Arsenal were without a whole host of key first-team players for the clash and it showed. Injuries to defenders Laurent Koscielny and Carl Jenkinson during the game made the situation far worse for Wenger, while the dismissal of the inexperienced holding midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong will have disappointed his manager even further. Of course, none of these problems concerned Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish’s side did all they could to beat what was put in front of them, but there are tougher tests to come in the future that will truly examine Liverpool’s top-four credentials.
Fortunately for the Reds, Dalglish has now built a squad capable of dealing with those top sides on a more consistent basis. The most satisfying aspect of the victory over Arsenal will have been the impact of substitutes Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez. To have players of such a high quality coming off the bench is fantastic for the manager, but to see them both directly involved for the goals was far more impressive and sent out more than one message to Liverpool’s rivals.
Firstly, the Merseysiders now have great strength in depth, which is not something that Reds’ supporters have been able to say in the past. Dalglish did not even have to call upon Maxi Rodriguez, who scored 10 goals last season, or Martin Skrtel, who played in every single minute of Liverpool’s Premier League campaign in 2010/2011. The manager has a number of exciting options, which he will use to great effect throughout the season.
Secondly, Liverpool are no longer a one or two man team, as they have so often been branded in the past. Skipper Steven Gerrard is still injured, yet his team look relatively comfortable in his absence. Saying such a thing just a couple of seasons ago would be unthinkable. Liverpool have certainly improved under Dalglish and supporters will undoubtedly be excited about what the team could achieve when Gerrard is back to form a partnership with Suarez over the coming months.
Overall, the result against Arsenal was a great one and has lifted Liverpool into a Champions League spot early on in the season, however Dalglish’s side will face tougher, stronger opponents as the season continues. However, with the likes of Gerrard and Glen Johnson still to come back, there is much hope and expectation that Liverpool will be able to cope with opposition of higher quality. The visit of Manchester United in October could give an indication as to how far Liverpool have come since they were beaten by the Red Devils around a year ago.