Always one of the biggest fixtures of the season and after both teams kicking off the new season with draws last week, there would be an impatience to record their first win. Liverpool go into the game knowing that they have never won at the Emirates Stadium and have not recorded a win against Arsenal away from home for 11 years. But Liverpool have a new confidence and belief encouraged by Dalglish as manager and with all the new summer signings. Arsenal on the other hand are like a club in turmoil, with their talismanic captain Cesc Fabregas leaving for Barcelona last week and an uncertain future regarding star player Nasri, Arsenal have also been decimated by injuries in this new season. Even with all Arsenal’s troubles Liverpool know this would be a very difficult match.
Dalglish made a couple of changes to the side that drew with Sunderland last week, Martin Kelly came in for the unfortunate Flanagan, but more surprisingly was the news that Luis Suarez was to start on the bench with Dirk Kuyt coming back into the side. Even without Suarez starting the match the side still had a lot of attack minded players starting with the likes of Carroll, Kuyt, Downing and Adam being complimented with marauding wingbacks in the shape of Enrique and Kelly.
Another massive crowd inside this magnificent stadium for the match of the day and Arsenal were the first to threaten in the early stages when Vermaelen headed over from a corner.
The game became a little heated when Frimpong squared up to Henderson resulting in a yellow card for the Arsenal youngster. Arsenal were dealt another injury blow when Koscielny hobbled out of Arsenal’s makeshift defence.
Liverpool tried to capatilise as Arsenal regrouped when Carroll had a header from an Enrique cross well saved by Szczesny. Then Henderson failed to convert a Kuyt centre.
Liverpool were shading the play during the first half and Adam went close with an ambitious effort from the centre circle, the ball just going over the crossbar.
It was 30 minutes before Arsenal threatened Reina’s goal when Frimpong had an effort well saved by Reina. Then Nasri had a very good run ending up with a shot into the hoardings. Downing had a similar effort at the other end as the half ended.
Liverpool started the second half with Carroll setting up Kelly who shot against the outside of the post. But as the half wore on Arsenal started to dominate.
Carragher did well to cut out a Walcott cross as Van Persie waited to fire home. Then Adam made a great tackle on Nasri at the edge of the box as Arsenal continued to test Liverpool.
But the game changed in the 70th minute when the reckless Frimpong caught Lucas late with a bad challenge and was sent off for a second yellow card.
Dalglish changed his attack at this point bringing on Suarez and Meireles for Carroll and Kuyt. Liverpool smelled blood now and looked dangerous. Downing went close with a rasping shot being brilliantly saved by Szczesny.
But Liverpool made the breakthrough in the 77th minute in bizarre fashion when Henderson tried to pass a ball through to Suarez but Miquel’s clearance ricocheted off Ramsey and into the Arsenal net bringing great joy to the travelling Liverpool support.
Meireles should have made it 2-0 but he shot high. But Liverpool finished the game off in the 90th minute after a triangle of passes between Lucas and Meireles was finished off by Suarez and gave Liverpool a superb victory.
Well I was as surprised as everyone to see Suarez not starting but Dalglish probably feels he needs a bit more training yet as he did tire last week. I was pleased to see Kuyt come back into the team as his workrate was needed at the Emirates. Liverpool worked superbly as a unit and limited Arsenal to few chances. There was a hint of offside at the goals but we were unlucky with decisions last week so good to see them going for us this week. Great performances from Adam, Enrique, Downing and Kelly to name a few. But overall a great performance and a confidence boosting result ending an 11 year wait.
Man of the Match – Enrique – Walcott never got passed him and he looked dangerous going forward too. Looking like a great signing.
written by Jamie McLaughlin website at www.anfieldnews.com