EPL Review: 6 Overwhelming Positives for Arsenal in Their Loss to Liverpool
Arsenal registered their first defeat of the 2011/2012 Premier League season with a 2-0 loss at home to Liverpool, signifying that this campaign will not emulate the success of Arsene Wenger's 2003/2004. However, despite the claims and criticism, it was hardly a disgrace for Arsenal, far from it.
The Reds' managed to take the lead 12 minutes from time courtesy of a freak own goal by Aaron Ramsey. It came shortly after Arsenal youngster Emmanuel Frimpong received a second yellow from Martin Atkinson. Luis Suarez then doubled the lead in injury time.
It was a strong Liverpool XI, boasting all of their marquee signings acquired during the Summer that accumulated to over £50 million. Arsenal were without Alexandre Song and Gervinho through suspensions, whilst England internationals Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, along with Johan Djourou, were absent from injury.
It worsened when key defender Laurent Koscielny succumbed to a back injury and had to be substituted in the 16th minute.
Fans and critics believe Wenger has lost the plot and it is set to be a long season in which the Gunners' will fail to break the top four, even the top six. Others have voiced their opinion that in a week's time Arsenal will be out of the UEFA Champions League and have one point from three EPL encounters.
In truth, Wenger should never have let the situation get to such a point. Captain Cesc Fabregas departing to Barcelona was inevitable yet the Frenchman failed to conquer a replacement. Exciting Spaniard Juan Mata, who was eager to join the Emirates, is now set to secure a move to Chelsea.
Samir Nasri is set to leave, too, and despite an improved transfer budget, Wenger has spent just £25.5 million on OSC Lille striker Gervinho and young winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Furthermore, there is just over a week left in the Summer transfer window.
However, although Arsenal did taste bitter defeat, someone sweet, Bleacher Report, establishes six overwhelming positives for Arsenal from the defeat to Liverpool.
6. Emmanuel Frimpong Will Be Very Strong for Arsenal
It was not the ideal full Arsenal debut for Emmanuel Frimpong, with the teenager enduring a red card, but before his ejection, Frimpong had been a strong and commanding presence in the Gunners' midfield.
It was always set to be tough for the Arsenal midfield with Alexandre Song serving a three match ban for stamping on Joey Barton.
The renowned defensive midfielder provides the Arsenal midfield with sustainability and strength; however, Frimpong proved just as effective with a no-nonsense, physical defensive approach and a stable figure in attack.
The 19-year-old's eagerness was epitomized by his sending off, as Frimpong showed he had the ability to offer Arsenal the somewhat lacking heart and determination.
The Ghanian will gain much experience from his first start with the Gunners' and is set to have a break through season in 2011/2012.
Alexandre Song departs in January for a month due to commitments with Cameroon in the African Cup of Nations; however, there is little to worry for Arsenal fans, as Emmanuel Frimpong can fill the void and possibly leapfrog Song.
5. Wojciech Szczesny Is a Calm, Composed and Safe Presence
For sometime Arsenal were taunted with the accusation their keepers were simply insufficient to Premier League capabilities. The form of Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski in previous seasons had exposed Arsenal to the belief that their keepers were costing the Gunners trophies.
However, it is certainly not the case for 2011/2012. After seizing his opportunity during the second half of last season, 20-year-old Wojciech Szczesny has ceased to look back as Arsenal's first-choice keeper.
The young Polish shot stopper has been in sublime touch since the season started and was unable to thwart the two conceded goals.
The North London giants used to possess a frailty from set pieces; however, Szczesny is quickly eradicating that problem with his strong, decisive approaches. Furthermore, the Poland international is just 20 and will only improve.
4. Wenger Can Play Teenage Wingers Ryo Miyaichi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Despite Samir Nasri's inclusion, naturally Arsenal's attack lacked efficiency and a clinical touch. In the final third, the decisive ball never materialized.
