Arsenal 0 – 2 Liverpool
0 – 1 Ramsey (83 o.g.)
0 – 2 Suarez (90)
Sent Off: Frimpong (72)
Two late goals following Emmanuel Frimpong’s sending off, earned Liverpool a barely-merited first win at The Emirates. There can be no arguing with the dismissal of Frimpong, had he not been booked beforehand then his over-enthusiastic lunge would have probably seen him receive a straight red.
The defeat – aligned with the comments of David Dein earlier in the week – has led to Arsène defiantly stating that he has no intention of walking away from the club. We see the angle that media coverage of Arsenal will take this season. That and the demands that he spend, spend, spend.
It was a mixed bag of a performance. For a man whose commitment was openly questioned beforehand, Samir Nasri set about signing off in style. Rumours of the collapse of his Manchester City seem fanciful, the Frenchman came close to providing a goalscoring finale to his Arsenal career with an impressive run through the heart of the Liverpool team. Emmanuel Frimpong also gave a heartening display on his debut, hassling, harrying, shooting; the all-action performance many demand in a genuinely defensive midfield role.
Outstanding performances from Vermaelen (most people’s Man of the Match) along with Miquel, denying Liverpool’s expensively assembled forward line much sight of goal until overwhelmed in the final minutes. The young Spaniard repaid his manager’s faith when replacing Laurent Koscielny with barely a quarter of an hour played. He might be playing more frequently with the news that Koscielny is going to be missing for two weeks.
There were those who were subdued, Walcott and Arshavin were not at their electric best, disappointing as they are the players others will be looking to lift them or provide the creative spark in the absence of departed colleagues.
Those efforts and the hard work that the team put in are the cornerstones of a positive mood overall, despite the result. Dismal officiating once more takes centre stage. Meireles might have been marginally offside in the build-up to the first goal but the margin is not important, offside he was. Miquel looked devastated as his clearance slammed off Ramsey and into the net. Football is a cruel mistress.
Frimpong will be disappointed that his actions have been a fundamental cause of defeat. He played well and offered an alternative to the style of Song. His first booking was unnecessary, a confrontation which was emminently avoidable. The enthusiasm of his debut belied his inexperience at times. Yet there is now another vacancy in midfield for next week’s trip to Old Trafford, possibly two if Nasri departs beforehand. Are there that many fit midfielders left at the club? Jack Wilshere is mentioned as probably being ready for a return, Wenger must avoid the temptation of solving the short-term problem by creating a longer-term one through rushing the youngster back.
He may not need to. This weekend has seen Marseille confirm that an offer for Lucho Gonzalez was rebuffed, Rennes Yann M’Vila is subject of a £20m approach (or anywhere upwards from £12m) whilst comedy value comes from Kaka being a loan target. That is if £9m isn’t spent on Per Mertesacker instead.
There is no doubt that Wenger and the club are trying to strengthen the squad, the question is whether they need to loosen the purse strings a little more. No doubt that the financial health of the club has been achieved through careful use of funds but to miss out on players now would unnecessarily place strain on the bank balance in future time.
Even with the departure of Cesc and Nasri soon to follow, Wenger has a hugely talented squad. The youngsters come in and do not look out of their depth, evidenced by Jenkinson as well yesterday. Yet they need the guiding hand of experience as well. Hopefully the manager will be able to land those needed to give the squad the boost that will prove their numerous detractors wrong.