Arsenal vs. Liverpool: 7 Things We Learned from Premier League Matchup

Neri SteinFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2011

Arsenal vs. Liverpool: 7 Things We Learned from Premier League Matchup

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    Liverpool defeated Arsenal 2-0 in one of the early Premier league games Saturday to earn their first victory ever at the Emirates and first away win against Arsenal since 2000.  

    It was a makeshift Arsenal side because of transfers and suspensions, but Samir Nasri was in the starting lineup perhaps for his Arsenal swan song.

    But Liverpool were without Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson, with Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles both starting on the bench.

    The gloomy mood around Arsenal didn't get any better when Laurent Koscielny had to come off after just 14 minutes because of back spasms. 

    In the 70th minute, Emmanuel Frimpong became the second Arsenal debutante to be sent off this season 

    Aaron Ramsey was extremely unfortunate to see the ball bounce off his chest and over Wojciech Szczesny into the Arsenal net 12 minutes from time.  Suarez then scored his second goal of the season to secure Liverpool's three points in stoppage time. 

    It wasn't the prettiest game of football, especially once the rain came in the second half, but the first matchup this season between two of the Big Four certainly provided plenty of talking points. 

1. Emmanuel Frimpong Ruins His Debut With Two Moments of Stupidity

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    Emmanuel Frimpong was one of the better players for Arsenal on Saturday.

    He made some good challenges before Liverpool could get into Arsenal's final third.  He frustrated Liverpool's attacking play and set off the Arsenal attack rather well at times, similar to Lucas Leiva on the other end. 

    He also had a great run down the pitch in the 30th minute that ended with a cracking shot that Pepe Reina just got his hand to. 

    But he ruined it all with two moments of stupidity. 

    In the eight minute, he earned a ridiculous yellow card for blocking Jordan Henderson from taking a quick throw in.  Not for a mistimed challenge but for trying to act like a big man against the opposition.

    The 19-year-old had to play carefully for the rest of the match, and he did a good job of it until the 70th minute. 

    He went in for a loose ball with Lucas, but he left his left foot up, right in front of official Martin Atkinson, who had no choice but to produce a second yellow and send off an Arsenal debutante for the second week in a row. 

2. Liverpool's New Boys Taking Their Time to Gel

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    Liverpool's new boys played very well together in the opening match against Sunderland, for the first half at least. 

    As the game wore on, players like Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Jose Enrique and Andy Carroll showed signs of still getting used to each other. 

    It was much the same story at Arsenal as Liverpool's passing wasn't as fluid, and players were often left looking at each other aimlessly as many balls were misplayed. 

    The latest addition, Enrique, seems to have gelled into the side the quickest.  The Spanish left-back only joined Liverpool the day before the season started, but he has molded into the back line very well already and has linked up with Downing down the flank numerous times. 

    Henderson at only 21 years old was less impressive than he was against Sunderland and perhaps should not have started at the Emirates, even against a weakened Arsenal side.

    Liverpool really began to click when Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles came on for Andy Carroll and Dirk Kuyt in the 70th minute, and both should be in the starting lineup at home to Bolton next Saturday.

    The Carling Cup matchup at Exeter on Wednesday may be another good time for Henderson, but he needs to improve vastly before he's a regular starter.  

3. Theo Walcott Needs to Put Up or Shut Up

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    Theo Walcott burst onto the scene at just 17 years old and looked to be following in Wayne Rooney's footsteps, but he has not been able to capitalize on his early opportunities. 

    He was left off the 2010 World Cup roster and has incurred the wrath of Fabio Capello and his national teammates this week with the release of his autobiography (he's 22 by the way). 

    In it, he recounts stories of disobedience from the players and also portrays Capello as using fear to intimidate his players and even once threatened to "kill"the winger. 

    If those comments made the England camp mad, Walcott's performance Saturday will probably make them even madder. 

    Walcott's crossing was subpar all day, and he was easily controlled by Jose Enrique. Walcott also rarely used that pace he is so well known for, even with a 33-year-old Jamie Carragher in front of him.

