The hardest lessons were learned at Selhurst Park where Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace, back in the top flight after one season, 6-1. 'Our defending was horrific,' the Palace manager, Alan Smith, said. 'The goals were going in at will. I think our lads must have been listening to Terry Venables talk about his Christmas tree plan. We had the tree with all the presents on it.'
Talk of Arsenal's need for a new striker if they are to mount a meaningful Premiership challenge clearly did the trick. Kevin Campbell, the forward most under threat, struck after two minutes at Highbury, the first Premiership goal of the 1994-95 season, against Manchester City, who later had Uwe Rosler sent off for two bookable offences. The Gunners won comfortably. The other two Premiership players sent off were in Manchester United's 2-0 win over Queen's Park Rangers.
Last season's runners-up, Blackburn Rovers, had a shock at the Dell where Southampton's Nicky Banger gave Saints the lead. Rovers' new pounds 5m striker, Chris Sutton, missed a couple of first-half chances and Bruce Grobbelaar, on his debut in the Saints' goal, saved an Alan Shearer penalty and made oustanding saves before and after Shearer equalised. 'I thought Bruce was fantastic today,' his manager, Alan Ball, said. 'Everything he did was just what I brought him here for.'
Nottingham Forest returned to the Premiership beanfeast and beat Ipswich Town at Portman Road but manager Frank Clark didn't get carried away. 'Ipswich came at us all guns blazing in the second half. We kept a clean sheet but were lucky to do it.' the Dutch international, Bryan Roy, Forest's pounds 2.5m signing from Foggia, scored the only goal.
At Goodison Park, Everton were twice clawed back by Aston Villa whose manager, Ron Atkinson, paired Dean Saunders with new signing John Fashanu. Both scored. Atkinson took the clampdown in his jaunty stride. 'We have three yellow cards, all for ungentlemanly conduct and I can't believe that because our boys are all gentlemen,' he said.
Fashanu's former Crazy Gang comrades, Wimbledon, drew 1-1 at Coventry City after Dave Busst's late equaliser, his first goal for City. THe Chelsea new boy, Paul Furlong, scored the second goal which clinched their 2-0 defeat of Norwich City. 'I've been watching Paul for about 10 weeks,' contented manager Glenn Hoddle said. 'He has a very good temperament and gets on with the job.' The only Premiership game not to see a goal was at Upton Park, where West Ham might consider their draw with Leeds United a good result after a pre- season which has closely resembled a Feydeau farce. The Hammers were under pressure for most of the second half. 'It lasted two hours, didn't it?' their manager, Herry Redknapp, said. 'I was pleased to hear the whistle.' It'll blow again soon enough.