Sunday, August 21, 2011

Match Report: Arsenal 0 - 2 Liverpool

Liverpool recorded their first away win over Arsenal since 2000 to heap more misery on the Gunners - who saw Emmanuel Frimpong sent off and lost injured centre-back Laurent Koscielny in a 2-0 defeat at Emirates Stadium.

Samir Nasri impressed for the Gunners but the home side's luck was out after Aaron Ramsey's own goal and a last-minute strike from substitute Luis Suarez handed victory to the visitors.

Arsene Wenger - who now has half his first-choice team out because of suspension or injury - must regroup his squad for next week's crucial Champions League play-off second leg in Udinese and the small matter of a trip to Manchester United.

Nasri - whose £22million move to City is, according to reports on French TV, said to have broken down - did not applaud the crowd as the teams came out of the tunnel, and was then jeered by some sections of the Emirates Stadium faithful when his name was announced.

Liverpool showed early intent, as Dirk Kuyt - who netted a late penalty deep into stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw here last season - drilled a low, angled drive goalwards.

New Arsenal captain Robin van Persie looked lively as he nicked the ball out on the right channel and floated over a cross which Martin Kelly stabbed behind for a corner.

On eight minutes, Frimpong was cautioned for squaring up to Jordan Henderson as the Liverpool midfielder tried to take a quick throw-in.

Koscielny added to Wenger's defensive problems when he pulled up with what looked like a lower back injury on 14 minutes and had to be replaced by youngster Ignasi Miquel, the Spaniard making his Premier League debut.

Liverpool almost took the lead on 20 minutes when Andy Carroll's towering header at the far post brought a brilliant save from Wojciech Szczesny.

The visitors were in full flight now, with Henderson sending a tame header straight at the Arsenal keeper following another quick break down the left.

Charlie Adam then tried an audacious chip from the halfway line, which had Szczesny backpedalling, but flew over the bar.

Arsenal finally mounted a meaningful attack after 30 minutes when Frimpong's low drive from 20 yards was pushed wide by Jose Reina.

Nasri then showed what Arsenal would be missing when he picked up the ball in his own half, dashed forwards and turned Liverpool inside out before unleashing a 25-yard strike which curled past the post.

As the Heavens opened for the start of the second half, Liverpool continued to frustrate Arsenal.

The visitors broke quickly into the Gunners box on 55 minutes, with Carroll laying the ball back to Kelly - and his snapshot struck the outside of the post.

Arsenal eventually started to up the pressure, but lacked a decisive pass in the final third.

Andrey Arshavin turned Kelly and fed van Persie at the near post, but his goalbound flick was kicked behind by Reina.

With 20 minute left, Arsenal were reduced to 10 men when Frimpong was shown a second yellow card when he left his foot up in a 50/50 challenge with Lucas, right in front of the referee.

Liverpool snatched a fortunate lead on 78 minutes when as Suarez darted into the six-yard box, Miquel's clearance cannoned off Ramsey's chest and back over the keeper into the net.

A miserable afternoon for the Gunners was compounded in the final minute when Suarez tapped in from close range following a quick counter-attack.

Dalglish Praises New Boys

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish hailed his summer signings after the impressive 2-0 win over Arsenal.

Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing all made their second starts for the club at the Emirates after arriving at Anfield during pre-season.

The quartet have all quickly settled in to their new surroundings with Enrique picking up the Man of the Match honours for keeping Theo Walcott quiet during the contest.

Dalglish was delighted to see his side secure their first win of the campaign and he believes the signs are promising for his new arrivals.

"Obviously we are delighted. It is a very difficult place to come that everyone knows about," Dalglish told Sky Sports HD2. "We knew anyone that they did play would stand up for them and play well.

"I thought it was a fantastic game of football - we are delighted to have won, we probably just about deserved it. We never lost a goal which is good for a start.

"We know what the boys are capable of and it is just about getting them trained to play that way. I think you have seen the difference with an extra week and they were very impressive again.

"They have got the first game out of the way and they know the size of the football club and what they have come for. If that is an indication of how quickly they have settled we have a lot to look forward to."

Carragher Hails Emirates Win

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher felt his side deserved their 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Aaron Ramsey's unfortunate own goal and Luis Suarez's late strike proved to be enough to give Liverpool their first ever win at the Emirates.

