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Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal Match Report
Always one of the most important fixtures of the season, but with Liverpool still looking for Brendan Rodgers’ first league win in charge, this match took on added importance.
An encouraging draw against Manchester City last weekend followed by qualification to the group stages of the Europa League against Hearts on Thursday, has renewed optimism with the Anfield faithful.
The big team news for Liverpool was the selection of new signing Nuri Sahin to make his debut in a Red shirt. Agger came back into to the side at the expense of Coates after serving his suspension. Enrique slotted back into his familiar left-back role, with Johnson moving over to right-back to replace Martin Kelly. The exciting Raheem Sterling started on the left with Joe Allen and Gerrard in the middle, with Borini down the right and Suarez up front.
Liverpool made an encouraging start to the game as Borini flashed the first chance of the match wide after bursting through the middle.
Moments later Suarez tricked Mertesacker into hacking him down on the edge of the box, earning Liverpool a free-kick. Unfortunately for Liverpool Suarez couldn’t repeat his free-kick of the previous week as he blazed over the bar.
Then Joe Allen broke up an Arsenal attack which ended with Borini firing a shot into the Anfield Road end.
Arsenal slowly grew into the game and Cazorla almost put the visitors in front, but Reina stood firm. Arteta and Cazorla started to influence the game and Liverpool found it hard to gain possession.
Raheem Sterling made a dangerous move towards the Arsenal penalty box only to be halted by Arteta just outside the box. However, Gerrard fired the free-kick straight into the wall.
Then Arsenal broke the deadlock with a lethal counter-attack, when Gerrard lost possession just outside the Arsenal box. The move orchestrated by Cazorla ended with Podolski firing past Reina and stunning the Kop.
Liverpool almost levelled immediately when Sterling turned inside the box, but his fierce shot shaved the outside of the post.
Liverpool had a shout for a penalty but replays suggest Howard Webb was correct as Mertesacker stretched to stop the lightning Sterling as he burst into the box.
But Arsenal should have doubled their lead after a tremendous break by Diaby which ended with Giroud shooting into the Kop with only Reina to beat.
5 minutes after the re-start Liverpool thought they should have had a penalty when Suarez was bundled to the ground by Mertesacker inside the box after a low cross by Gerrard. But Howard Webb waved away Liverpool’s appeals.
With Liverpool chasing the game Brendan Rodgers brought on Downing for Borini and Shelvey on for Sahin to freshen things up and Downing made an instant impact with a clever back heel to set up Suarez but the Uruguayan’s effort was palmed over the bar by Mannone.
Then in the 68th minute Liverpool was undone for a second time when Cazorla exchanged passes with Giroud on the edge of the box before ploughing into the Liverpool penalty area and hammering the ball under Reina for 2-0.
Liverpool huffed and puffed to get back into the match and Suarez and Shelvey having chances late on but Liverpool could not break through a stubborn Arsenal defence, as the visitors held on for a deserved 3 points.
Pleased to see Sahin finally starting for Liverpool in a side that looked about as strong as Rodgers could field. Liverpool started the game brightly, as Liverpool created a few chances, but was opened up far too easily on the counter-attack as proved by the first goal. Sterling looked dangerous, but was paid a lot of attention by Arsenal’s defenders. Joe Allen was once again superb in midfield, but Gerrard’s passing was surprisingly poor. Worried about the number of goals Liverpool is conceding and with no strikers on the bench, there doesn’t seem to be a plan B. I have to blame Reina for the second goal, he should have saved it, and he is making far too many mistakes all of a sudden. Liverpool played some nice football without a cutting edge and never looked solid defensively either. Deservedly beat.