Premier League round-up

Premier League round-up

Gunners slump in rain; Taylor made for Toon; Villa rattle Rovers; Hoops silence Toffees; Stalemate in Swansea; Blues battle back

As the heavens opened in North London the look etched all over Arsene Wenger’s face said it all. It never rains but it pours. Liverpool left the capital with a 2-0 victory that will only increase the pressure on the beleaguered Frenchman to spend, after his Arsenal team exited the field to a crescendo of boos.

There was nothing wrong with the spirit shown by the home side but once youthful exuberance was replaced by a reckless naivety in the case of debutant Emmanuel Frimpong’s second yellow card for a late lunge on Lucas with 20 minutes left, there was no way back for Arsenal.

Frimpong, 19, left the field to a standing ovation as his physical presence at least added a bit of steel to an Arsenal midfield that surprisingly also included Samir Nasri.

With Arsenal down to ten men Kenny Dalglish smelt blood as he summoned Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez from the substitutes’ bench and the pair instigated two late goals, on 78 and 90 minutes, which gave Liverpool an impressive away day win.

After Meireles and Suarez tried to link-up inside the box substitute Ignasi Miquel saw his attempted clearance inadvertently ricochet off Aaron Ramsey’s head and loop over Wojciech Szczesny. It was that kind of day for Arsenal.

As Arsenal strived in vain for an equaliser Liverpool picked them off at will. Lucas’ break on the counter-attack eventually led to a square ball to Meireles which was rolled back across goal for Suarez to tap in from close range.

The Wear-Tyne derby was hardly El Clasico mark II but Newcastle fans will care not one iota as the early season bragging rights were claimed over bitter rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Continual upheaval inside the corridors of power at St James’ Park seems to be doing Alan Pardew’s side precious little harm as they followed up last week’s stalemate with Arsenal with a 1-0 victory secured courtesy of Ryan Taylor’s looping free-kick.

A turbo-charged derby that lacked any real guile was decided just past the hour mark when Taylor’s whipped in delivery from wide left evaded the flailing attempts of Simon Mignolet in Sunderland’s goal.

Taylor’s winner will quell a sense of injustice Newcastle will have felt in the first half when Howard Webb waved away their vociferous appeals as Joey Barton’s goal bound header was repelled on the line by the arm of Sebastian Larsson. The corner which was awarded provided scant consolation for an irate Toon faithful.

Steve Bruce’s woe at Sunderland’s inability to improve on a record that reads just one win on home soil against their neighbours in 31 years was exacerbated in the final minute when Phil Bardsley was sent off for a second bookable offence for a rash challenge on Fabricio Coloccini.

Andre Villas-Boas suffered a scare in his first home game as Chelsea boss, but saw the Blues stage a strong second half recovery to overcome plucky West Brom 2-1.

Shane Long, fresh from notching against Manchester United on the opening weekend, broke the deadlock at Stamford Bridge inside four minutes, with some less than convincing defending from burly Brazilian Alex allowing the nippy frontman to race clear and slot past Hilario.

Chelsea offered little in their first half showing to suggest that they were capable of hauling their way back into the tie, but a half-time barracking from their coach saw them emerge from the tunnel a different side.

It took the Blues just eight minutes to restore parity, with Nicolas Anelka breaking one challenge and drilling low into the bottom corner, via Jones Olsson’s heel.

The Baggies looked increasingly vulnerable as the game wore on, with the hosts swarming all over the men from the Midlands.

It quickly became only a matter of time before a winning goal arrived, and Florent Malouda duly bundled home at the back post with six minutes remaining, following some good work down the right by Jose Bosingwa.

Alex McLeish continues to win over a sceptical Aston Villa support as they were too strong for aBlackburn side who slumped to a 3-1 defeat in the Midlands.

Gabriel Agbonlahor was the architect of much of what was good about a fluid Villa as his stunning effort in the 12th minute set the tone for much of what followed. Taking the ball in the left channel he left Michel Salgado for dead before bending a sumptuous effort from the edge of the box to leave Paul Robinson clutching air.

Villa’s advantage was doubled midway through the opening period when Agbonlahor showed impressive upper body strength to shrug off Salgado before laying into the path of Heskey. McLeish is convinced he can rekindle Heskey’s flagging career and there was precious little wrong with the big man’s finish as he set his sights before registering with a daisy-cutter from the edge of the box.

Replete with a flea in their ear Blackburn improved after the interval and were rewarded with a fine goal from Morten Gamst Pedersen which reduced the deficit in the 52nd minute.

Junior Hoilett was at his bamboozling best with a mazy run down the left flank which culminated in an arrow like delivery that was smashed past Shay Given via the Norwegian’s forehead.

It was a tonic for the away side which proved short-lived. Darren Bent is not a striker who is content to play his part in a win without a goal and he ensured it was a satisfactory afternoon’s work when he took Stiliyan Petrov’s attempt from range in his stride, before firing home from around eight yards.

Everton’s belated opening game of the season proved to be the proverbial damp squib as Queen Park Rangers escaped from Merseyside with a 1-0 win that will help exorcise the demons of last week’s four-goal thrashing at the hands of Bolton.

A trademark Leighton Baines free-kick early on from the edge of the area rattled the frame of QPR’s goal, before the capital outfit swept up the field to forge ahead with a strike of genuine pedigree.

Half an hour had elapsed when Akos Buzsaky played in Tommy Smith inside Everton’s box with a cute pass. His guile was matched by his team-mate as the smartest of low finishes beat Tim Howard all-ends up.

Everton lacked anything like the poise needed to conjure a leveller as they had QPR on the back foot for much of the next hour without finding a breakthrough.

Roberto Martinez’s return to Swansea saw his Wigan side play out a second stalemate in as many games as their Welsh hosts won a first ever point in the Premier League.

Wigan squandered a glorious chance to steal a maximum haul when, with just 20 minutes remaining, Ben Watson saw his penalty saved by the impressive Michel Vorm. Ashley Williams’ misguided challenge on Jordi Gomez gave Watson an opportunity to do as he did last week against Norwich, but Vorm read his intentions to make a smart stop.

Both sides were guilty of profligacy in front of goal in a see-saw affair that saw Swansea’s record signing Danny Graham presented with but fail to convert four chances, while Victor Moses was again Wigan’s most potent attacking threat as he struck the bar late on.