Arsenal’s miserable start to the Premier League continued with a demoralising 2-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool at The Emirates stadium.
With several players out through injuries and suspensions, Arsene Wenger was forced to field a young line-up, which really told as the game wore on, as a new look and experienced Liverpool side cruised to a win.
There weren’t many stand out performers in the match but a couple of players stood out for both teams…
Wojciech Szczesny 7 – The Polish ‘keeper continues to grow with every passing game and he was calm and assured for Arsenal. He could do nothing about both Liverpool goals and he didn’t deserve to be beaten by a fluke own goal. A flying save from an Andy Carroll header was the highlight of his match.
Bacary Sagna 6 – Was asked to play out of position at left-back in the first half and struggled to impose himself in an attacking sense but was still solid defensively. He reverted to his natural right-back berth in the second period and did a good job to keep Stewart Downing quiet.
Thomas Vermaelen 8 – By far Arsenal’s best player on the pitch. Completely nullified the threat of Andy Carroll, bar one header. He was a commanding presence at the back for the Gunners throughout the match as he constantly won every header. He also wasn’t afraid to join in attacks with some excellent forward runs. He will be a key player for Arsenal this season if he stays fit.
Laurent Koscielny 5 – The defender was forced off after just 15 minutes with a back spasm to add to Arsenal’s mounting injury list.
Carl Jenkinson 6 – The 19-year-old summer signing from Charlton was making his Premier League debut, but he would’ve wished for it to have been in easier conditions. Like Sagna, he had to play one half out of position at left-back but he didn’t look out of place and had a decent game. He kept it neat and tidy at the back but looked a little afraid to make forays forward to join in the attacks.
Emmanuel Frimpong 7 – The young Ghanaian midfielder was also making his Premier League debut for Arsenal and was fantastic in the first half. He was full of energy and added the steel and bite in midfield that Arsenal have been looking for, for several years. Unfortunately the youngster’s enthusiasm got the better of him as he received a second yellow card in the second half for a studs-up challenge on Lucas after a silly first yellow card. He is definitely one to watch this season.
Aaron Ramsey 5 – The talented Welshman struggled to impose himself on the game at all and was dominated by Charlie Adam and Lucas in the midfield. He conceded an own goal through no fault of his own though. But for somebody who is being tipped to fill the boots of the departed Cesc Fabregas this performance didn’t show him in the most positive light.
Samir Nasri 7 – The outbound midfielder was a surprise inclusion in the starting eleven by Arsene Wenger with his protracted move to Man City looming, but he remained professional and put in a good performance. He was Arsenal’s brightest spark going forward and he came to close to opening the scoring after a terrific run and shot which went just wide in the first half. He drifted away slightly in the second period and began to tire.
Andrey Arshavin 4 – The unpredictable Russian was very poor for Arsenal and never got into the rhythm of the match. His touch was off and he gave the ball away on numerous occasions. The Arsenal faithful are beginning to lose patience with him and this performance will not endear them.
Theo Walcott 4 – Like Arshavin, he never got into the game and he found it incredibly difficult against Jose Enrique who continously over-powered him and matched him for pace. He looked disinterested and didnt see much of the ball in the entire game. Failed to impress the watching England boss, Fabio Cappello.
Robin Van Persie 6 – The new Arsenal captain wasn’t at his best and suffered from a lack of service. He had to come very deep to receive the ball the entire match which made life easy for Liverpool’s defence. Along with Nasri he was Arsenal’s only goal threat, but in fairness the gunners never looked like scoring.
Miquel 6 – The young centre-half was called upon to replace the injured Koscielny after just 15 minutes and played ok. But it was his clearance that ricocheted off Ramsey and into the net to give Liverpool the lead. Very unfortunate on the youngster.
Lansbury 5 – Saw very little of the ball as he came on when Arsenal were reduced to ten men.
Bendtner 5 – He struggled to get a single touch of the ball as the game fizzled out with Liverpool in total control.
