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Wayne Rooney provided a memorable backheel finish against Swansea to ease the pressure on Louis van Gaal and end Manchester United's run of eight matches without a win in all competitions. After failing to break the deadlock for the ninth first half in a row at Old Trafford, the hosts took the lead after 47 minutes when summer signing Anthony Martial powerfully headed home Ashley Young's inviting cross from the right-hand side.
Swansea, still under the temporary management of Alan Curtis as the club seek to appoint a permanent successor to Garry Monk, restored parity when Gylfi Sigurdsson applied the finishing touch to a delivery from substitute Modou Barrow. However, United were not to be denied and a low ball to the front post from Martial allowed Rooney to claim an important three points in stunning fashion.
Elsewhere on the first day of Premier League action in 2016, leaders Arsenal moved two points clear of Leicester courtesy of a somewhat fortuitous home win over Newcastle. The visitors tested Petr Cech on numerous occasions through the likes of Georginio Wijnaldum and Alexander Mitrovic also fired over from close range before Laurent Koscielny made them pay by stealing in beyond Ayoze Perez to score at the far post after a corner was not cleared.
The Foxes failed to score for a third game in succession as they were held to a goalless draw by Bournemouth in the east Midlands. Jamie Vardy struck a post in the first half and the England striker also won a penalty when he was felled by a sliding challenge from Simon Francis. The Cherries defender was dismissed for his trouble despite seemingly winning the ball, although Artur Boruc produced a smart one-handed save down to his left to deny Riyad Mahrez from 12 yards.
In the day's late kick-off, third-place Manchester City battled back from a one-goal deficit to see off the spirited challenge of Watford. Aleksandar Kolarov put Ben Watson's corner through his own net at Vicarage Road, but a late double from Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero - the latter scoring a fine header- produced an all too rare away victory for Manuel Pellegrini's men.
Liverpool's inconsistent run of form continued as they were soundly beaten by West Ham. Michail Antonio scored his second goal in as many weeks when he drifted in behind Nathaniel Clyne to convert Enner Valencia's cross, although the effort was marred in controversy as it came just 20 seconds after the winger appeared to foul Alberto Moreno at the other end of the pitch.
Making his 150th top-flight appearance, Andy Carroll secured the Hammers's first league double over his former club since 1964 with a trademark second-half header. Injury victim Manuel Lanzini and Emre Can both struck the woodwork.
At the bottom of the table, Sunderland claimed a valuable victory in a proverbial relegation six-pointer against rock-bottom Aston Villa. Patrick van Aanholt scored the opener via a heavy deflection off Micah Richards, while Carles Gil later notched a wonderful volleyed equaliser that owed much to a dazzling run from Adama Traore. The Black Cats were not to be denied, however, and opened up a seven-point gap on their opponents courtesy of a brace from Jermain Defoe.
Southampton had Victor Wanyama sent off for a second bookable offence just two minutes before Alexander Tettey netted a winner for Norwich at Carrow Road. Sadio Mane was dropped from the Saints' starting XI on disciplinary grounds after manager Ronald Koeman revealed before kick-off that the Senegalese international had been late for a team meeting.
Tony Pulis also saw his West Brom side claim a last-gasp triumph over former club Stoke when Jonny Evans finished from close range in the second minute of stoppage time. Jon Walters had earlier looked to have earned a point for the Potters, who lost Geoff Cameron to a straight red card following an altercation with Claudio Yacob, by cancelling out Stephane Sessegnon's opener.