FOOTBALL IS BACK! We’ve waited all summer long and finally the Premier League makes its long-awaited return this afternoon.
We’re going minute-by-minute for the opening day of the season.
- Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
- Fulham 5-0 Norwich
- Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea
- Reading 1-1 Stoke
- West Brom 3-0 Liverpool
- West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa
- Newcastle v Tottenham, 5.30pm
14.06 – I don’t know about you, but we’ve been like kids at Christmas all morning. Euro 2012 and the London Olympics were decent distractions over the past couple of months but the day has arrived at last. With just under an hour before the 3pm kick-offs, we’ll have all the team news along shortly.
Before that, read previews of all seven of today’s matches here.
14.10 – From an Irish point of view, there is a World Cup campaign on the horizon and it will be interesting to see how if likes of James McCarthy, James McClean, Ciaran Clark and Seamus Coleman can impress Giovanni Trapattoni (that’s if he’s watching) for their respective clubs.
14.13 – Can Manchester United wrestle back the title from City? Who are the ‘top four’? What can the new generation of managers achieve?
IT IS 97 DAYS since Martin Tyler screamed Sergio Aguero’s name as the little Argentine ghosted by a couple of QPR defenders and won the title for Manchester City in the most dramatic season finale ever witnessed in English football.
The Premier League, now in its 21st season, resumes tomorrow and, as ever, several fascinating plots, sub plots and side stories will unfold over the next nine months.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen (c), Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Cazorla, Walcott, Gervinho, Podolski. Subs: Mannone, Djourou, Coquelin, Santos, Ramsey, Arshavin, Giroud.
Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, Richardson, O’Shea, Cuellar, Larsson, McClean, Cattermole (c), Colback, Sessegnon, Campbell. Subs: Wickham, Kilgallon, Meyler, Bramble, Saha, Elmohamady, Westwood.
14.20 – West Brom: Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Mulumbu, Yacob, Morrison, Gera, Long, Odemwingie. Subs: Myhill, Jara Reyes, Dawson, Lukaku, El Ghanassy, Brunt, Fortune.
Liverpool : Reina, Johnson, Kelly, Agger, Skrtel, Lucas, Allen, Gerrard, Downing, Borini, Suarez. Subs: Jones, Adam, Henderson, Shelvey, Carroll, Carragher, Cole
14.22 – Fulham: Schwarzer, Riether, Hangeland, Hughes, Riise, Duff, Diarra, Dembele, Kacaniklic, Ruiz, Petric.
Norwich: Ruddy, R. Martin, Turner, R. Bennett, Tierney, Johnson, Surman, Howson, Pilkington, Snodgrass, Holt.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Reid, McCartney, Collins, Demel, Nolan, Taylor, Vaz Te, Noble, Diame, Cole.
Aston Villa: Given; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Baker; Holman, Delph, El Ahmadi, N’Zogbia; Ireland; Bent.
14.27 – Reading: Federici, Gunter, Harte, Gorkss, Pearce, Guthrie, Leigertwood, McAnuff (c), Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak.
Stoke: Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson, Kightly, Whelan, Whitehead, Etherington, Walters, Crouch.
14.33 – QPR: Green, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Da Silva, Taarabt, Park, Diakite, Hoilett, Mackie, Cisse.
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Williams, Chico, Taylor, Britton, De Guzman, Dyer, Routledge, Michu, Graham.
14.50 – At a quick glance down the team sheets, there are league debuts galore this afternoon.
It will be worth keeping an eye on: Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski, Joe Allen, Fabio Borini, Claudio Yacob, Robert Snodgrass, Mladen Petric, Karim El Ahmadi, Ron Vlaar Chris Gunter, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Ji-Sung Park, Junior Hoilett, Jonathan de Guzman and Michu.
14.56 – We’ve missed you, Jeff. Four minutes until the season gets underway…
15.03 – And we’re off. Seconds into Liverpool v West Brom at The Hawthorns and Baggies left-back Liam Ridgewell goes close with a decent effort, which sails just over the bar. More of the same, please.
15.09 – Two great saves early on at the Emirates. First Szczesny keeps Ireland’s James McClean at bay. Then new signing Santi Cazorla forces Simon Mignolet into an excellent stop.
15.10 – GOAL! QPR 0-1 Swansea (Michu)
Swansea new boy Michu scores the league’s first goal with the help of Hammers keeper Rob Green. The Spanish midfielder, who found the net 15 times for Rayo Vallecano last season, fires home from 25 yards.
Picked him in my Fanstay Football team… then left him on the bench.
15.16 – Luis Suarez looking sharp for Liverpool in the opening 15 minutes. He’s had two efforts on goal already.
15.23 – At Craven Cottage, Costa Rican attacker Bryan Ruiz tries to lob Norwich stopper John Ruddy, but the attempt goes marginally too high. Jon Walters has had the best of Stoke’s chances against Reading, meanwhile.
Still 0-0 around all the other grounds with the exception of Loftus Road, where Michu’s goal separates the team.
15.29 – GOAL! Fulham 1-0 Norwich (Damien Duff)
DUFFER!! The Ireland winger races onto a long ball and strokes it past ruddy to give Martin Jol’s side the lead.
