Luis Suarez of Liverpool is tackled by West Bromís Claudio Yacob during the Premier League match , on Saturday. (Getty Images)
London: New Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, having dared to replace sacked fan hero Kenny Dalglish, could barely have imagined a worse opening day to the Premier League season after a 0-3 loss at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The defeat was made more galling by a thumping 5-0 win at Queens Park Rangers for Swansea City, the team he left after devising a style of play that wooed a Liverpool hierarchy keen to return to the pass-and-move groove of the 1980s.
Tottenham Hotspur were also frustrated in a 1-2 defeat at Newcastle United, where ex-Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas’ new charges hit the woodwork twice before Newcastle’s Demba Ba netted to end a personal 14-game goal drought.
Jermain Defoe grabbed Spurs’ equaliser, following up his own header on 76 minutes, but Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa soon converted a penalty after the Frenchman was brought down.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had almost as bad a day as Rodgers, watching his toothless side held 0-0 at home by Sunderland.
New strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud had decent chances but never came especially close as Arsenal supporters, fed up by high-profile departures and no trophies in recent seasons, were left fretting over another difficult campaign.
News at full-time of midfielder Alex Song heading to Barcelona hardly improved the mood in north London.
Liverpool fans, many of whom were upset by the American owners’ treatment of Dalglish when he was sacked at the end of last season after finishing eighth, were in an even darker place as the promise of a Rodgers revolution began very badly.
A Zoltan Gera cracker just before the break, Peter Odemwingie’s 64th minute penalty, and Romelu Lukaku’s header sealed a famous opening day win for new Albion manager Steve Clarke, Dalglish’s assistant at Liverpool last term.
It could have been worse for Liverpool had Shane Long not missed an awful penalty on the hour after Daniel Agger’s red card for a push.
Rodgers felt the decisions for the penalties were harsh.
In typically hot weather for the first day of the English season, Arsenal and Liverpool’s woes quickly gave fans something to talk about along with refereeing controversies, goalkeeping howlers and smash-hit new signings in other games.
West Ham United’s top-flight return was marked by a 1-0 win over Aston Villa and their new boss Paul Lambert, although Kevin Nolan’s 40th minute goal had a hint of offside.
Fellow new boys Reading drew 1-1 at home to Stoke City after Adam Le Fondre’s late spot kick for the hosts partly spared the blushes of ’keeper Adam Federici, who was at fault for Michael Kightly’s opener.
New Spanish midfielder Michu netted the first Premier League goal of the campaign after eight minutes thanks to QPR ’keeper Robert Green’s mistake and later grabbed another as Michael Laudrup started life as Swansea coach in thrilling fashion.
United States forward Clint Dempsey has not burnt his bridges with Fulham by refusing to play and could still feature for the west London club if a desired move does not materialise, manager Martin Jol said on Saturday.
Fulham showed they hardly needed last season's top scorer when they romped to a 5-0 home win over Norwich City on the Premier League's opening day but Jol’s post-match news conference was still dominated by Dempsey’s no-show.