An under-strength Arsenal side was further depleted by an early injury to Laurent Koscielny and the sending-off of Emmanuel Frimpong and Carragher, who captained Liverpool in the absence of Steven Gerrard, admitted it was a good time to play the Gunners.

"They are such a great side and have been for a long time and it is a difficult place to come but we deserved (the win) on Saturday," Carragher told Sky Sports HD2.

"To be fair to them they have a lot of injuries and they had a couple more at the back on Saturday so when you have that many it is going to be awkward but I think (Thomas) Vermaelen was outstanding, especially in the first half."

Carragher also felt the win was important following last weekend's disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland.

"Last week was a bit of a comedown after everyone had started well - the players, fans and staff were on a bit of a downer and I think we had a little to prove here after that," added Carragher.

Man of the match Jose Enrique felt the own goal changed the game but still feels there is room for improvement in the Liverpool side.

"We had a lot of chances in the first half and didn't score but after the first goal we had control of the game," noted Enrique.

"All (the new signings) started on Saturday in the first XI and we did OK and won against one of the best teams in England.

"We have to play more together to play better but we did well on Saturday. I think I played OK but I have to know the players more."

Kenny To Take Care With Suarez

Kenny Dalglish accepts he is going to have to manage Luis Suarez carefully to make sure Liverpool see the best of him this season.

The Reds recorded a 2-0 victory at Arsenal on Saturday - their first away Barclays Premier League win over the Gunners in a decade - following the introductions of Suarez and Raul Meireles.

It was the duo who combined to force the breakthrough, after Arsenal had been reduced to ten men in the wake of Emmanuel Frimpong's red card, when Ignasi Miquel's clearance bounced off Aaron Ramsey and into the net.

Suarez then tapped in a second goal in the final minute to make sure of the points for the Reds at the Emirates Stadium.

The 24-year-old impressed in Uruguay's Copa America win this summer, and Dalglish feels if he can keep all of his frontmen fresh then that can only benefit the long-term good of the squad.

"Last week (against Sunderland) maybe I was being a wee bit romantic with Luis," the Scot said. "It was unfair on him, he was coming back and was on such a high and looked sharp in training. I thought I would give him a game.

"Maybe last week it was the wrong decision from me. He still scored the goal, still played well, but he just never had the energy he normally has. Maybe we just brought him back a wee bit too soon."

Dalglish added: "We have got to manage Luis' circumstances the same as we have everybody else's. There were another four or five lads there who we had for the first time.

"Raul Meireles has had a difficult pre-season with injuries so we have got to look after him as well as Luis."

Aquilani In Milan Claim

Liverpool midfielder Alberto Aquilani claims he is close to joining Italian giants AC Milan.

Aquilani spent last season back in his homeland with a loan spell at Juventus, before returning to Anfield earlier in the summer.

Aquilani has been continually linked with a move back to his native Italy summer with the former Roma man seemingly not figuring in Kenny Dalglish's plans.

Juventus declined to sign Aquilani on a permanent basis because of his price-tag, while the 27-year-old also came close to joining Fiorentina earlier this summer, but he pulled out of the move as he wanted a permanent transfer rather than a loan deal.

Milan have now expressed an interest in Aquilani as they look to bolster their midfield options after being frustrated in their attempts to land Fiorentina's Riccardo Montolivo

"I am close to joining Milan," Aquilani told Gazzetta dello Sport.

It remains to be seen if the move would be a loan deal or a permanent deal with Liverpool thought to be keen on a permanent transfer so that they can raise funds for their own transfer plans.

Kenny & Comolli’s £6m Man Will Be A Stellar Centre Back Solution

Kenny Dalglish is mulling over a cut-price move for Werder Bremen centre-back Per Mertesacker as the Scot continues to rebuild his Liverpool squad. Mertesacker is available for around £6m due to him being in the last year of his contract.

Though Liverpool generally have an excellent defensive record and boast young, powerful centre-backs in Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, even during their Premiership opener, Jamie Carragher’s weaknesses were again exposed.

Though Carragher is without doubt a great defender and still has a big part to play this season, he cannot be relied to maintain his form of old for a full season.

