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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff
Aug 17, 2013

Prem: Villa shock Arsenal; United win

Arsenal suffered a demoralising defeat on the opening day of the Premier League season as Aston Villa came from behind to win at the Emirates, while Manchester United, Liverpool, Fulham, West Ham and Southampton all kicked off their campaigns with victories.

Arsene Wenger can't bear to watch as Arsenal crash against Aston Villa.
Arsene Wenger can't bear to watch as Arsenal crash against Aston Villa.

Arsenal were beaten 3-1 by Aston Villa, the start to the campaign that manager Arsene Wenger did not want as pressure mounts over a lack of new signings in North London, with not one penny of their transfer war chest yet spent.

The Gunners did make the perfect start when Olivier Giroud put Arsenal in front after six minutes, producing a fine finish following great work from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain down the left.

But Arsenal were pegged back just 16 minutes later, with Christian Benteke heading in the rebound after his penalty was saved by Wojciech Szczesny, who looked to have redeemed himself after bringing down Gabriel Agbonlahor for the spot-kick.

• Delaney: Harsh lessons for Cardiff

Santi Cazorla was on the bench at the start of the game after being in Ecuador with Spain midweek, but Wenger introduced the Spaniard immediately after halftime.

The pressure mounted on Villa as Giroud twice went close to doubling his tally, and Tomas Rosicky engineered an opportunity to get into the box but failed to test Brad Guzan in the visitor's goal.

Fabian Delph almost gave Villa the lead against the run of play, but Arsenal survived when his shot bounced back off the post. Moments later, though, Arsenal conceded a second penalty after Laurent Koscielny fouled Agbonlahor and Benteke stepped up to slot home.

Arsenal's bid to get an equaliser suffered a body blow as Koscielny was given a red card, and Villa held firm when Guzan produced a fine reflex save to tip Cazorla's effort onto the bar.

For all of Arsenal's attempts to hit back, they conceded a third after Villa debutant Antonio Luna was put through by Andreas Weimann.

Manchester United started life after Sir Alex Ferguson in familiar fashion with a comfortable 4-1 victory at Swansea.

New boss David Moyes has had a difficult summer, failing to land his transfer targets and having to answer numerous questions about Wayne Rooney's future.

The England striker was a second-half substitute, but he was thoroughly overshadowed by Robin van Persie, who volleyed United ahead in the 34th minute and scored a sumptuous goal 18 minutes from time.

Danny Welbeck netted in between, while there was consolation for Swansea in the form of a debut goal for Wilfried Bony on 82 minutes before Welbeck had the final say with a deft chip in injury time.

Liverpool had new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to thank for their 1-0 win at home to Stoke City, as he saved a late penalty to deny the visitors a point.

Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal of the game in the 37th minute by drilling in a 22-yard effort beyond Asmir Begovic.

Mignolet struggled to deal with several Stoke crosses into the Liverpool area, and he nearly cost his new side as Robert Huth hit the bar with a header from one of them.

Jordan Henderson was thwarted by the post as Liverpool pushed for a second goal, and Begovic was forced into two excellent saves to keep out Philippe Coutinho.

Stoke looked as though they were going to claim a point under new manager Mark Hughes when they were awarded a spot-kick after Daniel Agger handled in the box. However, Mignolet ensured he would keep a clean sheet in his debut by saving from Jon Walters in the 88th minute.

Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan gave West Ham United a 2-0 win over last season's Championship winners Cardiff City.

Matt Jarvis was the provider for Cole to open the scoring after 13 minutes as his low cross enabled Cole to spin and fire his shot at goal. Nolan doubled the lead 14 minutes from the end when he blasted in his first-time shot beyond David Marshall.

Norwich City and Everton played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Carrow Road. Norwich led through Steven Whittaker, but two goals in the space of four second-half minutes saw Everton turn the game around. First, Ross Barkley leveled with his first-ever Premier League goal before Seamus Coleman turned the game on its head.

But the Canaries were not to be denied a point on their turf as Ricky van Wolfswinkel marked his first game for the club with the leveler.

Rickie Lambert, who scored in his England debut midweek, converted a 91st-minute penalty to give Southampton a deserved 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. And Pajtim Kasami bagged the only goal for Fulham as Martin Jol's men collected maximum points with a 1-0 win at a new-look Sunderland.

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