LONDON - Arsenal lit up the opening day of the Premier League season with a 6-1 demolition of Everton and Didier Drogba struck in stoppage time to give Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti a winning start on Saturday. Big-spending Manchester City won 2-0 at Blackburn Rovers and six of the eight fixtures produced away victories but Arsenal's rout at Goodison Park against a side that finished fifth last season was the standout result. Arsenal midfielder Denilson began the football lesson and defenders Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas were also on target before the break. Captain Cesc Fabregas bagged two in the second half and Eduardo chipped in with a sixth before Louis Saha earned Everton a crumb of consolation. "You have to accept that one game is only one game, what is important is that we have the desire and believe in our qualities," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told the BBC. "Everybody in our team can score goals and everybody likes to go forward so when things go for us like today, anyone can score." Manchester City, tipped to challenge Arsenal for a top-four place, paraded their expensive signings at Blackburn and striker Emmanuel Adebayor capped his debut with a goal after just three minutes. Stephen Ireland grabbed a late second. Burnley's top-flight return went flat as they slumped 2-0 at Stoke City, fellow new boys Wolverhampton Wanderers lost 2-0 at home to West Ham United and Darren Bent scored on his debut to give Sunderland a 1-0 win at Bolton Wanderers. Roberto Martinez, making his debut as a Premier League manager, watched his Wigan Athletic side win 2-0 at Aston Villa and Fulham triumphed 1-0 at Portsmouth. Drogba's double earned Chelsea a 2-1 home win over Hull City after the visitors had taken a shock early lead. An opening fixture against Hull, who won just one of their last 22 league games last season, looked like a comfortable introduction to English football for Ancelotti but the Italian was given an early taste of what to expect. For much of the first half his diamond midfield formation lacked sparkle and after a shaky start, Hull more than matched Chelsea. HUNT BOOED Hull's new signing Stephen Hunt, booed throughout by Chelsea fans because of a tackle that left goalkeeper Petr Cech with a fractured skull in 2006 when the Irishman played for Reading, silenced the crowd after 28 minutes. Chelsea had received a couple of wake-up calls when George Boateng's shot deflected off John Obi Mikel and fell to debutant Hunt to score from 10 metres. Thankfully for Ancelotti, Drogba sent a dipping free kick into the net before any murmurs of discontent were heard around the Bridge. Ancelotti replaced Mikel with the more forceful Michael Ballack at halftime and the hosts pummelled Hull in the second period. However, it looked like being a frustrating day until the 31-year-old Drogba took possession of the ball on the left hand edge of the penalty area two minutes into stoppage time and from a seemingly impossible angle chipped the ball into the net."I was a bit lucky to score," Drogba told BBC Radio Five. "It was a cross for Salomon Kalou." Champions Manchester United begin their quest for a fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday when they face promoted Birmingham City while Liverpool, runners-up last season, travel to Tottenham Hotspur.
15 August 2009
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