NEWS
08/13/2011 01:22 EDT | Updated 10/13/2011 05:12 EDT

Arsenal and Liverpool open English Premier League season with draws: QPR routed

LONDON - Arsenal and Liverpool each opened the English Premier League season on Saturday with disappointing draws.

With neither Cesc Fabregas or Samir Nasri in the lineup, the Gunners failed to score against Newcastle and drew 0-0.

Ivory Coast forward Gervinho made his competitive debut for Arsenal but failed to score and was sent off with 14 minutes remaining when he slapped Joey Barton, who accused Gervinho of diving inside the area.

Liverpool led Sunderland at Anfield through Luis Suarez's 12th-minute goal but the Uruguay striker also missed a penalty and Sebastian Larsson equalized in the 57th to clinch a 1-1 draw.

"I think over the game a draw was probably about right," Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said.

Defending champion Manchester United and 2010 champion Chelsea can take an early edge over their regular top-four rivals when they play their first games on Sunday.

Queens Park Rangers' topflight return after a 15-year absence began on Saturday with a 4-0 home defeat against Bolton on the opening day of the season.

With the apparently Barcelona-bound Fabregas missing — and Nasri left out amid rumours he is about to join Manchester City — Arsenal rarely threatened to score.

Theo Walcott almost won the game for Arsenal within three minutes of going on as a 61st-minute substitute, but goalkeeper Tim Krul saved his goal-bound effort.

Barton started the match despite being made to train alone and made available for transfer after criticizing Newcastle's continued sale of its top players.

Dalglish started the season as Liverpool manager for the first time since 1990 and picked new signings Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jose Enrique to start.

Suarez put an early penalty over the bar after he had been fouled in the area by Kieran Richardson but a bright start by Liverpool's much-changed side continued when Suarez headed in Adam's free kick.

However, the Reds failed to capitalize on their domination and Larsson volleyed in Ahmed Elmohamady's right-wing cross to clinch an unlikely draw.

United opens its title defence at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, when Chelsea is at Stoke.

QPR contributed an own goal, lost new signing Kieron Dyer to a foot injury and had defender Clint Hill sent off in injury time.

"It was disappointing how we capitulated at 2-0 and we are going to have to learn lessons quickly," QPR manager Neil Warnock said. "We defended poorly and got punished, which is what happens in the Premier League."

QPR lost Dyer, the former England winger signed on a free transfer from West Ham, early on when he fell awkwardly and Bolton took the lead moments before halftime when central defender Gary Cahill scored with a curling shot.

Debut-making defender Danny Gabbidon scored an own-goal in the 67th, Ivan Klasnic scored with a deflected shot in the 70th and Fabrice Muamba rounded off a swift counterattack with 11 minutes remaining.

Hill was sent off for pushing his head into Martin Petrov's chest.

Newly promoted Norwich drew 1-1 at Wigan, Aston Villa drew 0-0 at Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers won 2-1 at Blackburn.

Midfielder Wes Hoolahan scored a 45th-minute equalizer for Norwich at Wigan, which had led through Ben Watson's early penalty, and Wolves rallied at Blackburn through goals by Steven Fletcher and Stephen Ward.