Arsenal new boy Gervinho was sent off as the Gunners prepared for life without Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri with a lackluster season-opening 0-0 draw at Newcastle United on Saturday.
Ivorian striker Gervinho, signed for 10 million euros (US$14.2 million) from French champions LOSC Lille Metropole last month, was given his marching orders after raising his hands in an ugly confrontation with Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton in the 76th minute.
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.
Earlier Liverpool’s hopes of launching their Premier League 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 euros 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 in the third minute after Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson controversially escaped a red card for his foul on the South American forward.
However, as the game wore on, Liverpool faded and Swedish international Sebastian Larsson leveled for the visitors with a spectacular volley in the 57th minute.
In other games on Saturday, Bolton Wanderers gave newly promoted Queens Park Rangers a brutal introduction to the top flight with a 4-0 mauling at Loftus Road.
However, there was better news for another of the newly promoted Championship teams as Norwich City earned a point with a 1-1 draw at Wigan Athletic.
Wigan took the lead with a Ben Watson penalty in the 21st minute after Ritchie de Laet brought down Franco di Santo.
Norwich got back on level terms on the stroke of halftime when a dreadful blunder by Wigan goalkeeper Ali al-Habsi allowed Wes Hoolahan to rifle in from eight yards.
At Ewood Park, Wolverhampton Wanderers came from behind to defeat Blackburn Rovers 2-1.
In Saturday’s other early game, Fulham and Aston Villa ground out a 0-0 stalemate at Craven Cottage.