Result: Liverpool 1 – 1 Arsenal (Ngog 46’, Reina [OG] 90’)
Touted as the big match of the opening Premiership weekend, Liverpool and their new manager hosted an Arsenal side sporting ridiculously shining yellow attires. The football on display was not far from shoddy and both teams looked disinterested in the first half. Arsenal, as a part of training ground custom, passed the ball among each other without any purpose. Liverpool sat in their own half and decided to ‘Mourinho’ Arsenal’s attack, while keeping the leggy Ngog ahead, in case he would be of any need during counter-attacks.
In middle of all the melancholy, Thomas Vermaelen sent a screamer towards the Liverpool goal and Jose Reina parried it away with some difficulty. On the other side, Liverpool’s hairless new signing Milan Jovanovic wasted a decent chance by shooting at the stars.
A few minutes later, Manuel Almunia made an excellent tip-over-post save to a thundering Glenn Johnson left-footed drive. Just before half-time, Joe Cole was sent off for the first time in his career for a rash challenge on Laurent Koscielny. ‘Football pundits’ believed it deserved just a yellow card, but then football pundits never agree to referees anyways.
Koscielny, who was ‘stretchered off’ on account of that Joe Cole tackle, happily jogged his way into the scheme of things in the second half, much to the surprise of the Anfield faithful. Almost immediately after the break, Ngog sent a cracking shot past a dazed Almunia in a tight angle, after being sent through by Javier Mascherano to hand Liverpool lead against the run of play.
By the hour mark, Arsenal replaced Wilshere and a disappointed Eboue with Theo Walcott and Thomas Rosicky. It was a tactical change and many believed ‘things’ would change and the momentum would shift. But, nothing of that sort happened. Arsenal played ‘their game’ and didn’t bother Reina except for one brilliant move by Rosicky, which forced the Spaniard into a great leaping save.
An injured Daniel Agger, with a possible concussion, made it almost nine and a half men for Liverpool, but it failed to motivate Arsenal to change the tempo of their game. The match seemed to end with Liverpool pulling off a historic win on the opening day of the season, but alas, Reina had other plans.
Otherwise a safe head, the Spaniard ineptly pushed the ball into back of his own net after Chamakh tried scoring from a Rosicky cross in the dying moments of the match. Before the final whistle, the referee showed second yellow and subsequent red to Arsenal debutant Koscielny for handling the ball, which looked more ludicrous than Arsenal’s football this evening.
TheHardTackle’s Player of The Match:
Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
The Liverpool captain looked like a man on a mission, as he led his team with an immaculate ‘presence’ all over the field. Inspirational performance from the veteran playmaker.
TheHardTackle’s Joke of The Match:
Andrei Arshavin (Arsenal)
The first goal happened because of a mindless pass from the Russian to the path of Mascherano. Apart from that, Arshavin regularly lost balls in the field and never tried to recover them back.
TheHardTackle’s Referee’s Report Card
Martin Atkinson – ‘D’ (Poor)
The referee was wide off the mark with most of his decisions. The ‘Joe Cole’ sending off was harsh while the Koscielny ‘red card’ was ridiculous.
Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal
Venue: Anfield, England
Liverpool line-up: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Skrtel, Gerrard, Jovanovic (Maxi 65′), Mascherano (Lucas 78′), Kuyt, Cole, Ngog (Torres 73′)
Unused Subs: Cavalieri, Aurelio, Babel, Kelly
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Cautions: Gerrard – 71′
Sent Off: Joe Cole – 45′
Scorers: Ngog – 46′
Arsenal line-up: Almunia, Clichy, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Diaby(van Persie 75′), Nasri, Eboue (Walcott 59′), Sagna, Wilshere (Rosicky 59′), Arshavin, Chamakh
Unused Subs: Fabianski, Vela, Song, Gibbs
Manager: Arsen Wenger
Cautions: Wilshere – 41′, Rosicky – 85′, Koscielny – 92′
Sent Off: Koscielny – 94′
Scorers: Reina [OG] – 90′