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Arsenal Wins to Open Title Defense

August 18, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ Arsenal opened defense of its Premier League title by beating Birmingham City 2-0 Sunday for a record 14th straight victory.

Arsenal ended last season with 13 straight league wins and a 21-game unbeaten streak.

Birmingham, promoted from the first division, was playing its first Premier League game in 16 years and had Senegal’s Aliou Cisse ejected in the 73rd minute.

Thierry Henry put Arsenal up 1-0 in the ninth minute with a curling free kick helped into the net by Birmingham goalkeeper Nico Vaesen. Sylvain Wiltord made it 2-0 15 minutes later.

Also Sunday, Liverpool beat Aston Villa 1-0 on John Arne Riise’s goal. Liverpool finished second last season.

In Saturday’s action, Manchester United edged West Bromwich Albion 1-0, while other results in openers were: Blackburn 0, Sunderland 0; Charlton 2, Chelsea 3; Fulham 4, Bolton 1; Southampton 0, Middlesbrough 0, Leeds 3, Manchester City 0; Everton 2, Tottenham 2.

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