One of the main reasons Wenger's men were unable to adequately threaten Liverpool's goal was the lack of impact enforced by wingers Andrei Arshavin and Theo Walcott.
The wing is a dynamic part of the Arsenal attack and the duo were either anonymous, losing the ball or failing to find a target.
Walcott was unable to penetrate the Liverpool defence with his devastating speed alongside rarely managing to cross, whilst Andrei Arshavin's skill and movement were nonexistent.
However, this shows and offers Wenger the opportunity to utilize his teenage wing stars Ryo Miyaichi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Both have yet to make their Arsenal debut but are held in high regard by Wenger and European football. Miyaichi arrived in January and was subsequently loaned to Dutch giants Feyenoord, where the Japanese dynamo thrived.
Amassing 12 appearances, three goals and five assists, the 18-year-old became an attacking force in the Dutch Eredivisie and acquired the nicknames "Ryodinho" and "Japanese Messi" alongside drawing comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo.
After an emphatic preseason, Wenger rejected a chance for Miyaichi to return to Feyenoord on loan and worked tirelessly to acquire a work permit for the Japanese U-19 star. Now Wenger has the opportunity to use Ryo Miyaichi.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of the most chased prospects the Summer after emerging as one of the best teenagers in England. The Englishman had a superb 2010/2011 with 43 appearances and 10 goals for Southampton, alongside a place in the PFA League One Team of the Year.
Wenger secured the winger in January for £15 million, and it is clear Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can play.
3. Arsenal Are Tough
Several key players missing, a make shift left back, two teenagers making their full Arsenal debut and a key defender is forced off barely a quarter of the game achieved.
Then, a player is sent off with just over 10 minutes to go, resulting in Arsenal scoring a freak own goal that all but grants Liverpool a win.
The Gunners were tough. Wenger's men conveyed a renewed sense of eagerness and strength that has been lacking in recent years. Encountering a virtually full strength, expensive roster in Kenny Dalglish's side, Arsenal dug deep but were sadly overrun by a lack of luck.
Had Frimpong stayed on the field, the result surely would differ.
In Arsenal's previous matches this season, the Gunners' again have not performed particularly efficiently or strongly, yet continue to threaten.
Considering the team that was played and the circumstances that arose, the Gunners were tough, and that is only going to provide benefit as the season ages.
2. Thomas Vermaelen Is Quite Possibly the Best Defender in the Premier League
Thomas Vermaelen was superb against Liverpool. The Arsenal vice-captain led from the front, constantly thwarting Liverpool's attacks and ensuring that imposing striker Andy Carroll failed to impose his presence on the match.
The Belgian, who managed just five games last season due to a persistent Achilles injury, was forced to deal with an inexperienced and makeshift defensive line yet continue to convey the highest calibre performance.
There have been many calls for Wenger to sign a centre back since the summer started due to the frailties evoked last season; however, Vermaelen's return from injury emulates a new defensive signing.
The former Ajax enforcer, who arrived in 2009 for £10 million and in his first season made the PFA Team of the Year, shares an gradually impressive partnership with Laurent Koscielny and can also perform strongly with Johan Djourou.
Comments have arisen that had Vermaelen featured consistently last season, then surely a trophy would have arisen for Wenger. The natural leader's renewed presence highlights several reasons why it is not all bad for Arsenal fans.
1. Reinforcements Will Arrive
It will only improve for Arsenal. Internally, Alexandre Song and Gervinho will return, whilst Jack Wilshere's rejuvenated presence will be a huge bonus for the Gunners.
Furthermore, with Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny hopefully able to eradicate their respective injuries, Arsenal will boast a strong starting XI and bench.
Wenger will also sign a player before the summer ends, it is a sure thing. Who the player is remains to be seen, but fans can expect a big name, expensive signing which will enhance the depth of Arsenal.
People are writing off the North London giants, but with time and reinforcements, there is no denying that there will be some chance for Arsenal to win something.