West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola got off to a winning start as fellow Italian new boy David Di Michele scored twice in a 3-1 home Premier League victory over a ragged Newcastle United.
|David Di Michele and Mark Noble toast a good day's work [GALLO/GETTY]
Liverpool, who beat Manchester United in their last league outing, spent almost the entire afternoon on the attack against Stoke City at Anfield but, a disallowed Steven Gerrard goal apart, could not break down the promoted side's defence in a goalless draw.
Liverpool still top the standings on 11 points but Arsenal, who play at Bolton Wanderers later on Saturday and Chelsea, who host Manchester United on Sunday, could both go above them with wins.
In Saturday's other games Michael Chopra came off the bench to score twice as Sunderland beat Middlesbrough 2-0 and Blackburn Rovers beat Fulham 1-0 with a late goal by Matt Derbyshire.
Zola took over at West Ham from Alan Curbishley, who resigned in frustration at the intervention of the club's board on transfer dealings.
But it was the last piece of business Curbishley did, bringing in Di Michele on a year's loan from Torino on transfer deadline day, that made the difference at Upton Park.
The striker put West Ham ahead with a deflected shot then slotted the second before half time and set up Matthew Etherington for the third early in the second half.
Newcastle, without a manager and with their fans furious with owner Mike Ashley, pulled one back through Michael Owen but they were well beaten.
"Fantastic, I couldn't have asked for more than that," Zola told Sky Sports News.
"It means a lot, the players worked very hard this week."
At Anfield Steven Gerrard thought he had scored his 100th goal for Liverpool after two minutes but, amid some confusion, his free kick was ruled out and they never got as close again.
Liverpool were on the attack for most of the match but promoted Stoke, beaten 8-0 on their last visit to Anfield in 2000, held out for their first away point of the season.
Downing pays price
Two late goals for substitute Michael Chopra punished Middlesbrough for Stewart Downing's penalty miss at the Stadium of Light.
|Michael Chopra bags a brace and sucks his thumb [GALLO/GETTY]
The England midfielder blasted a spot kick over the bar at 0-0 after 75 minutes and six minutes later Chopra slid Sunderland ahead, adding the second in stoppage time.
In Lancashire, a game that looked destined for a goalless draw was settled in Blackburn's favour six minutes from time.
Substitute Matt Derbyshire latched onto Roque Santa Cruz's header back across goal to score from close range and seal a much-needed win for new manager Paul Ince.
Four other games on Sunday feature teams involved in UEFA Cup action last Thursday.
Everton travel to Hull, Manchester City host Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur look for their first league win of the season against Wigan Athletic at White Hart Lane, while a Midlands derby sees West Bromwich Albion face Aston Villa at the Hawthorns.