This leaves Liverpool with Agger and Skrtel – talented certainly, but hardly the rock solid pairing that would propel Liverpool into the top four. A move for Mertesacker would offer Liverpool the defensive stability that is essential to a high finish.

Mertesacker recently expressed his desire to play in the Premiership which had many thinking that Arsenal would make a bid for the German international. However, no bid has materialized for one reason and another.

And now it seems that Arsene Wenger will be far busier trying to replenish his squad’s midfield talent, leaving Liverpool to steal in and secure the signature of one of Europe’s top defenders.

Capello Impressed By Kelly

England boss Fabio Capello has revealed he is considering giving Liverpool defender Martin Kelly a call-up into the senior squad.

Kelly has established himself as a key member of the Liverpool side over the last 18 months after earning an extended run in the side under Kenny Dalglish last term.

The versatile defender, who can play at centre-back as well as right-back, has won two caps for England Under 21s and he is now in contention for the senior side.

Capello watched Kelly in action during Liverpool's 2-0 win over Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday and he is a big admirer of the 21-year-old stopper.

"I see some players interesting for me, some new players like Kelly the right-back, he is really interesting," Capello told Sky Sports' Goals On Sunday.

"He is young and he played a good, good game."

Tommy Smith: Liverpool FC Must Field Strong Side In Carling Cup

Liverpool makes the long trip down to Exeter City in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night and it’s vital we play a strong side.

Too often in recent years we’ve played weakened teams in the competition and been dumped out at an early stage.

Let’s go there and get a thumping win to boost confidence ahead of the league game against Bolton next weekend.

You can get away with making a few changes but you can’t afford to play a completely different team.

Liverpool should be too strong for Exeter but there’s no room for complacency.

I remember when I was at Swansea under John Toshack we played Tottenham in the FA Cup.

On paper they should have beaten us but they thought it would be easy and we dumped them out.

Exeter won’t be as good technically as Liverpool. Their passing won’t be as good but what you can guarantee is that they will work tirelessly.

They will run and run because it’s a massive occasion for them. It will be the only chance many of their players get to play against Liverpool.

It will be a sell-out and if Liverpool’s attitude isn’t right we will pay the price. If we match Exeter’s work rate we’ll be fine.

Young Reds Held In Opener

Jordan Lussey struck a magnificent equalizer as Liverpool U18s came from behind to claim a creditable 1-1 draw against Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.

The versatile youngster finished off a positive run with a rasping 25 yarder on 74 minutes to cancel out Joe Ralls's opener from the penalty spot.

It means Mike Marsh maintains his unbeaten run since assuming the U18 hot-seat in the summer and he will now look to re-energize his squad in time for the long journey to Portsmouth next weekend.

On a bright morning in Kirkby, the Reds looked intent on carrying on the goalscoring exploits that had been a feature of their pre-season and almost got off to a flyer when Jack Dunn saw his goalbound effort deflected to safety on five minutes.

The hosts were playing with a hunger and an urgency that the visitors were struggling to cope with in the early exchanges leading to another opening just moments later.

The busy Dunn breezed down the left and sent a teasing cross to the far post where Kristoffer Peterson guided a header wide with David Richards all at sea in the Bluebirds' goal.

Substitute Sam Gainford then brought the best out of Richards with a low shot from Yalany Baio's pass before Lussey was forced to hack clear from underneath his own crossbar after a Cardiff corner from the left had threatened to arc directly into the goal.

The visitors had slowly gained a foothold in the game as the half wore on and as Liverpool toiled they should have gone ahead on 35 minutes.

A long ball over the top sent Jessie Darko rampaging towards goal. The powerful striker held off Matty Regan but saw his attempted lob drop inches over the crossbar with Jamie Stephens stranded in no man's land.

The Reds looked to step it up a gear following the interval but it was the away side who again looked the more threatening with Ralls crashing a low effort just past the far post.

It had developed into a keenly contested encounter and there didn't look like being a breakthrough until the Reds were penalized for a handball 20 minutes from time.

Ralls stepped up and comfortably beat Stephens from the spot to give the visitors what they must have felt was a winning goal.

However, they reckoned without the perseverance of Lussey who side stepped two challenges before smashing a stunning leveller into the top corner just six minutes later.

Substitute David Moli then came close to sneaking victory when he almost converted on 89 minutes but it wasn't to be and the hosts were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.