London: Arsenal endured a dismal start to the new English Premier League season when Christian Benteke struck twice to lift Aston Villa to a shock 3-1 victory at the Emirates where the home side finished with 10 men on Saturday.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge scored and new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet saved a late penalty to earn their side a deserved 1-0 win over Stoke City in the early kick-off at Anfield and West Ham United beat promoted Cardiff City 2-0.
Arsenal took an early lead through forward Olivier Giroud but Benteke equalised by scoring from the rebound after having a penalty saved and the powerful Belgium striker fired home another spot-kick just past the hour mark.
Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny was sent off for a second bookable offence before Villa fullback Antonio Luna grabbed a late third as the home fans left the ground muttering darkly about manager Arsene Wenger’s failure to add to his squad.
Sturridge put Liverpool ahead against Stoke with a firm 20-metre shot after 37 minutes and the hosts dominated a frenetic match, only to be denied a second by a brilliant goalkeeping display from Stoke’s Asmir Begovic.
The visitors threatened occasionally on the break and were awarded a penalty when Liverpool defender Daniel Agger needlessly handled a long Charlie Adam free-kick.
But Mignolet, who had endured a nervous debut, palmed away a weak effort from the spot by Jonathan Walters a minute from time to spark wild celebrations around the ground.
Norwich City and Everton drew 2-2 in an entertaining match at Carrow Road where, after a goalless first half, defender Steven Whittaker put the home side ahead before the visitors equalised with a superb shot by 19-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley.
Fulham won 1-0 at Sunderland thanks to a 52nd-minute header by midfielder Pajtim Kasami, his first goal for the club.