Michu celebrates scoring for Swansea. Credit: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire/Press Association Images
15.38 – GOAL! Reading 0-1 Stoke (Michael Kightly)
Scrappy goal for the Potters but they all count. Michael Kightly, signed from Wolves in the summer, scores on his debut after Reading keeper Adam Federici seems to dive over his scuffed strike.
15.39 – Over at Upton Park, Mark Noble touches a short free-kick to Kevin Nolan, who fizzes a shot just wide. No goals to report with 7 minutes remaining before the break.
15.42 – Good stat, this:
15.44 – GOAL! West Brom 1-0 Liverpool (Zoltan Gera)
Unmarked on the edge of the box, the Hungarian catches the ball perfectly to give Pepe Reina no chance. What a hit!
15.46 – GOAL! West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa (Kevin Nolan)
Free kick played into the box, Ricardo Vaz Te pulls the ball back from the end line and midfielder Kevin Nolan finishes. I cannot confirm whether he celebrated with his trademark ‘chicken dance’.
15.48 – GOAL! Fulham 2-0 Norwich (Mladen Petric)
Another debut goal and it’s Croatian striker Mladen Petric, who signed on a free over the summer after being let go by Hamburg. Duff involved again with the corner and Petric heads home.
15.50 – Half-time around the grounds so here’s that Gera goal. It’s the pick of the lot so far today:
YouTube credit: VideoGoles109
16.03 – Oh dear, Rob Green…
YouTube credit: 247FootballClips
16.04 – And we’re off again. Liverpool have played some good football but after wasting a number of opportunities find themselves behind. Will Brendan Rodgers keep it the same and hope they can score or make changes early in the second half?
16.10 – Stephen Ireland, who has been impressive for Aston Villa, brings a good save out of Jussi Jaaskelainen. Paul Lambert’s team are a goal down to West Ham.
16.13 – GOAL! Fulham 3-0 Norwich (Mladen Petric)
A second for the Croatian striker, who tries his luck from distance and catches a fortunate deflection off the back of Michael Turner. That looks like the game for Fulham.
16.15 – GOAL! QPR 0-2 Swansea (Michu)
It’s a debut to remember for the Spaniard, who nets for a second time.
16.17 – PENALTY TO WEST BROM – Daniel Agger pushes Shane Long in the back just inside the area and receives a straight red card. It will be the Irish striker to take…
16.20 – And Reina saves! Long stutters his run up, and shoots low to the left for the Spaniard to make the block. Poor penalty.
16.24 – GOAL! West Brom 2-0 Liverpool (Peter Odemwingie)
This time it’s Martin Sktrel who is the guilty party, and Long steps aside to allow Peter Odemwingie to smash past Reina.
16.27 – GOAL! QPR 0-3 Swansea (Nathan Dyer)
Michael Laudrup could not have asked for a better score line in his first Premier League game in charge of the Swans. Winger Nathan Dyer latches onto Wayne Routledge pass and coolly shots beyond Rob Green.
16.29 – GOAL! Fulham 4-0 Norwich (Alex Kacaniklic)
Moussa Dembele and Mladen Petric combine to set up Alex Kacaniklic and the 21-year-old Swedish international does the rest.
16.33 – GOAL! QPR 0-4 Swansea (Nathan Dyer)
Unbelievable, Jeff. Swansea are now four goals to the good at Loftus Road. Who needs Brendan Rodgers, eh?
16.35 – Romelu Lukaku, on as a sub for West Brom, makes an instant impact to put James Morrison through. The winger fires wide.
16.39 – GOAL! West Brom 3-0 Liverpool (Romelu Lukaku)
The Belgian striker finds the back of the net minutes later. The on loan Chelsea striker makes it 3-0 with a header on what has been an excellent day for former Liverpool assistant boss Steve Clarke.
Suarez, meanwhile, misses his best chance of the game.
16.42 – GOAL! QPR 0-5 Swansea (Scott Sinclair)
It’s the first time that Swansea have scored five in the Premier League and it’s England winger Scott Sinclair, only on as a second half substitute.
16.45 – Arsenal’s new French striker Olivier Giroud, who will be tasked with replacing Robin van Persie, misses a superb chance from 12 yards out after being introduced by Arsene Wenger.
16.48 – GOAL! Fulham 5-0 Norwich (Steve Sidwell)
The midfielder stokes past Ruddy on an awful day for Chris Hughton.
16.50 – GOAL! Reading 1-1 Stoke (Adam Le Fondre)
The Royals look like they’ve rescued a point after being awarded a spot-kick in the last minute of normal time. Striker Adam Le Fondre dispatches.
16.51 – Lukaku scores West Brom’s third:
YouTube credit: iranissexy
16.52 – FT: West Brom 3-0 Liverpool
16.53 – FT: Fulham 5-0 Norwich
16.54 – FT: Arsenal 0-0 Sunderland
16.55 – FT: QPR 0-5 Swansea
16.57 – FT: West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa
16.58 – FT: Reading 1-1 Stoke
17.06 – Well, it’s certainly been an eventful first part of the opening day and one that fans of Liverpool, QPR and Norwich fans will want to forget. It’s not finished just yet, however, and Sean will be along in the next few minutes with minute-by-minute coverage Newcastle v Tottenham.