Liverpool's frailties exposed again
Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2:Liverpool were condemned to their worst start to a season for half a century as Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla gave Arsenal victory at Anfield. On what would have been Bill Shankly’s 99th birthday, the Reds equalled the record of his newly-promoted side in 1962-63 by collecting just one point from their opening three games.
Coming on the back of Friday’s deadline-day transfer debacle, when they failed to secure a replacement for Andy Carroll who had joined West Ham 24 hours earlier, the situation has provided huge cause for concern on Merseyside, with both owner John Henry and manager Brendan Rodgers in the firing line.
Arsene Wenger will reflect that he could easily have been in the same position had Arsenal lost. However, with Cazorla capping an excellent display by profiting from a Jose Reina blunder after summer recruit Podolski had opened their account for the season before half-time, the Gunners chief can start looking forward with confidence.
Rodgers afterwards refused to blame the lack of squad depth for his team’s lack of cutting edge.
“It’s something that I can’t control now," he told Sky Sports News. “It’s something that we had an opportunity to do. We’ve got what we’ve got. The players have given everything and I can’t blame them. We put the group out there to do what they can. We’ll assess it again in January.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s irrelevant, it’s gone. I’m only focussing on the players that are here and trying to get the very best out of them that we possibly can.”
Of today’s lacklustre performance, he added: “I’m disappointed with the scoreline because I thought we contributed very well to the game.
“We need to keep the ball a little better and that will come, but Arsenal kept it well in that final period and hid it from us. It’s absolutely nothing to do to with the style. The system is irrelevant, it’s about decision making and keeping the ball."A summer of optimism has given way to a sobering reality at Anfield.
Henry did spend big in his backing of Kenny Dalglish but as only Luis Suarez of those expensive purchases started against Arsenal, the wisdom of Dalglish’s work has to be questioned.
So much now rests on Suarez and for the first half at least, he almost seemed to be trying too hard.
Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling had Liverpool’s best chances before the break.
The latter continues to catch the eye and his excellent turn onto Steven Gerrard’s knockdown created the half-chance he belted against the outside of a post.