sami Hyypia almost equalised straight away when his header hit the post, however it needed a controversial penalty to get Liverpool level as Steven Gerrard burst through the middle and despite being sent off balance by a tackle from Chris Morgan, still got a shot in that Kenny saved, however the official ruled that contact was made by Morgan, something that replays didn't exactly prove, and Robbie Fowler slotted in the resulting penalty. Morgan stayed on the pitch even though he was last man, making an already odd decision all the more strange, especially as he'd previously been booked in the first half! Liverpool failed to make any impact despite that equaliser and rarely looked like grabbing a win as United held on for a well deserved draw.

Attendance : 31,726
Assists : Unsworth (fk), Gerrard (won Pen)

Arsenal (0) 1 (Gilberto 84)
Aston Villa (0) 1 (Mellberg 53)

Arsenal kicked off their new era at the Emirates Stadium and came very close to slumping to defeat against Aston Villa who began well for new boss Martin O'Neill. Villa took the lead early in the second half when an inswinging corner from Steve Davis tempted keeper Jens Jehmann off his line only to be beaten at the near post by Olof Mellberg whose header flew in. Enter 'super-duper wonder-kid who didn't have the chance to set the World Cup alight' Theo Walcott whose appearance seemed to galvanise the Gunners and it was his cross, nodded on by Robin Van Persie, that set up Gilberto Silva at the far post to volley in and save a point for Arsenal.

Attendance : 60,023
Assists : Davis (ck), Van Persie

Everton (1) 2 (Johnson 15, Arteta (pen) 82)
Watford (0) 1 (Francis 90)

Watford's Premiership return ended in narrow defeat as another controversial penalty gifted Everton all three points. The hosts were already ahead after an excellent build up involving James Beattie and Andy Johnson ended with the latter finding the net via a deflection. With eight minutes to go, Everton clinched the win as the officials came up with a dreadful penalty award as a cross from Tim Cahill was blocked by the head of Chris Powell who had slid in to attempt to block the ball. Remarkably the linesman felt that he'd handled it and flagged for a penalty, converted clinically by Mikael Arteta. Watford grabbed a late consolation when Tamas Priskin crossed for Damien Francis to score via the post and one of the most outrageous deflections you'll see all season.

Attendance : 39,691
Assists : n/a, n/a, n/a

Newcastle (1) 2 (Parker 38, Ameobi 64)
Wigan (0) 1 (McCulloch 59)

The post-Shearer era began with a win for Newcastle as last season's surprise package Wigan were beaten at St James. They went ahead just before half time when Shola Ameobi crossed for Scott Parker to send a diving header past the keeper, however Wigan clawed back an equaliser when Emile Heskey's header found Lee McCulloch who controlled the ball well and curled inside the far post. The lead was regained shortly afterwards as Ameobi turned scorer with a tap in after Charles N'Zogbia's stinging shot was fumbled by keeper Chris Kirkland.

Attendance : 51,569
Assists : Ameobi, Heskey, n/a

Portsmouth (1) 3 (Todorov 26, Kanu 62, 84)
Blackburn (0) 0

SENT OFF: Neill (Blackburn) 67, Todd (Blackburn) 90
MISSED PEN: Kanu (Portsmouth) 90

Biggest win of the opening day came for Portsmouth who crushed nine-man Blackburn at Fratton Park. They went ahead through Svetoslav Todorov with a tap in after Benjani had crossed, however it was the arrival of sub Kanu that sparked all the second half excitement. Firstly he doubled the lead with a superb far post header from Sean Davis's cross and then was fouled by Lucas Neill as the Rovers defender saw a second yellow card and subsequent red. The Nigerian then added his second with another far post header, this time after Gary O'Neil turned provider and in stoppage time, he burst through and past keeper Brad Friedel only for Andy Todd to bring him down as he prepared to shoot. Todd was shown a red card for his actions, however Kanu then blew the chance of a hat trick as his penalty was well saved by Friedel.

Attendance : 19,523
Assists : Benjani, Davis, O'Neill

Reading (2) 3 (Kitson 43, Sidwell 44, Lita 55)
Middlesbrough (2) 2 (Downing 11, Yakubu 21)

Reading's first ever Premiership game saw them come from two goals down to beat Middlesbrough in a remarkable game at the Madejski. Boro started with purpose and quickly went into a two goal lead as Stuart Downing converted Yakubu's cross and then provider turned scorer with a tap in after Fabio Rochemback's crisp free kick was fumbled by Marcus Hahnemann. It stung the hosts into action and they pulled level with two in as many minutes before the break. Dave Kitson started the revival, bundling the ball in after Seol Ki-Hyeon caused panic with a near post cross and before Boro could recover, Ivar Ingimarsson crossed for Steve Sidwell to sweep in the equaliser. Another scramble brought the winning goal as Seol again crossed and after Kevin Doyle failed to find the net, sub Leroy Lita crashed the ball in. Boro were unlucky not to earn a point though when Mark Viduka found the net only to be denied by the offside flag, a decision which replays later proved to be wrong.

Attendance : 23,855
Assists : Yakubu, n/a, n/a, Ingimarsson, n/a

West Ham (0) 3 (Zamora 52, 66, Cole 90)
Charlton (1) 1 (Bent (D) (pen) 15)

SENT OFF: Traore (Charlton) 26

West Ham are off and running again as they came from behind to beat East London rivals Charlton. The visitors went ahead thanks to a Darren Bent penalty after Danny Gabbidon had handled in the area, however they then shot themselves in the foot as Djimi Traore, having already been booked, stretched out a leg to stop a quick free kick from being taken and was promptly sent off. After the break, the Hammers took control with Lee Bowyer and Bobby Zamora unstoppable! Bowyer set up the equaliser for Zamora to tap in at the far post and the same pair combined again as Zamora netted with a hooked effort which seemed to take an age to bobble in off the post. In stoppage time, Bowyer sent sub Carlton Cole through to drill in a decisive third.

Attendance : 35,000
Assists : n/a, Benayoun, Bowyer, Bowyer

Bolton (2) 2 (Davies 9, Campo 13)
Tottenham (0) 0

Two clubs with high expectations of the new season met at the Reebok with Bolton coming out on top against Spurs. After a dismal pre-season, Bolton's Prmiership campaign could hardly have started better as they tore into an early two goal lead. The first came from a Gary Speed corner that was nodded in at the near post, amid shirt pulling in the area from both sets of players, by an unmarked Kevin Davies. If that goal was due to poor defending, the second was down to pure opportunism as a back-heeled clearance by Jermaine Jenas bobbled out, seemingly harmlessly, to Ivan Campo who struck a first time shot from fully 40 yards that arrowed into the bottom corner of the net, the swerve deceiving keeper Paul Robinson. Spurs had plenty of possession but only a shot from Jermain Defoe called opposing keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen into action. The second half saw odd chances for both clubs with Bolton coming the closest when both Kevin Nolan and the El Hadji Diouf shooting narrowly wide, although one of the biggest cheers of the half came when referee Phil Dowd went sprawling as he ran to point for a goal kick!

Attendance : 22,899
Assists : Speed (ck), n/a

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