    To be fair to him, Robin van Persie wasn't often in the middle for Walcott to aim at, despite him being the lone striker, but Walcott rarely made the right decisions against Liverpool.  

    Walcott still has plenty of time to prove he can be a fantastic player for England and Arsenal, but he's not doing much to help himself. 

4. Raul Meireles Won't Be Leaving Liverpool

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    Raul Meireles has surprisingly been the subject of transfer rumours this summer, and he's been on the bench for the first two Premier League fixtures for Liverpool this season. 

    But he won't be going anywhere. 

    He didn't have much chance to impact the game against Sunderland when he came on for Luis Suarez in the 75th minute, but against Arsenal, he was a huge substitution.

    Meireles and Suarez came on in the 70th minute after Arsenal were down to 10 men, and they clearly showed an understanding of each other's movement and created both Liverpool goals. 

    The Portuguese midfielder's only misplay in his appearance was in the build up to the first goal. Had he played in Suarez a second sooner, the Uruguayan would've been through on goal.

    Instead, he waited, and Suarez was a touch offside, and substitute center-back Ignasi Miquel hit the ball off Aaron Ramsey's chest to produce the ugliest of goals for Liverpool.

    Meireles has earned himself a spot in Kenny Dalglish's starting XI over Jordan Henderson.

    If anything, Meireles has made the Liverpool futures of Alberto Aquilani and definitely Joe Cole much murkier. 

5. Thomas Vermaelen Was Missing Piece Last Season

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    Thomas Vermaelen certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side Saturday.  The center-back was great for Arsenal against Liverpool.

    He played a big part in keeping 6'3" striker Andy Carroll quiet, and he picked up the Arsenal back line when Laurent Koscielny had to come off in the 14th minute and the young Ignasi Miquel was thrown into the action.

    Vermaelen's head was on the end of just about every Liverpool cross, and he almost got a toe to the ball before Luis Suarez could tap in Liverpool's second goal late in the game. 

    Vermaelen was out for just about all of last season with Achilles problems, and he was very much the missing link for Arsenal.

    Arsenal's downfall was their late collapses at the back, giving away soft goals when the Gunners had dominated the match.

    The Gunners will need to keep Vermaelen healthy this season because, as evidenced against Liverpool, their attack has been greatly weakened with the loss of Cesc Fabregas and possibly Samir Nasri.

    But that doesn't mean Arsene Wenger and Arsenal can afford not to bring in another center-back before the transfer window closes. 

6. Liverpool Need to Get Luis Saurez and Andy Carroll Clicking Together

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    Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll were both brought in to Liverpool on transfer deadline day in January, but the fanfare was focused much more on Carroll. 

    Suarez fixed that right off the bat.  The Uruguayan hit the ground running for the Reds, and he hasn't stopped. 

    Carroll had injuries to deal with in the second half of last season, and the strike pair didn't get much chance to play together. 

    It was surprising to see Carroll come off when Suarez was coming on at Arsenal, especially since Arsenal were down a man. 

    Suarez had Liverpool clicking the moment the stepped on the pitch, but he needs more time with Carroll, so the Englishman's Liverpool career can finally really get going. 

    Carroll is a clinical striker, but Liverpool have not looked deadly enough in front of goal as of yet. Carroll also hasn't been provided with the best opportunities up front. 

    Suarez is a player who makes everyone around him better, and Carroll needs that more than anyone. 

7. Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin Both Dead Weight

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    Samir Nasri very likely played his last match for Arsenal against Liverpool, but to be honest, the last match he actually played was in May.

    Nasri was very much a non-factor Saturday except for a couple of good passes and one surging run that ended with a shot going a couple yards wide of goal, all in the first half. 

    If it was the end, it was a very bland one. 

    Andrei Arshavin meanwhile likely won't be leaving the Emirates, and based on his performances of late, that's not good news.

    He had a very poor match against Liverpool, misplaying countless passes, easily losing or giving away the ball and simply looking lost. 

    When Arsenal desperately needed some flair and creativity in the side, the one-time magician was pretty much a waste of space, again.