LONDON - Liverpool crashed to a miserable 3-0 defeat at West Brom in Brendan Rodgers' first Premier League match as Reds boss, while Arsenal started life without Robin van Persie with a dour 0-0 draw against Sunderland on Saturday.
Rodgers, who gave debuts to new signings Joe Allen and Fabio Borini and left unsettled striker Andy Carroll on the bench, might have feared the worst when he saw Zoltan Gera blast Albion into the lead with a stunning 43rd-minute strike.
Pepe Reina kept Liverpool in the match when he saved Shane Long's woeful second half penalty after Reds defender Daniel Agger was sent off for a professional foul. But Albion won another penalty in the 64th minute and this time Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie stepped up to blast home. And Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, rubbed salt into Liverpool's wounds when he marked his West Brom debut with a 77th-minute strike.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must have been concerned that the Gunners failed to break down Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium in the first game since Dutch striker van Persie's £24 million move to Manchester United. Wenger gave debuts to Germany striker Lukas Podolski and Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla, while French forward Olivier Giroud, another new signing, came off the bench.
But the new boys were underwhelming, with Giroud missing the best chance of the afternoon. West Ham enjoyed a winning return to the top flight as Sam Allardyce's side beat Aston Villa 1-0 at Upton Park in Paul Lambert's first game as Villa boss. The Hammers, promoted via the Championship play-offs, took the points when Kevin Nolan sidefooted home in the 40th minute from Ricardo Vaz Te's assist despite Villa claims the West Ham striker was offside before he laid on the goal.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup savoured a five-star debut as new boy Michu inspired a 5-0 demolition of QPR at Loftus Road. Michu, signed by Laudrup from Rayo Vallecano for £2 million, took just eight minutes to score and the Spaniard struck again in the 53rd minute.
Nathan Dyer netted in the 63rd and 71st minutes and Scott Sinclair scored in the 81st minute as former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Laudrup made a dream start. Championship winners Reading rescued a 1-1 draw against Stoke at the Madejski Stadium on their return to the Premier League after a four-year absence.
Debutant Michael Kightly put Stoke ahead in the 34th minute thanks to a howler from Reading's Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici. But Adam Le Fondre earned a point with a penalty in the 90th minute after Stoke midfielder Dean Whitehead was sent off. At Craven Cottage, Fulham striker Mladen Petric showed there is life without Clint Dempsey as his debut double clinched a 5-0 win over Norwich. With American forward Clint Dempsey reportedly on strike after his fall-out with the club over his desire to join Liverpool, Damien Duff set the ball rolling with the first goal in the 26th minute.
Petric, signed from Hamburg, increased the Cottagers' lead four minutes before half-time and he netted again with a deflected 54th minute strike. Alex Kacaniklic struck in the 66th minute and Steve Sidwell's 87th minute penalty completed the rout. On Sunday champions Manchester City host Southampton and Champions League winners Chelsea face Wigan at the DW Stadium. On Monday, Everton entertain Manchester United.
Mladen Petric scored a double on his debut as Fulham got their Premier League campaign off to a blistering start with a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich at Craven Cottage. Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff opened the scoring and goals in either half from Petric set the Cottagers on their way before Sweden's Alex Kacaniklic and a Steve Sidwell penalty put the result beyond doubt.
Kacaniklic, who is hoping to feature in the first team this season after being on loan to Watford last term, started up front in the place of want away striker Clint Dempsey. Fulham were also without Kerim Frei, Philippe Senderos and Zdenek Grygera through injury, as new Norwich boss Chris Hughton gave debuts to summer signings Robert Snodgrass and Michael Turner in his first game in charge of the Canaries.
Costa Rican midfielder Bryan Ruiz had a chance to give the hosts a third a minute later but his free kick was saved by John Ruddy in the Norwich goal. But Petric got his second after 54 minutes with a long range effort into the top left corner of the goal.
Kacaniklic got the fourth after 66 minutes with Sidwell converting a penalty four minutes from time after a foul on Hugo Rodellaga, to ensure Martin Jol's side kept their record of never having been beaten at home in a Premier League opener.