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BPL: Aston Villa stuns Arsenal in Premier League opener

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The Canadian Press
8/17/2013 12:15:37 PM
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MANCHESTER, England -- Aston Villa compounded the simmering frustration at Arsenal by winning 3-1 at Emirates Stadium on Saturday while Liverpool rode its luck to also start the new Premier League season with a victory.

Christian Benteke scored twice as Villa came from behind to beat Arsenal, which was booed off by home fans already aggrieved at manager Arsene Wenger's failure to strengthen the squad in the summer transfer window.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez -- Arsenal's main target in the off-season -- was in the stands because of suspension as his team defeated Stoke 1-0 thanks to Daniel Sturridge's 37th-minute goal, although it needed debutant Simon Mignolet's late penalty save to preserve the lead.

West Ham, Southampton and Fulham also started with wins, while Norwich drew 2-2 with Everton after Ricky van Wolfswinkel's equalizer on his competitive debut.

Manchester United begins the defence of its title at Swansea later Saturday, with unsettled striker Wayne Rooney starting on the bench.

It's a case of new season, same old story for Arsenal, whose defensive shortcomings were capped by centre back Laurent Koscielny's second-half sending-off for two yellow cards.

Wenger's team is unlikely to be challenging for the title this season unless the club, which is awash with cash, can recruit some marquee names to add to a squad that the French manager acknowledged on Friday was threadbare.

Wenger was hit with chants including "You don't know what you're doing" and "Spend some (expletive) money" minutes before the final whistle.

Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal the lead in the sixth minute but Benteke, who withdrew a transfer request over the summer, equalized in the 22nd when he headed home a rebound after his penalty was saved by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The Belgium striker then converted a 66th-minute penalty following Koscielny's clumsy foul on Gabriel Agbonlahor, earning the defender a first yellow card, and debutant Antonio Luna sealed the points in the 85th for Villa by racing clear on the break to score in the bottom corner.

It was a much more positive start to the campaign by Liverpool, who dominated against Stoke but only had Sturridge's 25-yard strike to show for its efforts.

That profligacy almost cost them when Daniel Agger handballed in the area in the 88th minute but Mignolet ended a nervy debut by clawing away Jon Walters' spot kick and then denying Kenwyne Jones' effort on the rebound.

Suarez, who was serving the fifth match of a 10-game ban for biting an opponent last season, was cheered by some fans as he walked the perimeter of the Anfield pitch with his daughter before kickoff despite an off-season dominated by transfer speculation surrounding the striker.

The scorer of England's winner over Scotland on Wednesday on his international debut, Rickie Lambert completed the perfect week by converting a last-minute penalty for Southampton in a 1-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.

Goals either side of the break by Joe Cole and Kevin Nolan were enough for West Ham in a 2-0 home win over promoted Cardiff and Pajtim Kasami grabbed a 52nd-minute winner for Fulham in a 1-0 victory at Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland.

Norwich went ahead at Carrow Road through Steven Whittaker before goals by Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman in a five-minute span gave Everton the lead by the 65th minute. Van Wolfswinkel levelled in the 71st.

Christian Benteke (Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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