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Monday, Sep. 19, 2011

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Firing blanks: Arsenal's Theo Walcott (left) vies for the ball against Blackburn's Chris Samba on Saturday at Ewood Park. Blackburn won 4-3. AP

Own goals, mistakes send Arsenal to loss

AP

LONDON — Arsenal crashed to a 4-3 defeat against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday despite leading the game twice in the first half, while all three promoted clubs had wins in the Premier League on the same day for the first time since February 2007.

Ayegbeni Yakubu hit two goals on his debut and Arsenal's hapless defense added two own goals as Blackburn registered its first win of the season to ramp up the pressure on Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.

Swansea romped past West Bromwich Albion with goals from Scott Sinclair, Leroy Lita and Nathan Dyer, while Joey Barton, Alejandro Faurlin and D.J. Campbell gave Queens Park Rangers a 3-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Norwich completed the trio of victories for the promoted clubs, Anthony Pilkington and Bradley Johnson getting first-half goals in a 2-1 win at Bolton. Martin Petrov cut the deficit with a 64th-minute penalty.

In other matches, Newcastle recovered to draw 1-1 at Aston Villa to preserve both sides' unbeaten starts to the season and Everton scored two late goals to beat Wigan 3-1.

Arsenal's troubled start to the season deepened despite goals from Gervinho in the 10th minute and Mikel Arteta in the 34th twice giving Arsene Wenger's team the lead.

Yakubu equalized in the 25th and an own goal from Alexander Song just after halftime pulled Blackburn level again as Arsenal's shaky defense self-destructed.

"It is terrible, it is just not good enough," Wenger said. "Of course we are very frustrated, the spirit in the team is quite willing but, if you look at the number of goals we have conceded, that is not good enough."

Yakubu added a third in the 59th and Laurent Koscielny became the second Arsenal player to put into his own net following Martin Olsson's burst down the right in the 69th.

"We had to press, we had to fight, and we played on the counterattack and I think our second-half performance shows what we've got in that dressing room which is 100 percent team spirit," manager Steve Kean said. "The boys are really working hard for each other and I'm delighted."

Several hundred Blackburn fans had demonstrated their dissatisfaction with Kean outside the ground before the match started, but the home side's win meant it was Wenger who was fielding questions about his job.

"Speculation is part of modern life, what can I do about that?" Wenger said. "My future is focusing on what I do well and that means giving my best for the club. I have no influence on the speculation."

Meanwhile, Norwich manager Paul Lambert made six changes to the side beaten by a single goal at home to West Bromwich Albion last weekend and was delighted with his side's 2-1 win at Bolton.

"I've never had a problem with confidence," Lambert said. "They seem to bounce back whether they draw or get beaten, and that is testament to the way they played today."

Bolton slipped to a fourth straight defeat after Pilkington's close-range finish in the 37th and Johnson's header in the 42nd gave the Canaries a two-goal lead at halftime.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle was disappointed both goals came from set pieces — a traditional strong suit for his team.

"To concede the two goals from set plays certainly wasn't good enough. We're all designated markers and we haven't done well enough in that department," he said. "It's not as if someone has beaten two or three players and hit it into the top corner — this was self-inflicted."

Ivan Klasnic complicated Bolton's task when he was sent off just after the break for an apparent headbutt on Marc Tierney — an action described by Coyle as "an act of folly."

QPR secured a 3-0 win over Wolves after new captain Joey Barton scored.

Barton steered the ball home in the eighth minute and Faurlin smashed the second from some 20 meters on the half-volley just two minutes later as QPR made a quick start.



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