LONDON — Brendan Rodgers endured a sorry Premier League start as Liverpool boss with a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the season Saturday while Arsenal, without Robin van Persie, was held 0-0 by Sunderland.
A Zoltan Gera cracker, Peter Odemwingie’s penalty after Daniel Agger had been sent off, and Romelu Lukaku’s header left former Swansea City manager Rodgers frustrated as Liverpool fans sang the name of sacked predecessor Kenny Dalglish.
Swansea showed it has got over the loss of Rodgers as Michael Laudrup’s new side thumped Queens Park Rangers 5-0 away with Spanish close-season signing Michu scoring twice.
Mladen Petric also enjoyed a dream debut with a brace in Fulham’s 5-0 home triumph over Norwich City, while West Ham United’s return to the top flight was marked by a 1-0 win over Aston Villa as fellow new boys Reading drew 1-1 with Stoke City.
While Gera’s strike was an early contender for goal of the season, Odemwingie’s spot kick arrived just three minutes after one had been missed by Shane Long - the foul on the Irishman earning Liverpool defender Daniel Agger a red card.
Substitute Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, added gloss with a goal on his debut as Clarke, assistant to Kenny Dalglish at Anfield last season, gained revenge for his close-season sacking.
It was a humbling start for former Swansea boss Rodgers, who had handed Joe Allen his Reds debut, as the Northern Irishman discovered the full extent of the task awaiting him at Liverpool.
A fairly even first half had seen Luis Suarez twice denied well by Ben Foster in the Baggies goal, while Long threatened with an audacious lob over the bar after outmuscling Lucas.
Some jeers rang out around Emirates Stadium after the final whistle, a day after Van Persie completed his move to rival Manchester United. And after the frustrating draw, Arsenal announced another key player was leaving, with midfielder Alex Song joining Barcelona for $23.4 million.
Strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, who were signed to fill the void left by Van Persie, squandered their few chances.
“The few chances we had we couldn’t convert them ... they defended the whole game very well,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We lacked something I would call sharpness and quality, and more accuracy in the final pass.
“The formation didn’t work with three strikers up front. We were not balanced and we did not create enough.”
Despite Arsenal overwhelming Sunderland, Podolski struggled for service up front as another new signing, midfielder Santi Cazorla, was more of a danger in front of goal.
“I will not deny we lost a world-class player who is very difficult to replace,” Wenger said of van Persie. “Podolski is not ready yet physically, he lacks the change of pace ... maybe we needed one more creative player and to be more accurate in the final third.”
Ross County ties Celtic
Celtic stumbled in the second match of its Scottish title defense Saturday, salvaging a 1-1 draw at Ross County.
Kris Commons netted in the fifth minute of stoppage time, pouncing to tap the ball into the net from close range after County goalkeeper Michael Fraser had spilled a shot from Tony Watt.
Scottish Premier League newcomer County had taken the lead four minutes into the second half when Richard Brittain fired a free kick high past goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Celtic won its opening match of the season last weekend. — Agencies