Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool – Tepid Gunners prove need for reinforcements

Emirates Stadium, London
Ramsey (og) 78, Suarez 90

Luis Suarez confirmed his value to Liverpool with a game-changing appearance from the bench, capped with his second goal of the season in the last minute which sealed a deserved victory for the Anfield club.

With injuries and the suspensions to Gervinho and Alex Song following the shenanigans at St James Park last week, Arsenal were forced to play Manchester City-bound Samir Nasri in midfield alongside debutant Emmanuel Frimpong and Aaron Ramsey. They lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott supporting Robin van Persie up front.

Liverpool sprang a surprise by resting Luis Suarez. They started with Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva in holding midfield roles, with Charlie Adam given the freedom to be the playmaker. Their forward line saw Stewart Downing and Dirk Kuyt offering the width to back up Andy Carroll.

With the problems Arsenal have had in central defence the last thing they wanted to see was another injury, but the back-spasm which forced off Laurent Koscielny after just 15 minutes forced Arsene Wenger to introduce teenage Spanish defender Ignasi Miquel off the bench. The withdrawal of Koscielny saw Liverpool grasp the initiative, and by attacking another teenager, Carl Jenkinson at right-back for the Gunners, saw Stewart Downing begin to cause problems. His cross in the 20th minute found Andy Carroll, but his powerful header was superbly saved at full stretch by Wojciech Szczesny.

Arsenal did start to get back into the game around the half hour mark, as Frimpong began to impose himself in midfield. The teenager’s 25-yard effort which forced Pepe Reina into a sprawling save gave him confidence and he was becoming influential as the half drew to a close. He also inspired his teammates and Nasri’s burst through the midfield five minutes later ended with another long range effort, this time just wide of Reina’s right hand post.

The second half saw Liverpool regain control. Despite their recent tradition of slick and neat passing, Arsenal found themselves being given the run-around by some neat football from Liverpool. One such period of passing saw a chance created for full-back Martin Kelly early in the second half, but the youngster’s shot hit the outside of the post.

Despite their dominance, Liverpool with Andy Carroll on the field, lacked the guile to break the Gunners down, but the game changed decisively with 20 minutes to go. As Liverpool prepared to introduce Luis Suarez and Raul Meierles to provide some craft around the area, Arsenal were reduced to 10-men as Frimpong, booked for a needless scuffle with Henderson in the first half, received his marching orders for a late challenge on Lucas.

Suarez made an immediate impact, almost opening the scoring when played in by Charlie Adam five minutes after his entrance, the Uruguayan’s shot blocked by the onrushing Szczesny. Three minutes later though, Liverpool did get the breakthrough their play deserved. The two substitutes combined well and as Meireles attempted to re-find Suarez with a through ball, Miguel’s attempted clearance hit Aaron Ramsey in the chest and looped over the helpless keeper.

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