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Arsenal picked up their first win of the season at their favourite hunting ground Anfield as the Gunners emerged 2-0 victors against Liverpool. The first goals of the season for Arsenal came from the two new-boys as Lukas Podolski on 31 minutes and Santi Cazorla on 67 minutes ensured that the team went into the International break on the back of their first three points.
The result was hard to swallow for Liverpool as they dominated the 1st half, producing some eye-catching football in what was a very energetic performance from Brendan Rodgers' men. And, to add insult to injury it was a misplaced pass from Steve Gerrard that led to the opening goal, which provided Arsenal the platform to build their play, while Pepe Reina's blunder cost them the 2nd. The Reds will take positives from the defeat but it is the Gunners who take home the points.
The Gunners with no goals to show for their two Premier League games this far, continued to have a worrying look about them as Vito Mannone was forced to deputize in goal once again for the injured Wojciech Szczesny, who put in a man of the match performance here last season. There was just one change to the Arsenal line-up from the game that took to the field against Stoke City with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handed his first start of the season in place of Gervinho, who dropped to the bench. Theo Walcott was the surprising absentee for the second straight game. The good news for the Gunners was the return of Laurent Koscielny to the bench having recovered from the calf strain he picked up in the pre-season friendly against Cologne in Germany.
Liverpool had troubles of their own in goal with Pepe Reina committing a howler in midweek, but with limited options, Brendan Rodgers continued to show faith in the Spanish veteran. There was a return for Jose Enrique at left-back with Stewart Downing being dropped to the bench having started in a defensive role in midweek against Hearts. Real Madrid loanee Nuri Sahin was interestingly thrust straight into the action as Liverpool paired him alongside Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen in central midfield. Young Raheem Sterling joined Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini as the dront three with Liverpool playing their strongest eleven, leaving no firepower on the bench.
Liverpool made an encouraging start to the game capitalizing on Arsenal's inability to hang on to the football to fashion some half-chances. Borini had two sights of goal and showed he wasn't gun shy, but failed to hit the target on either occasion. Luis Suarez won the Reds a free-kick just outside the box, but failed to work the rookie Arsenal keeper either. Raheem Sterling was proving a handful meanwhile, popping up on either wing and showing considerable pace and skill.
Daniel Agger has a terrific chance to give Liverpool a deserved lead in the 12th minute, but missed a free-header from a corner despite being under no pressure whatsoever.
Arsenal finally started seeing more of the ball as the game progressed and the pace of play dropped. The Gunners won a couple of corners, but failed to make anything of them. Arsenal's crossing even from open play was rather poor, Diaby though was having a good game in the middle of the park. Mertesacker's passing meanwhile had been nothing short of woeful with the big German gifting the ball to Liverpool in dangerous positions that they failed to make the most of.
Arsenal did get their season up and running in the 30th minute with a poor pass from Gerrard intercepted before it reached Suarez. Podolski started the Arsenal counter attack finding Cazorla, who in turn returned the ball to the German, who slotted home calmly across Reina to put Arsenal ahead.
Liverpool came back strongly after the goal with Sterling hitting the outside of the post in the 37th minute after Borini had done a fantastic job of keeping the ball alive at the far post from Gerrard's overhit cross. A few minutes later Liverpool thought they might have won a penalty when Mertesacker appeared to have brought down Sterling, but replays showed that the referee got the decision spot on as the big German got just enough of the ball.
Back up the other end, Arsenal should have made it 2-0 on the counter again as Diaby ran almost half the length of the pitch and laid the ball on a plate for Giroud, who missed a sitter, similar to the chance he had in Arsenal's season opener against Sunderland, this time on his left foot.
Liverpool had played some terrific football, but trailed by a solitary goal heading into the break.
The 2nd half began in similarly frenetic fashion, with Skrtel's rash challenge on Diaby earning the centre-back a deserved yellow card. After a spell of possession, Arsenal were under threat as Gerrard found space on the right to feed a ball across the box for Suarez, who was kept under wraps by Mertesacker, with the Kop screaming for a penalty, although referee Howard Webb made the right decision again by waving away the protests.
Reina was then called into action at the other end as Gibbs made a brilliant overlapping run on the left to collect Podolski's pass and strike an effort goalwards from a narrow angle. The end-to-end action continued as Liverpool were again pointing to the referee, with Vermaelen's inadvertent hand-ball their cause for protest this time around. On the footballing side, Rodgers had thrown on Stewart Downing for Borini by then and the Englishman immediately played a neat pass for Suarez, who warmed Mannone's fingertips with a stinging effort.
The shots kept raining in, with the defenders getting into the act as Jenkinson and Agger had pops at goal from distance, with both being saved with ease by the respective stoppers. The game continued to flow at a great pace as the Reds were pinging in the crosses from the wings, but it was Arsenal's Spaniard schemer who was to be their thorn as Cazorla put Arsenal two goals to the good 67 minutes in.
Podolski and Cazorla combined to great effect on the left, leaving the Liverpool defenders stranded as the former Malaga man darted into the box before striking a shot towards the near post. But Reina was at fault for the goal as he allowed the ball to squirm through his hands and into the back of the net.
Liverpool were understandably deflated after the goal as Anfield descended into gloomy silence. The Gunners were holding their shape at the back to keep the home side at bay in the final quarter of the game, although a shot from Downing aside they rarely threatened the Arsenal goal. Wenger then took off goal-scorer Podolski for Andre Santos with ten minutes remaining, a clear sign that the manager wanted to shut up shop.
Liverpool did manage to scramble a few chances in the closing minutes as substitute Jonjo Shelvey sting Mannone's fingertips, with Arsenal making a desperate clearance to prevent Gerrard from turning in the rebound. Shelvey added a bit of bite to home side's play as he struck another goal-bound effort late in the game, with Mannone again called into action.
Liverpool outplayed Arsenal for most parts in the 1st half, but their inability to put away their chances has left them without a victory this season. they produced a similarly good performance against Man City last week but their defensive mistakes cost them the three points then and it was on show once again as Reina in particular looked vulnerable. On the other hand, Wenger will be delighted with the victory and the manner of it as his side showed great character to absorb the pressure and hit Liverpool on the counter-attack at vital moments. Podolski and Cazorla are up and running for the season and so are the Gunners who move up to 7th with five points while Liverpool hover above the relegation zone with just one point.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique, Allen, Sahin (Shelvey 65'), Gerrard, Sterling, Borini (Downing 55'), Suarez
Subs: Jones, Carragher, Shelvey, Downing, Henderson, Kelly, Coates
Arsenal: Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen (Koscielny 90'), Gibbs, Cazorla, Arteta, Diaby, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ramsey 73'), Giroud, Podolski (Santos 80')
Subs: Koscielny, Martinez, Santos, Ramsey, Coquelin, Gervinho, Walcott
Final Score: Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal (Podolski 30', Cazorla 67')
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