Arsenal vs Liverpool: Reds Players Rating and Post-Match Analysis

Nabeel KhokharCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2011

Arsenal vs Liverpool: Reds Players Rating and Post-Match Analysis

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    Liverpool came to the Emirates Stadium this afternoon to face an Arsenal team that has been rocked in recent days by the departure of their captain and influential playmaker Cesc Fabregas and bereft of others, through injury and suspension.

    The Reds had never won an English Premier League encounter at Arsenal's new home, their last win coming at Highbury courtesy of a Titi Camara goal, more than eleven years ago.

    New full-time manager Kenny Dalglish had presided over his first opening day match in the English Premier League with the Reds last week and could only register a lackluster draw with Sunderland.

    But there probably was not a better time to play the Gunners, and Liverpool looked to take full advantage of this.

    The Reds ended the afternoon—looking to be another frustrating one until around the 70th minute—with a 2-0 away win.

    But how did the Liverpool players play this afternoon, despite the club registering its first win at the Emirates?

Pepe Reina

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    Player Rating: 7 / 10

    Liverpool's Spanish stopper Pepe Reina had another solid afternoon between the stick for the Reds.

    There were times that Reina had little to do, but he kept his concentration and pulled off good saves when he was called upon.

    His catching and punching was top class and his command of the box was exemplary. 

    Reina's distribution and clearance was also up to his usual high standards. 

    Although a clear foul in the Liverpool box should have resulted in a free kick for the Reds, defenders and Reina himself raising their arms to claim it, the referee waved play on. The Liverpool keeper was quick to react to a snap shot coming in from Robin van Persie.

    Another solid performance from one of Liverpool's most consistent performers.

Martin Kelly

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    Player Rating : 8 / 10

    Martin Kelly is one of Kenny Dalglish's favorite players and as soon as he became available, Dalglish brought him straight back into the starting lineup.

    Kelly once again did not let Dalglish down and put in another performance of maturity and confidence that belies his young years.

    Any threat from Arsenal's dangerous wingers—Andre Arshavin and Theo Walcott—was nullified by Kelly as he had them both in his back pocket all afternoon.

    His pace and power is also coming into the fore and his development looks set to make the position of right back a real fight between him and Glen Johnson.

    Another composed and assured displayed. Arguably one of Liverpool's best players in today's win at Arsenal. 

Jamie Carragher

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    Player Rating : 6 / 10

    Jamie Carragher was not at his most influential nor dominating this afternoon, but then he was not really required to be.

    He was quietly efficient and effective all afternoon. In the 63rd minute, he slid in, in typical Carragher fashion, to cut out a cross that would certainly have led to Pepe Reina having to pick the ball out of his net.

    Carragher is coming into the twilight of his long and commanding Liverpool career and we may see more of these quiet afternoons from the defender from Bootle, Liverpool. As captain today, in the absence of Steven Gerrard, Carragher was solid and there when Liverpool needed him.

    Distribution and passing has never been Carragher's strong suit and this afternoon, there was the occasional and frustrating "Carra hoof." Due to these occasional boots up the pitch to no one in particular, Carragher cannot be given any higher score.

    Quietly effective and there when called upon, but a few too many boots up the pitch were the only bloats on his copybook this afternoon.

Daniel Agger

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    Player Rating : 6 / 10

    Daniel Agger did not pick up an injury and came through the afternoon unscathed. What a relief for his Kenny Dalglish and Liverpool fans.

    This afternoon, Agger was efficient and effective. His distribution and passing is far more potent than Jamie Carragher's and his cultured left foot is invaluable to Liverpool's defense.

    Agger also showed confidence on the ball, with some penetrative runs out of defense deep into Arsenal's half.

    Aerially, Agger coped with whatever Arsenal threw at him, which was not much that would have led the calm Dane to panic.

    His partnership with Carragher is still developing, and at times there were some communication issues resulting in some positional matters that Agger will need to work on.

    All in all, a composed and assured outing for the big Dane, whose more important contribution this afternoon was not to have picked up an injury.

Jose Enrique

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    Player Rating : 7 / 10

    Has Jose Enrique really only played two games for the Reds? For it seems that he has been playing for Liverpool far longer than that; so well has he slotted into the left side of Liverpool's defense.

    Enrique does not need to do much more than what he was doing for his former club Newcastle United last season, during which he performed so well for them.

    Liverpool's new left back did not give an inch to Arsenal's main attacking threat Theo Walcott. As with Liverpool's other fullback, Enrique had the better of his opponent on most occasions and nullified the threat of Walcott almost completely.

    Enrique was also impressive going forward with one mazy run in particular. Whenever he ventured forward, he did so with confidence and purpose.

    Kenny Dalglish seems to have solved Liverpool's left back problem with the acquisition of Enrique and the more he trains and plays with his new teammates, the better he will get.

    Enrique is showing that he is going to be an integral part of Liverpool's back four this season and for seasons to come.

Stewart Downing

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    Player Rating : 5 / 10

    Maybe I am being a little hard on new signing Stewart Downing, but I am still not convinced by him. 

    From a standing position, Downing has little in his locker to get him past a defender. His strength is running on to a ball played over the top, where he can race the defender, and whip in a cross.

    Granted, Downing did not have a poor afternoon, but neither did he set the Emirates on fire. And my fear is just that—Downing is never likely to set any venue on fire.

    There are far too many occasions when Downing receives the ball and has the opportunity to really attack the opposing defender, but opts to stop and then send a sideways ball infield or backwards.

    This afternoon, the Liverpool winger sent in a few good balls and created a few chances for his team mates. I guess that is what he has been bought for.

    A real strength though is when he cuts in and unleashes his powerful shot—something that will get him goals this season.

