With the Premier League’s title-challenging teams not playing until Sunday, and Arsenal having featured at lunchtime, centre stage fell to the likes of Everton and Aston Villa as well as new-boys Queens Park Rangers, Norwich City and Swansea City on Saturday.
Indeed, after each had endured difficult starts to life in the top division, it was the sides who were promoted last year who dominated the headlines. All three battled to victories, sealing vital early-season points in the process. FIFA.com reviews the afternoon action in the Premier League.
Aston Villa 1–1 Newcastle United (Villa Park)
Both of these sides began the day with unbeaten league records so a draw might have been expected. But the home side started strongly and took an early lead through in-form striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has appeared rejuvenated under new manager Alex McLeish and now has three league goals this season. Team-mate Darren Bent missed a chance to extend the advantage and Villa paid the price in the opening stages of the second half when Leon Best equalised for the Magpies, with his own third strike of the campaign. Neither side could fashion a winner in the time remaining, though, and a point apiece it was.
Bolton Wanderers 1–2 Norwich City (Reebok Stadium)
After a handsome victory on the opening day at QPR, Bolton have struggled for points since – losing against Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United – and that continued at home to Norwich. The visitors were winless coming into the fixture but first-half goals from Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson gave Paul Lambert’s team a handsome advantage before half-time. Their cause was helped further by the dismissal of Bolton striker Ivan Klasnic shortly before the interval. But Wanderers refused to give up in the second half and reduced the deficit just after the hour mark through a Martin Petrov penalty. The Canaries held on, however, to move up to a comfortable mid-table position.
Everton 3–1 Wigan Athletic (Goodison Park)
David Moyes’ Everton suffered a tough transfer window – notably losing midfielder Mikel Arteta to Arsenal – and that had been reflected in their results so far, with the Toffees yet to win at home. Tim Cahill again led the line for the Blues, but it was Wigan’s Franco Di Santo who broke the deadlock with his third goal of the season. Everton levelled within a minute, however, when defender Phil Jagielka reacted quickest to head in a rebound. With time running out, Everton finally enjoyed some fortune as substitute Apostolos Vellios scored his first goal for the club, before recent loan signing Royston Drenthe added a third to secure a much-needed victory.
Swansea City 3–0 West Bromwich Albion (Liberty Stadium)
Despite some impressive, attacking football on show so far this season, Swansea had failed to find the net since their heralded return to the top flight. Brendan Rodgers’ side finally put that right against West Brom, with last year’s play-off final hero Scott Sinclair converting a penalty after 15 minutes. Ten minutes later the Swans had doubled their goal tally for the campaign, summer signing Leroy Lita heading in from a corner. And it did not take long before the hosts increased their lead in the second half, winger Nathan Dyer beating Ben Foster to wrap up the points.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0–3 Queens Park Rangers (Molineux)
To many onlookers, QPR’s capture of midfielder Joey Barton shortly before the transfer window closed was an astute piece of business by manager Neil Warnock. The former Newcastle United man, who was instantly named captain upon his arrival at the club, began to pay back the faith shown in him with an early goal against Wolves, who previously had two wins from four games. That lead was quickly doubled by team-mate Alejandro Faurlin as Rangers caught the home side cold. The visitors were in full control and they grabbed a third as full time approached, striker DJ Campbell ending any hopes of a Wolves revival.