Pepe Reina 6 – The Spaniard had a very quiet game and was only called into action on a handful of occasions and was equal to anything Arsenal threw at him. He saw very little action in his box in the second period as Liverpool dominated possession. A surprisingly quiet afternoon at The Emirates for him.
Martin Kelly 7 – It was another solid outing from the England Under-21 international and will push Glen Johson all the way for a starting place at right-back this season. He was excellent defensively and was not afraid to help out in an attacking sense too. He came close to scoring his first Liverpool goal but his shot hit the outside of the post. This could be a defining season for Kelly.
Jamie Carragher 7 – A typically robust and no nonsense performance from the Liverpool skipper for the day. He was equal to everything Arsenal threw at him and managed to keep Van Persie relatively quiet. Led from the back and led the team to victory.
Daniel Agger 7 – Like Carragher, he was assured and comfortable. He struggled at times with the directness of Nasri, but other than that he was strong at the back and like Vermaelen at the other end, he was constantly looking to bring the ball out of defence and create attacks.
Jose Enrique 9 – *MAN OF THE MATCH. This was only Enrique’s second appearance for Liverpool having signed just 9 days ago but he looked like he had been a Liverpool player for years. He was comfortable in possession and defended excellently, especially against the pace of Theo Walcott and he was largely responsible for the England winger’s poor showing. He got forward with purpose aswell and his cross almost led to a goal for Andy Carroll. Left-back has been a problem for Liverpool but it looks like it’s finally in good hands with the strong Spaniard.
Stewart Downing 6 – Didn’t really have the kind of impact on the game as he would’ve liked but he always offered Liverpool an outlet on both flanks, constantly switiching. He was always willing to get forward and run at his marker but for once his final delivery let him down.
Charlie Adam 7 – He kept things ticking over for Liverpool the entire match and hardly wasted a pass. He played in the ‘quarterback’ role where he picked the ball up from deep and built attacks and was always finding intelligent passes to his team-mates. He could be the ‘new Alonso’ for Liverpool this season.
Lucas 6 – The Brazilian did his usual job of breaking up opposition plays effectively and won the ball back on several occasions for the visitors and was instrumental in the creation of the second goal with an excellent run and pass to Meireles.
Jordan Henderson 5 – Liverpool’s worst player on the pitch today. He lacked creativity and pace and produced a number of loose balls. He had a good headed opportunity in the first half which he tamely headed into the arms of Szczesny. Yet to convinve the Liverpool fans after his £20 million move and performances like this will not help.
Dirk Kuyt 6 – As always he was full of endeavor and hard work but he struggled in the final third of the pitch. Looked off the pace and he also gave away possession on several occasions. Not one of his better days.
Andy Carroll 6 – The big target man wasn’t at the races today at all and struggled to get anything out of Vermaelen, who got the better of him all afternoon. He had one headed chance, but apart from that he looked well off the pace and heavy legged at times. For £35 million, Liverpool will be looking for more and soon.
Suarez 8 – He replaced Carroll on 70 minutes and immediately changed the game and upped Liverpool’s tempo. His intricate move involving fellow substitute Meireles helped eventually force the own goal by Ramsey and he combined yet again with Meiereles for the second goal, as he tapped in the Portuguese man’s pass across goal. He is fast becoming Liverpool’s most important player.
Meireles 8 – Was inolved in both Liverpool goals and had a huge impact on the game. Helped force the own goal and unselfishly laid one on for Suarez to wrap up victory.
The fixtures don’t get any easier for Arsenal with a trip to Udinese in the Champions League qualifier on Wednesday night followed by a trip Old Trafford to face Manchester United next weekend. This result will not please the Arsenal fans and it will intensify the calls for Wenger to sign some players. With only 10 days left of the transfer window can he really bring in the four or five players he needs?
As for Liverpool, the future looks bright for them and after a disastrous start to last season under Roy Hodgson, they look like a force again this time round with Kenny Dalglish at the helm. Liverpool’s new signings still need time to gel together and will only get better. Will they add to their squad before the deadline is over? A new centre-half is high on their agenda, despite already spending over £50 million.