Luis Suarez's missed penalty early on along with Andy Carroll's ruled out effort have come back to haunt Liverpool as they fought out a 1 all draw with Sunderland at Anfield. It was a game of two halves where we saw the good and bad of Liverpool. They dominated the first half with some really enterprising play, in particular from new boys Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing. But the second half was a different story as they failed to press Sunderland and let them right back into the match.
It didn't take long for the opening day to provide its first talking point as it came after only four and a half minutes of play. Suarez, pressing as always, charged down a long ball from Richardson and broke into space. Suarez had Richardson on his tail, but only the 'keeper - Mignolet - in front. He decided to try and take the ball round the 'keeper in his trade mark style, however he was shoved in the back by Richardson and drew a penalty. Interestingly enough referee Phil Dowd only decided to give Richardson a yellow card. From the ensuing penalty kick Suarez unfortunately cleared the cross bar and Sunderland fans breathed a sigh of relief. Only five minutes later, however Suarez redeemed himself with a neat run onto a well taken free kick from Charlie Adam. The free kick was on the right hand side of the pitch, just outside the box - a left footer's dream. So Charlie Adam, being a left footer, stepped up to deliver a superb driven free kick into the box. Suarez dropped low and got his head to the ball putting it just past the 'keeper to make it 1 nil in favour of Liverpool. In the twentieth minute Adam was at it again delivering a delightful diagonal ball to Carroll who was just inside the box. Carroll had his arm on Anton Ferdinand and he made the most of it diving to the ground as Andy Carroll slotted home with a wonderful left foot drive. The goal was disallowed due to Carroll's 'contact' with Ferdinand. The replays showed it was a very harsh call on Carroll who barely had his arm on Ferdinand. Anton could be up for an early nomination for an Academy award with those acting skills. Henderson and Downing switched flanks numerous times during the match to good effect. Downing popped up on the right flank in the 33rd minute making a surging run from inside his own half. He then skipped past a couple of would be defenders before cutting inside to his favoured left foot and striking a venomous shot on goal only to be denied by the wood work. It really deserved a goal and on another day it possibly would of went in. Four minutes later Lucas pressed hard on Sunderland and won the ball deep in Sunderland's half. He had Suarez to the right but went himself with a low shot that went wide of the upright.
Sunderland then got back into the match, mainly by targeting young Liverpool right back Flanagan. Sebastian Larsson de-possesed him in the 52 minuted and delivered a nice cross to Gyan. Only for him to head it straight to Liverpool 'keeper Pepe Reina. Four minutes later Flanagan was exposed again, this time for poor marking. A thrown in on the left hand side of the pitch was won by Sunderland. A cross was then delivered to the unmarked Larsson at the back post - where Flanagan should have been. Larsson then finished with a lovely right foot volley to square the game at 1 all. In the 60th minute Liverpool brought on Kop favourite Dirk Kuyt in place of former Sunderland man Jordan Henderson. After the change the corner, taken by Charlie Adam, was swung into Carroll who was lurking at the back post only for Mignolet to make a fine save. Twelve minutes later Kuyt passed a neat ball into Carroll who turned his man twice and took a shot with his weaker right foot, only for the ball to hit Wes Brown and flash wide. Liverpool really looked to try and claim all three points, while Sunderland looked to shut up shop and were content with the draw. In the 86th minute Liverpool had one final chance as Meireles - a substitute for Suarez - delivered a brilliant cross to the towering Andy Carroll. He unfortunately headed wide of the goal. Sunderland then had possibly their best chance of the match in the second minute of injury time. Sessegnon ran at the Liverpool defence, but put too much on his pass to captain Lee Cattermole who struggled to get it out from his feet. He switched it to his left and shot well over the bar for a potential game winner. It ended at 1 all in a good match to kick off the English Premier League season.
Lets go round the grounds to look at the scores from the other five matches played on saturday:
Bolton gave QPR a big welcome to the EPL, thrashing them 4 nil. It started out however with a disallowed goal to QPR as Bothroyd was ruled offside by the sharp eyed linesman. Bolton responded with a Gary Cahill thunderbolt from outside the box to open the scoring officially. Bolton's second was an own goal from QPR's new defender Gabbidon who turned a free kick into his own net. Klasinic made it 3 nil with a deflected shot and Muamba completed the scoring after being played in beautifully by his team mates.
Fulham were unlucky not to take all three points at home to Aston Villa. John Arne Riise made his return to the EPL with an unlucky miss after being played clear on the left flank of the penalty area, only to shoot over the bar. Andrew Johnson had a wonderful shot saved by Villa's new 'keeper Shay Given. Zamora also had a point blank shot denied by the brilliant gloves man.
Arsenal's woes from the end of last year seemed to continue as they drew with Newcastle, yet again at St James Park - last time they played there Newcastle came from 4 nil down to salvage the unsalvageable and get a 4 all draw. The game will however be remembered for 'Gervinho-gate', as the Ivorian forward was given his marching orders for a 'hand-on-face' on outspoken Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton. Barton escaped with a yellow, even though he clearly provoked Gervinho. Although Gervinho clearly provoked not only Barton, but the whole of St James Park with his dive - equal to that of Ferdinand's effort in the other match. Barton picked Gervinho up and welcomed him to the EPL, before players rushed in to break up the situation. Only for Gervinho to reach at Barton and possibly laying a fingertip on his face Barton fell to the ground like he had been shot. Barton clearly wins the Academy award for acting this week, and will now be immortalised on this blog with the weekly 'Barton award' - for the player who takes the best dive of that week. Congratulations Joey.
The Wolves got their season off to a positive start with a win over Blackburn, 2-1. Blackburn had an early chance denied by a scrambling Wolves 'keeper Hennesey. However Blackburn made Wolves pay soon after as a long ball found Jason Roberts up front. He brought the ball down well and held off two defenders before playing in new recruit Formica for his first Blackburn goal and Blackburn's first goal of the season. Wolves responded with some well constructed build up play, before English international Matt Jarvis found Steven Fletcher at the back post. He rose above his marker and nodded home to make it 1 all. In the second half Blackburn right back Michel Salgado brought down Matt Jarvis inside the area and Wolves were awarded the penalty. Kevin Doyle stepped up to the spot, but his shot was saved by the evergreen Paul Robinson. The ball went back out into play and a cross found a Wolves player who headed it at goal, only for it to be blocked. Robinson was off his line and the ball popped up to Ward on the edge of the box. He slotted home with a lovely shot to give Wolves the win.
The final match saw newcomers Norwich take on Wigan. De Laet - on loan from Manchester United to Norwich - brought down Di Santo after he broke clear by taking possession off of him. Ben Watson dispatched the ensuing penalty to make it 1 nil in favour of Wigan. Norwich responded with a well delivered cross from Morison that caught Wigan 'keeper Al-Habsi in two minds as he tried to get the ball but only parried into Hoolahan who knocked it into the net to make it 1 all and thats how it stayed.
The remaining games of this round see Chelsea take on Stoke at the Britannia, Manchester United take on West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthornes and Manchester City taking on the first ever Welsh team in the Premier League, Swansea at the newly named Etihad Stadium. The Tottenham V Everton game has been postponed due to the riots in London. A brilliant start to what should be a big season of EPL, stay tuned folks.