Saturday, August 20, 2011

Arsenal 0 - 2 Liverpool

Liverpool struck twice late on to secure their first league win at Arsenal for 11 years and increase Arsene Wenger's troubles.
Arsenal - featuring Samir Nasri in the line-up with his proposed move to Manchester City on hold - held their own until impressive youngster Emmanuel Frimpong was sent off with 20 minutes left.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish reacted by introducing Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles in what proved to be the decisive move, as the pair were involved in both goals.
They combined before youngster Ignasi Miquel, on for early injury victim Laurent Koscielny, saw a clearance deflect off Aaron Ramsey into his own net after 78 minutes and Suarez applied a simple finish from Meireles's pass in the dying seconds to wrap up Liverpool's first win of the season.
Gunners boss Wenger cut a frustrated figure as luck deserted an Arsenal side depleted by injuries and suspension, and still recovering from Monday's departure of captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona.
Arsenal applied plenty of effort but look desperately thin on rescources, something Wenger must address urgently, whereas Dalglish was able to bide his time before bringing on Suarez to make an emphatic impact.
Dalglish was ecstatic at the final whistle, whereas Wenger must now fear his defensive options will be reduced further by Koscielny's back problem ahead of Wednesday's Champions League qualifier against Udinese in Italy.
Wenger now faces 10 days that may not exactly define his future, but which have the capacity to shape the mood of an entire seasonPhil McNulty Read the rest of the blog here
Nasri received a mixed reception when his name was announced - but swiftly won over his detractors with an energetic and influential performance in the opening period, with youngster Frimpong also impressive.
Arsenal also had to regroup after the early loss of Koscielny with a back spasm. Young Spanish defender Miquel came on and Liverpool almost took advantage of the defensive readjustment as Andy Carroll rose to meet Stewart Downing's cross and produce an athletic save from Wojciech Szczesny.
Szczesny had an easier task to save from Jordan Henderson's header before Arsenal grew in confidence and started to threaten in the latter stages of the half.
Nasri demonstrated the verve that has made him such a coveted asset with a surging run from inside his own half that ended with him shooting just wide from 20 yards and Frimpong also forced a fine stop from Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina with a low drive.
As a downpour soaked the Emirates, Arsenal almost made the breakthrough after 68 minutes when Andrey Arshavin found Van Persie in the area but Reina stuck out a leg to make a vital save.
Wenger rubbed his hands through his rain-soaked hair in sheer frustration, and he was not feeling any better two minutes later when Frimpong marred what had been a performance of real promise with a wild challenge on Lucas that earned him a second yellow card and dismissal.
It was a big win for Liverpool and will help their confidence. This wasn't the Arsenal first team but there are problems. Arsene Wenger has to come up with some answers - he has to come with signings.
Dalglish used Liverpool's numerical advantage to make a double substitution, sending on Suarez and Meireles for Carroll and Dirk Kuyt. Wenger's response was to replace Arshavin with Henri Lansbury.
When the deadlock was broken, it came in cruel fashion for Arsenal with 12 minutes left. Miquel, with Suarez in close attendance, attempted to clear only to see his attempt strike Ramsey and loop over the stranded Szczesny.
The energy visibly drained out of Arsenal and Suarez's late second only increased the pain for Wenger and Arsenal's increasingly frustrated fans.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Sebastian Larsson scored a superb volley on his debut to earn a point for Sunderland at Liverpool.
The hosts will curse the fact Luis Suarez missed an early penalty when he was tripped by Kieran Richardson before sending his spot-kick way over.
But the Uruguayan shrugged off his disappointment to nod in a 12th-minute opener from Charlie Adam's cross.
Sunderland rarely threatened in the first half but Larsson's 57th-minute goal capped a better defensive display.
Once they had equalised, the Black Cats looked the more likely victors as Liverpool ran out of steam.
And it was an impressive second-half turnaround for Steve Bruce's men, who would have been happy to take a point back to the north east after coming under serious pressure in the first period.
With four Liverpool players making their debuts, there was lots of encouragement for Kenny Dalglish and his decision to use Suarez was entirely justified despite the striker only returning to training on Monday following his Copa America exploits.
After winning the South American championship with his country on 24 July, perhaps tiredness could have played a part in Suarez's misfortune from the spot after only six minutes.
Yet he was sprightly enough to earn the penalty in the first place, charging down Richardson's pass near the halfway line and racing clear, only to be tripped by the left-back as he shaped to round keeper Simon Mignolet.
The Sunderland defender looked fortunate not to earn a red card from referee Phil Dowd, but before the Black Cats could regroup they were behind when Adam's free-kick from the right was tucked in by the Uruguayan following Wes Brown's foul.
It was an absolutely tremendous first half for Liverpool but in the second half they lacked a bit of spark. Steve Bruce's team did well in the second period and if there is a better finish in the Premier League this afternoon than Sebastian Larsson's volley then I can't wait to see it
Adam looked extremely comfortable during his first game in the centre of Liverpool's midfield.
And his range of passing more than made up for Steven Gerrard's absence through injury, with the former Blackpool player going close with a rasping drive.
Although Sunderland were timid early on, debutant Larsson caused Pepe Reina problems from his set-pieces, with the Spanish keeper saving from Brown's header before looking shaky on another occasion.
Three of Liverpool's four-man midfield were making their first appearances for the hosts, with Dalglish preferring Jordan Henderson, up against his former club, on the right-hand side of midfield to Dirk Kuyt.
Although Downing was deployed on the left, he almost marked his debut with a superb goal from the opposite flank on 34 minutes.
Cutting in, he raced past several Sunderland defenders to smash a shot against the bar.
Despite some occasionally rash challenges by both sides, the hosts were coasting and it wasn't until after the break that Steve Bruce's team improved. They had to.
It was Larsson who turned their pressure into something more tangible when he volleyed in from Ahmed Elmohamady's right-wing cross.
The Swede was given lots of room at the back post by Liverpool right-back John Flanagan but even so it was an expert finish.
After a relatively quiet first period Andy Carroll began to get on the end of more of Liverpool's crosses, but even though Kuyt was introduced in place of Henderson, the fluency ran out of their play.
Sunderland were working harder and with Suarez being withdrawn with 15 minutes to go, there was little danger behind their defence and a more evenness to the match.
After conceding a controversial goal last season, Bruce would have been content to finish the game in relative comfort, but for both sides there were encouraging signs from their new-look players.