For A Moment We Were Top Of The Premiership

21 August 2011 12:04
Any manager will tell you: "It's not how you start the season - it's how you finish". But for one brief spell on Saturday afternoon, we looked down on the rest of the Premiership. Aston Villa 3 Blackburn 1Arsenal 0 Liverpool 2Chelsea 2 West Brom 1Sunderland 0 Newcastle 1Everton 0 QPR 1Swansea 0 Wigan 0 With a noon kick-off, we were one step ahead of the pack, and Ryan Taylor fired the Magpies to a 1-0 victory at Sunderland with a superb free-kick and to the top of the league. The former Wigan man curled his 62nd-minute effort over goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to win a hard-fought encounter. Tim Krul and Mignolet had both earlier made fine saves, but the visitors were denied a clear 14th-minute penalty when Sebastian Larsson handled Joey Barton's header on the line. Liverpool recorded their first away win over Arsenal since 2000 to leapfrog over Newcastle to the top of the league. The Reds heaped more misery on the Gunners - who saw Emmanuel Frimpong sent off and lost centre-back Laurent Koscielny to injury in a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Samir Nasri, who has been linked with a move to Manchester City, impressed for the Gunners but the home side's luck was out after Aaron Ramsey's own goal and a last-minute strike from substitute Luis Suarez handed the visitors victory. Arsene Wenger - who now has half his first-choice team out because of suspension or injury - must regroup his squad for next week's crucial Champions League play-off second leg in Udinese and the small matter of a trip to Manchester United. Florent Malouda spared Andre Villas-Boas' blushes on his home debut as Chelsea manager with a late winner as the Blues beat West Brom 2-1. Malouda lost his place in the starting line-up but was introduced in the first half and came to the rescue by converting Jose Bosingwa's cross with seven minutes remaining. Villas-Boas had been heading for his first league defeat for more than 16 months when Shane Long continued his dream start to life at Albion by giving them a half-time lead but Nicolas Anelka equalised with a deflected shot before Malouda pounced. At Villa Park, Gabriel Agbonlahor scored his 50th Premier League goal for Aston Villa as they beat Blackburn 3-1 to move to the top of the table. With Alex McLeish taking charge of a home match for the first time, Agbonlahor gave him the perfect start when he drifted in off the left with 12 minutes gone and gave Paul Robinson no chance from 18 yards. Emile Heskey made it two from the edge of the box with 25 minute gone and, although Morten Gamst Pedersen's header pulled one back (52), Darren Bent wrapped up the win with 23 minutes left, slotting home after Stiliyan Petrov's shot was blocked by Ryan Nelsen and fell kindly too him. QPR recorded their first win back in the Premier League as they came away from Everton with a 1-0 victory. Neil Warnock's men, who were thrashed 4-0 at home to Bolton last weekend, came away from Goodison Park with maximum points thanks to Tommy Smith's 31st-minute goal. The closest the home side came to scoring was when Leighton Baines hit the bar with a first-half free-kick. The first Premier League game to be played in Wales ended goalless between Swansea and Wigan. Goalkeeper Michael Vorm was the hero for the home side, saving Ben Watson's 73rd-minute penalty after Ashley Williams had felled Jordi Gomez. Victor Moses and Ben Watson also hit the woodwork for the visitors, who have drawn their first two games, while the point is Swansea's first in the top flight.