Newcastle and Arsenal end the match goalless

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Arsenal new boy Gervinho was sent off as the Gunners prepared for life without Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri with a lacklustre English Premier League season-opening 0-0 draw at Newcastle on Saturday.

Ivorian striker Gervinho, signed for 10 million pounds from French champions Lille in July, was given his marching orders after raising his hands in an ugly confrontation with Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton on 76 minutes.

While the flashpoint will grab the headlines, it could not mask an uninspired display by Arsenal, who seemed bereft of ideas in the absence of Fabregas and Nasri, who were both absent pending their likely departure from the club.

Fabregas is expected to be unveiled as a Barcelona player next week, while France international Nasri is poised to join Manchester City.

The creative skills of both men were sorely missed by Arsenal, who struggled to create anything even remotely resembling a goalscoring chance.

Earlier Liverpool’s hopes of launching their English Premier League (EPL) season with a win ended in disappointment as the new-look Reds drew 1-1 against Sunderland.

Liverpool, who have spent more than 100 million pounds on rebuilding their squad since the turn of the year, looked to be on course for all three points after Luis Suarez headed them 1-0 up at Anfield after 12 minutes.

Suarez’s opener came after the Uruguayan international had missed a penalty on three minutes after Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson controversially escaped a red card for his foul on the South American forward.

But as the game wore on, Liverpool faded – with 20 million pound signing Jordan Henderson particularly disappointing – and Swedish international Sebastian Larsson levelled for the visitors with a spectacular volley on 57 minutes.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish had few complaints with the result but questioned referee Phil Dowd’s failure to send off Richardson in the penalty incident with Suarez.

“I think over the game, even though Pepe Reina only had to catch a couple of headers, for the effort and commitment they (Sunderland) put into the game, a draw was probably about right,” Dalglish said.

“Sunderland made it difficult for us, they worked really hard and I think they deserved a point.”

Dalglish was unhappy at Dowd’s decision to only caution Richardson after he had brought down Suarez when clean through.

“We don’t want to see anybody sent off, but we need to know where we stand and how they (referees) are going to implement the rules and the wording of them in the books,” he said.

In other opening round games on Saturday, Bolton gave newly promoted QPR a brutal introduction to life in the top flight with a 4-0 mauling at Loftus Road.

Gary Cahill curled in a 25-yard effort to put Bolton 1-0 up before a second-half own-goal from Rangers’ Danny Gabbidon doubled the visitors’ advantage.

Late goals from Ivan Klasnic and Fabrice Muamba completed the rout before Clint Hill was sent off for the home side late on to seal a wretched afternoon for Neil Warnock’s men.

But there was better news for another of the newly-promoted Championship teams as Norwich earned a point with a 1-1 draw at Wigan.

Wigan took the lead with a Ben Watson penalty on 21 minutes after Ritchie de Laet brought down Franco di Santo.

Norwich got back on level terms on the stroke of half-time when a dreadful blunder by Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi allowed Wes Hoolahan to rifle in from eight yards.

At Ewood Park, Wolves came from behind to defeat Blackburn 2-1.

Blackburn took the lead through a goal by debutant Mauro Formica on 20 minutes before Wolves levelled through a Steven Fletcher header moments later.

Wolves went ahead two minutes after the restart through Stephen Ward, volleying in on 47 minutes in the immediate aftermath of a missed penalty from Kevin Doyle.

In Saturday’s other early game, Fulham and Aston Villa ground out a 0-0 stalemate at Craven Cottage.

EPL Holders Manchester United launch their season at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday while Chelsea travel to Stoke. Manchester City kick off their season at home to Swansea on Monday.

English Premier League results:

Blackburn 1 Wolves 2
Fulham 0 Aston Villa 0
Liverpool 1 Sunderland 1
Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0
QPR 0 Bolton 4
Wigan 1 Norwich 1

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