MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Liverpool and Arsenal relied on goals from their in-form strikers to secure 1-0 home wins over their biggest rivals yesterday, handing Manchester United and Tottenham their first defeats of the Premier League season.
England international Daniel Sturridge flicked home a fourth-minute header from close range on his 24th birthday in Liverpool's gritty victory over United at Anfield, putting his team top of the standings on a maximum nine points.
France striker Olivier Giroud also grabbed his third goal in as many games, settling the north London derby at Emirates Stadium against a Tottenham side that has spent more than £100 million this summer but still hasn't scored in open play.
Swansea claimed their first points of the campaign in yesterday's other game, beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 thanks to goals by Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez.
The English league may be only three weeks old, but it is still strange to see United not in the division's top four.
After drawing 0-0 with Chelsea on Monday and then losing to Liverpool, the reigning champions have four points from a possible nine under new manager David Moyes. Failing to score in two straight games is unusual for United, and it didn't help that Wayne Rooney was unavailable yesterday after cutting his forehead in an accidental training-ground collision with a teammate.
United's scoring woes prompted one of the club's most famous fans, Usain Bolt, to post a short video on social-networking site Instagram, imploring Moyes to sign "a creative midfielder, one that can pass and create opportunities, right now."
It's all positives at Liverpool, though.
For the first time since the 1993-94 season, the team has won its first three league matches - all of them 1-0 and all of them secured by Sturridge. He is proving a more-than-able fill-in for Luis Suarez, who remains out of action through suspension for biting an opponent last season.
Sturridge played through the pain barrier against United after injuring his thigh in a midweek League Cup win over Notts County, but showed great movement to lose his markers at a corner and flick a header into the net from close range after Daniel Agger met Steven Gerrard's outswinging corner.
"He was nowhere near fit today," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said of Sturridge. "But even at 70 per cent, he'll be as good, if not better, than a lot of Premier League strikers."
Liverpool's defence held firm in a second half that United dominated possession-wise but in which it failed to seriously test goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who kept a third straight clean sheet.
Like Sturridge, Giroud has started the season in impressive style, scoring in four of Arsenal's five matches in all competitions and in all three league games.
His winner against Tottenham came in the 23rd minute, meeting Theo Walcott's low cross with a glancing finish in at the near post.
"Everybody knows it's a big game for us, and the fans are really excited about this time of the year as well," Giroud said. "We wanted to keep it up after our three wins (over Fulham in the league and then two over Fenerbahce in the Champions League playoffs) ... We never gave up and we showed a real togetherness."
On the day that Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid was finally completed, Tottenham's performance showed that the players recruited with the money from the Welshman's transfer still need time to blend in. Penalties from Roberto Soldado in 1-0 wins over Crystal Palace and Swansea in their opening two games remain their only goals this campaign.
Erik Lamela, signed from Roma this week, came on as a second-half substitute but another summer signing - France midfielder Etienne Capoue - had left the field by then after twisting his left fibula.
Arsenal joined Tottenham on six points and are fourth in the fledgling table, behind Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.
CARDIFF CITY 0 EVERTON 0
GOAL : NONE.
Everton had to settle for a point in a hard-fought game against Cardiff, as Roberto Martinez's wait for a first league win as Toffees boss continued. The visitors wanted a penalty when Gary Medel brought down Leighton Baines but the referee waved play on. Kevin Mirallas missed two good chances and Cardiff keeper David Marshall kept out a deflected Nikica Jelavic header.
CRYSTAL PALACE 3 SUNDERLAND 1
GOALS: PALACE: GABBIDON 9; GAYLE 79 PEN; O'KEEFE 90. SUNDERLAND: FLETCHER 64.
Two late goals handed Crystal Palace their first Premier League win of the season as Sunderland's poor start to the campaign continued. Danny Gabbidon gave Palace an early lead from close range, before Steven Fletcher levelled for the visitors with a header after the break. Dwight Gayle made it 2-1 from the spot after he had been brought down by John O'Shea, who was shown a straight red. Stuart O'Keefe sealed victory with a great strike from the edge of the area.
MANCHESTER CITY 2 HULL CITY 0
GOALS: MANCHESTER CITY: NEGREDO 65; TOURE 90.
Manchester City returned to winning ways after the 3-2 loss at Cardiff, eventually overcoming Hull City at Etihad Stadium, but this was a far from convincing performance by the hosts. Substitute Alvaro Negredo headed home just after the hour mark before Yaya Toure curled in a delightful late free kick.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 FULHAM 0
GOAL : NEWCASTLE: BEN ARFA 86.
Hatem Ben Arfa's late strike against Fulham ended Newcastle's run of four home games without a goal and secured their first league win of the season. Both teams struggled early on but the hosts improved after the hour mark when Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy came on and Papiss Cisse headed against the bar. Adel Taarabt's effort was saved by Tim Krul in an isolated Fulham attack. But Ben Arfa won it with four minutes left, cutting in from the right and curling superbly into the top corner.
NORWICH CITY 1 SOUTHAMPTON 0
GOAL: NORWICH: REDMOND 68.
Teenager Nathan Redmond's first Premier League goal gave Norwich victory over Southampton at Arrow Road. Redmond, 19, scored the winner when he cut in from the left wing, created some space and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Artur Boruc from 20 yards. Southampton had earlier had a strong penalty appeal turned down and captain Adam Lallana was unlucky to hit the post with a fine left-footed volley.
WEST HAM UNITED 0 STOKE CITY 1
GOAL : WEST HAM: PENNANT 82.
Jermaine Pennant's brilliant free kick eight minutes from time gave Stoke the win against a lacklustre West Ham. The substitute's curled effort was enough to give Mark Hughes's side their second consecutive Premier League win. Jussi Jaaskelainen had kept Stoke at bay with a fine double-save in the first half but could do nothing about Pennant's effort as his side conceded their first league goal of the season.
ARSENAL 1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0
GOAL: ARSENAL: GIROUD 23.
Arsenal continued their fine home record against Tottenham by handing their north London rivals a first defeat of the season. Olivier Giroud scored his fourth goal this term when he tucked in Theo Walcott's low cross at the near post. Andros Townsend had a shot saved in an open start, while Hugo Lloris denied Giroud and Walcott after the break.
LIVERPOOL 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 0
GOAL : STURRIDGE 4.
Liverpool secured their best start to a Barclays Premier League season since 1994-95 with victory over champions Manchester United at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge celebrated his 24th birthday with his third successive winner of the season by steering in a close-range header in the third minute. Liverpool deserved their latest single-goal victory, a result that also maintained new United Manager David Moyes' miserable record at Anfield.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0 SWANSEA CITY 2
GOALS: SWANSEA: DAVIES 22; PABLO 83
A goal in each half from Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez secured Swansea's first Premier League win of the season, while West Brom have yet to find the target. Davies scored only his second-ever goal for the Swans with a thunderous volley, before Hernandez netted his first for the club from close range. The returning Nicolas Anelka went closest for the hosts before the break.