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Arsenal Up And Running, But Reality Bites For Luton

  • 3 min read

Arsenal got their Premier League campaign off to a winning start but were given a late fright by Nottingham Forest while Luton Town’s return to the top flight went flat as they crashed to a heavy defeat away to Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Champions Manchester City, bidding for a fourth successive title, had sounded a familiar tone the day before with a 3-0 stroll at Burnley and although Arsenal followed suit with a win of their own, they were made to sweat.

Everton, who escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, lost 1-0 at home to Fulham while Crystal Palace earned a 1-0 victory at promoted Sheffield United.

West Ham United drew 1-1 at Bournemouth.

Arsenal’s home game was delayed for half an hour because of problems with the ticketing system but once they got going there were few gremlins on the pitch as summer signings Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber all started.

Eddie Nketiah gave the Gunners the lead in the 26th minute before Bukayo Saka found the top corner with a curler from outside the penalty area to put the hosts in cruise control.

But Forest grabbed a goal back in the 83rd minute through Taiwo Awoniyi and pressed for an unlikely point.

Arsenal, who spent 248 days on top of the table last season before collapsing under City’s relentless charge, avoided any more hiccups but their victory came at a cost with Timber going off injured with a calf problem.

“Welcome to the Premier League!” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said of the anxious finish. “We were super dominant, we deserved to win the game, but when we are 2-0 up and you have some chances to kill the game we didn’t.

“Running the clock down, in this league, that’s a very dangerous thing to do but overall I’m very happy.”

Luton’s return to the top flight after 31 years, a period in which they dropped out of the Football League, is regarded as a modern-day fairytale. But reality bit at Brighton.

Solly March gave Brighton a halftime lead before new signing Joao Pedro converted a second-half penalty for the hosts.

Carlton Morris pulled one back for Luton, also from the spot, before late goals from substitutes Simon Adingra and Evan Ferguson reflected the home side’s dominance.

Bobby De Cordova-Reid led a smash and grab for Fulham at Goodison Park against a wasteful Everton.

He netted after 73 minutes with a tap-in at the back post after excellent work from Andreas Pereira, one of only two shots on target for the visitors.

Everton struck the crossbar and had a goal disallowed in controversial circumstances when Michael Keane scored but referee Stuart Attwell disallowed it for a perceived foul by James Tarkowski on goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

“I’m very disappointed in the fact that we didn’t win the game, or certainly get a point, from a very dominant chance count, and high-quality chances at that,” Everton manager Sean Dyche told the BBC.

West Ham were denied victory at Bournemouth by Dominic Solanke, a player they have pursued in the transfer market.

Jarrod Bowen gave the Hammers the lead with a stunning curled effort just after the interval but Solanke ensured that new manager Andoni Iraola did not start with a loss.

Sheffield United’s defeat by Palace completed a poor opening weekend for the promoted clubs after Burnley’s loss on Friday.

A second-half strike from Odsonne Edouard was enough to earn Palace the points.

Newcastle United, who finished fourth last season, were hosting Aston Villa in the late kickoff.