    Neither eye catching or disappointing, Downing was just there on the wing today.

Charlie Adam

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    Player Rating : 4 / 10

    This afternoon we saw a side of Charlie Adam that we may see during games away from Anfield.

    Due to his obvious lack of pace, Adam was not at all up to the pace of the game; hence the midfield was left a little exposed at times.

    His trusted left foot sent in some wicked free kicks, but also some awful ones.

    A first half display lacked any commanding aspects and Arsenal's more dynamic midfielders played the game at a pace that passed Adam by.

    Once the Reds had a player advantage, Adam's command and influence on the game grew and he began to make things tick in the centre.

    However, this was not a display that Adam or Liverpool fans would like to see too many more of.

    Started reasonably, fell away and disappeared as the game progressed and came into it more when Liverpool had a man advantage.


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    Player Rating : 5 / 10

    Lucas was the subject of a terrible challenge that saw Liverpool take advantage of Arsenal losing a man, but the Brazilian was lucky to walk away from the tackle.

    At times, Lucas was left horribly exposed in the centre of midfield by a static and immobile Charlie Adam.

    Arsenal's dynamic midfielders also gave Lucas and his mates the runaround at times.

    However, the Brazilian is no mug and is now an experienced Premier League central midfielder and as the game progressed, he began to assert himself more in the game.

    Not the most commanding of displays by Lucas, but he was not given too much assistance by his fellow central midfielder. Nevertheless, nothing more than an ordinary outing for the Brazilian.

    Lucas was no more than average this afternoon.

Jordan Henderson

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    Player Rating : 4 / 10

    The player with the most to prove again came up short this afternoon. Jordan Henderson was again in the starting lineup, but again really did not come up trumps.

    In the first half, Henderson looked too far off the pace of the game, which seemed to be passing him by. Too many of his passes were either sideways or backwards and there were times when he seemed to stem an attacking move with a misplaced or sideways pass.

    The only real highlight of his afternoon was his coming into the box to take a headed chance in the first half, but his header showed little conviction and was easily saved. At least he made the run and that was promising in itself.

    The infuriating issue with Henderson is that when he loses the ball—and that is quite often—he does not hustle and track back to get it back, but simply admits defeat.

    Henderson will really need to up his game as there are other midfielders on the bench that will be snapping at his heels—and those of the manager—to be given their chance unless the young Englishman improves.

    An undynamic and uninspiring display lacking in confidence; a big improvement is needed, and fast, as others are lining up for his starting place.

Dirk Kuyt

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    Player Rating : 5 / 10

    Another all action display from the Dutch superman Dirk Kuyt. 

    Kuyt is an example to all his younger teammates of what chasing back and determination is all about.

    Playing up front with Andy Carroll, Kuyt played his usual game of consistency and power.

    Although he had few chances, having Kuyt in the starting lineup gives the team a more balanced look about it.

    Not too much to write home about, but a typical all action display from the Dutchman.

    All energy and determination that Jordan Henderson would do well to emulate.

Andy Carroll

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    Player Rating : 5 / 10

    Andy Carroll is slowly starting to get back to full fitness and the big centre forward showed glimpses of a return to form this afternoon.

    Carroll's fitness is still not 100 percent, and the big striker is struggling in front of goal.

    His best chance came in the 20th minute, when he angled his neck to send a powerful header that was fielded by the Arsenal goalkeeper.

    Although he did not have any further clear-cut chances, Carroll was always a threat and a constant maniac to the Arsenal defense.

    His work off the ball is also improving and the guidance of Kenny Dalglish will give Carroll more confidence.  His scoring touch will return.

    Getting stronger and more of a threat with every game.

Raul Meireles

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    Player Rating : 8 / 10

    The heavily tattooed Portuguese star Raul Meireles came on in the 72nd minute and suddenly Liverpool's midfield became dynamic and moved forward with pace and purpose.

    He combined well with Luis Suarez and was an exemplary link between the midfield and attack.

    Meireles powered forward with determination and looked like a player with a point to prove. He had a great last part of last season and was such a revelation under Kenny Dalglish. 

    The Portuguese midfielder has lost his starting place and by the looks of his play, he wants it back.

    He was instrumental in Liverpool's win this afternoon and was very unselfish in squaring the ball to Suarez for the Reds' second and decisive goal.

    On this display, Meireles deserves a starting place and Liverpool looked a much more dynamic outfit with him in the team.

Luis Suarez

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    Player Rating : 9 / 10

    Luis Suarez sat on the bench this afternoon until the 72nd minute when he was introduced to a game that looked to be going towards a draw.

    Then two things happened that turned the game for the men from Anfield: Arsenal got a man sent off and in the ensuing consequent substitutions, Kenny Dalglish sent on Suarez.

    The impact was instant. Liverpool's attack suddenly became more fluid and paced. Suarez's movement and creativity is infectious and the whole team seemed lifted by his presence.

    His presence and determination caused havoc in the Arsenal defense and the result was confusion which ended with the ball ricocheting off Aaron Ramsey and looping into the net.

    Liverpool's lead brought Arsenal out of their shell and this left space for Suarez to exploit.

    A slick move on the right led to Lucas sending Raul Meireles through and the Portuguese star unselfishly squared for Suarez to tap into an empty net.

    Liverpool had won for the first time at the Emirates and ended an eleven and a half year wait for an away win against the Gunners.

    Suarez is Liverpool's trump card and Dalglish was wise to keep him until the last 20 minutes, thereby not exhausting the Uruguayan superstar.

    If Liverpool are to be title contenders this season, they will need a fit and healthy Suarez. 

    A 20 minute cameo was enough for Suarez to influence the result and give Liverpool a history win and get their campaign off the ground.