EPL review: Given, Ward & Hoolahan impress

The Premiership season opened with Manchester United starting the campaign as they ended the last; with three points. Goals from Wayne Rooney and an o.g. from former Irish international Steven Reid saw United beat WBA at the Hawthorn’s with Ashley Young impressing on his premiership debut for the Red Devils.

Young’s 81st minute shot deflected off Reid to hand the defending Champion’s the win and ruin Shane Long’s return to the premiership. The former Reading striker equalised Rooney’s opener when his speculative shot beat debutant David de Gea.

Long played 87 minutes before been replaced by his international team mate Simon Cox, who was booked in his couple of minutes on the field.

With Manchester City not in action till Monday night and Spurs tie with Everton cancelled, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were the only member of the top six to win in round one and they have set the marker down for the new season in typical fashion.

Meanwhile the early Sunday kick off saw Andre Villas Boas get a firsthand taste of how just different Portuguese football is to English as his Chelsea side opened the season with a hard fought 0-0 draw with Stoke.

Irish quartet Marc Wilson, Rory Delap, Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters all started for Stoke with Wilson and Whelan lucky to escape without penalties after tackles in the penalty box much to the relief of the home crowd.

One of the positives for Villas Boas was the performance of Fernando Torres who looked lively and eager to get on the ball.

On Saturday a much hyped Liverpool side faltered to deceive in a Jekyll and Hyde 90 minutes at Anfield.

A lively home performance in the opening 45 minutes saw Luiz Suarez blast a penalty over before heading home the opener as Liverpool looked comfortable however Sunderland, minus John O’Shea and with Keiren Westwood on the bench, improved in the second half and rescued a point through Sebastian Larsson’s fine volley.

It was a bitter sweet day for Kevin Doyle at Ewood as the Irish international back in action after missing the friendly with Croatia missed a penalty in Wolves 2-1 win over Blackburn. However the Wexford native’s blushes were saved when Stephen Ward got on the end of the rebound to fire Wolves to a valuable three points.

Stephen Hunt joined Doyle and Ward in the starting line with Kevin Foley settling for a place on the bench, joining the action with 4 minutes of the second half gone.

Shay Given enjoyed a clean sheet on his debut as Aston Villa and Fulham enjoyed an opening day stalemate at Craven Cottage. Given with Richard Dunne in front of him put in a man of the match performance pulling off a couple of important saves, most notably from Bobby Zamora.

Ciaran Clarke came on for the final minute of normal time with Stephen Ireland unused while Damian Duff started on the right of midfield in Martin Jol’s first premiership match in four years.

For newly promoted duo Paddy Kenny and Wes Hoolahan it was a mixed day, Kenny’s QPR went down 4-0 to Bolton, who top the first table of the season, while former Shelbourne star Hoolahan rescued a point for Norwich in their 1-1 draw with James McCarthy’s Wigan. The former Blackpool midfielder was first to react when Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi spilled the ball. Conor Sammon played the final 37 minutes for Roberto Martinez Wigan side.

Leon Best, who vowed to stay and fight for his place at Newcastle, played the final 17 minutes as the magpies drew 0-0 with Arsenal at St James Park.

Weekend to remember for:

Shay Given, Stephen Ward and Wes Hoolahan: Given for his man of the match performance for Villa with Ward and Hoolahan included for scoring crucial goals.

Weekend to forget for:

Paddy Kenny: A hard welcome return for the former Sheffield United keeper, to conceded four goals at home against a hardly prolific Bolton does not bode well for the coming season.


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