Prem Lge: Chelsea battle back, Arsenal suffer

Chelsea came back from a goal down to beat West Brom 2-1 at home, as they kept up the pressure at the top of the Premier League table.

Ben Foster

GettyImagesBen Foster looks on helpless as Nicola Anelka’s shot creeps in

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The Blues were up against it from the start, as Shane Long stole the ball from Alex on the halfway line and ran through to beat stand-in goalkeeper Hilario in the fourth minute. Chelsea offered little in attack and Salomon Kalou bore the brunt of manager Andre Villas-Boas’ anger as he was hauled off in the 34th minute.

After the break though, the Blues were a different team and did not have to wait long as Nicolas Anelka took advantage of some sloppy defending to hammer a deflected shot past Ben Foster. With around ten minutes to do, substitute Florent Malouda then stole in at the back post to net the winner after a good cross from Jose Bosingwa.

Peter Odemwingie’s arrival sparked the Baggies back into action and the Nigerian was guilty of a terrible miss as a long cross found him six yards out, but his volley found Hilario’s hands and the Blues hung on for the win.

A testing week for Arsene Wenger ended on a sour note as Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners against Arsenal at the Emirates.

The depleted Gunners, who lost Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona on Monday, had Emmanuel Frimpong sent off on his full Premier League debut.

Wenger sprang a surprise prior to kick-off, naming Samir Nasri in the starting XI despite his apparently imminent move to Manchester City, while Carl Jenkinson and Emmanuel Frimpong also came in. Luis Suarez was a surprise omission for Liverpool, with Kenny Dalglish opting to play Stewart Downing just off Andy Carroll.

Arsenal’s already stretched squad was further depleted after 14 minutes when centre back Laurent Koscielny limped off clutching his back, bringing Ignasi Miquel into the fray. And six minutes later, with Arsenal still rattled from the reshuffle, came the best chance of the half, as Andy Carroll rose at the far post to meet Downing’s cross – only to see Wojciech Szczesny claw his effort away.

Although Liverpool dominated possession for the majority of the opening period, Arsenal finished strongly as the interval loomed, and Frimpong forced Pepe Reina into a low save with a stinging drive from 30 yards, before Nasri drove at the defence and pulled a shot just wide.

After a sterile opening to the second half, Andrei Arshavin outmuscled Enrique in the area on 68 minutes before squaring the ball to Robin van Persie who, six yards out, scuffed a shot straight into the knees of Reina.

The momentum swung Liverpool’s way when Frimpong was sent off six minutes later, the youngster shown a second yellow after bringing down Lucas with a clumsy challenge. And Dalglish’s men took full advantage of their numerical superiority on 78 minutes when Miquel’s clearance bounced off Ramsey’s chest before looping over Szczesny and into the back of the net.

Liverpool doubled their lead in stoppage time, Raul Meireles going clear on goal before squaring the ball to Suarez, who could not miss from close range.

The optimism created by Sunderland’s busy summer of transfers was checked as they lost 1-0 to Newcastle in the Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light.

After Joey Barton saw his goal-bound effort apparently blocked by Seb Larsson’s hand in the first half, Ryan Taylor ensured justice was done by putting the visitors ahead after 63 minutes, his arrowed free-kick flying straight into the top corner of the net. Steve Bruce’s miserable afternoon was completed when full-back Phil Bardsley was shown a second yellow for a dangerous tackle on Fabricio Coloccini in the dying seconds.

New Aston Villa boss Alex McLeish endeared himself to a sceptical home crowd by masterminding a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers.

Gabby Agbonlahor’s 50th Premier League goal put Villa ahead after 10 minutes, the pacey striker cutting in from the right, shrugging off Michel Salgado and then sending a curling strike beyond Paul Robinson. Fifteen minutes later Rovers found themselves further in the mire as Emile Heskey grabbed his first goal in 13 matches – and his 11th career strike against Blackburn – by drilling in a low shot from the edge of the box.

Despite being under pressure for virtually the entire first half, Rovers got themselves back into the game a couple of minutes after the break, Morten Gamst Pedersen timing his run shrewdly to nod in Junior Hoilett’s centre. But Steve Kean’s dreams of an unlikely point were shattered shortly afterwards as Darren Bent opened his account for the season by pouncing on Stiliyan Petrov’s deflected shot and smashing over Robinson – a strike that handed a welcome boost to former Birmingham chief McLeish.

QPR bounced back from their opening day thumping at home to Bolton by claiming a 1-0 victory at the home of notorious slow-starters Everton.

With the first chance they mustered, Tommy Smith nudged the visitors into the lead with an inventive strike after 31 minutes, having profited from a mistake from Arsenal target Phil Jagielka, who gifted the ball to Akos Buzsaky.

Everton, playing for the first time this season after the cancellation of last week’s game at Tottenham, pressed without displaying a cutting edge in the second half, meaning Smith’s gave QPR the first three points on offer following Tony Fernandes’ takeover.

Wigan Athletic boss Roberto Martinez picked up a 0-0 draw at the home of his former club Swansea, who were grateful for Michel Vorm’s penalty save from Ben Watson.


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