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Blackpool rocks after thrilling opening ride

Blackpool astounded millions with their dream start to life in the Premier League -- leaving even number-one fan and club great Jimmy Armfield pinching himself after the 4-0 win at Wigan.

On an opening day of the season which witnessed a chastening experience for Blackpool's fellow Championship graduates West Brom -- 6-0 away to title-holders Chelsea -- the Tangerines delivered a statement of intent, that they have no intention of returning easily from whence they came.

Former England captain Armfield can scarcely believe the progress his old club have made over the past decade, and most recently under the management of Ian Holloway -- even before goals from Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Marlon Harewood (2) and Alex Baptiste overwhelmed Wigan on Saturday.

"If someone had asked me 10 years ago, I would have said it was impossible for Blackpool to enjoy those times again," he said.

"We were in the bottom division for half-a-century, getting crowds of 2,000.

"What has happened over the past few months has come as a surprise to everyone. Even in March, after a draw with Crystal Palace, I thought that was it -- and at least we had established ourselves in the Championship.

"But we went on an incredible run at the end of the season, enjoyed a dream day at Wembley in the play-off final -- and after yesterday, you would have to say the dream is continuing."

Manchester City -- who have spent £100m and counting so far this summer, had only a 0-0 stalemate to show for it at Tottenham.

They had their England goalkeeper Joe Hart to thank for keeping them in the match on several occasions, leaving last season's City number-one Shay Given in limbo.

Hart, however, has the greatest respect for a colleague whose days at Eastlands may be numbered.

"It's not my business, it's Shay's business. He's an experienced guy who's been in football for years, so he'll know what to do," said the man who spent last season on loan at Birmingham.

"I can't speak highly enough of the guy.

"He's an inspiration goalkeeper-wise -- and as a person, he's great, someone I really look up to and someone I really respect.

"He's been different class, and I'm sure, whether it's here or somewhere else, he'll come again and show what a fine goalkeeper he is."

Managerless Aston Villa proved their resilience, following Martin O'Neill's shock resignation last week -- coasting to a 3-0 win at home to West Ham.

Goals from Stewart Downing, Stiliyan Petrov and James Milner -- still apparently on the verge of a big-money move to Manchester City -- did the trick.

Afterwards, captain Petrov urged his club to appoint caretaker Kevin MacDonald as O'Neill's permanent successor. "The way he prepared us for the game showed us that he wants to hold on to that job -- and I hope we can help him take that job," said Petrov.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Birmingham fought back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw against 10-man Sunderland -- who had captain Lee Cattermole sent off at the end of the first half after a second booking.

Striker Nikola Kalinic capitalised on an error by Tim Howard, who dropped a routine cross, to secure Blackburn a 1-0 home victory against Everton at Ewood Park -- and a superb goal from David Jones helped Wolves to a 2-1 win over Stoke at Molineux.

Mark Hughes' first match as Fulham manager finished in a goalless draw at Bolton.