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Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool: Reds break North London duck

Liverpool could not have asked for a better opportunity to play Arsenal at the Emirates as an own goal from Aaron Ramsey and a tap in from Luis Suarez ensured the Reds beat Arsenal away for the first time in 11 years.

It took until the 78th minute for Liverpool to score, when a run from Suarez lead to an attempted clearance by Carl Jenkinson. Jenkinson’s clearance awkwardly bounced off of Welsh captain Aaron Ramsey’s chest and floated in over keeper Wojciech Szczsesny. Arsenal will feel hard done by the decision, as replays showed Suarez was a half-step offsides when Raul Meireles played him a throughball.

Suarez put the game home in the 90th minute after a fine display of pass and move football by the Reds was capped off by a tap-in off of another Meireles pass. The Uruguayan’s goal was his second of the campaign, making him two-for-two this season.

Starting XI

Kelly | Carragher | Agger | Enrique
Henderson | Lucas | Adam
Kuyt | Carroll | Downing

Subs: Doni, Skrtel, Flanagan, Meireles, Spearing, Rodriguez, Suarez

Both Liverpool and Arsenal failed to capitalize on chances, the most notable for the Gunners coming from newly-named captain Robin van Persie. Andrei Arshavin’s center was mishit by the Dutchman, the result being a weak shot that bounced off of Pepe Reina for a corner. Arshavin pushed over right back Martin Kelly, but referee Martin Atkinson did not deem it a foul.

Liverpool, and Arsenal, for that matter, lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Andy Carroll flanked by Dirk Kuyt, returning to the starting lineup, on his right and Stewart Downing on his left.

The first half for both sides was pretty dire, with neither looking very threatening. That all changed with the introduction of Suarez – a common theme developing for the Reds – with 20 minutes to go. Kenny Dalglish also subbed on Meireles with Suarez, and unlike last week, the Scottish gaffers substitutions payed dividends. Liverpool looked a new side once Carroll came off and Suarez was on: his fresh legs, trickery, and intelligent play being too much for the Gunners.

The end result was a fine three points – and a win on the road against a very good club in Arsenal, despite the turmoil, injuries, and suspensions the Gunners are currently dealing with.

But a little bit of perspective is needed. Arsenal are coming off a Tuesday night Champions League qualifying match with Udinese and have a slew of injuries. Arsene Wenger – a “fantastic” manager according to Dalglish despite the growing Gooner dissent with the Frenchman – was forced to play some of his younger players, such as Emmanuel Frimpong who had a very good game for the Gunners – his first start ever for the club – despite being sent off for a second booking.

Ultimately, Liverpool were fortunate to play an Arsenal side that is in a serious mess. The performance wasn’t great, but the Kop will gladly take the three points against a team vying for a top spot. Now on to a Carling Cup draw with Exeter City on Wednesday.

Man of the Match: Jose Enrique. Any match with Luis Suarez playing likely results in a MOTM performance for the Uruguayan, but Enrique was fantastic. “El Toro” completely shut down Theo Walcott on the flank and was good going forward. Left back problem? What left back problem?

Needs to do better: Charlie Adam. Andy Carroll is receiving a lot of stick because of his £35 million transfer fee, but it might still be a little too early to judge the big Geordie because service to him hasn’t been very good. Adam, on the other hand, is supposed to be one of the providers, and he hasn’t showed very much in his few starts with Liverpool. Dalglish has given him full 90 minutes in the first two games so far, but once Steven Gerrard is fit, I can’t see Adam getting in the team sheet ahead of Captain Fantastic. Enough with the unrealistic long shots and Hollywood balls, already. You are not Xabi Alonso.

Player to keep on eye on:  Raul Meireles. The Portuguese international has started both games this season on the bench, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with limited time. He was unimpressive in the Sunderland match, but very effective against Arsenal, linking up well with Suarez.

Side note: Raul Meireles jokingly gave Lucas Leiva the finger during the match, poking fun at Frimpong flipping off Lucas after receiving his marching orders.

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