The last game of the weekend gave the fans a seven-goal thriller as Liverpool edged out Arsenal 4-3 in a grueling encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
After all the noise made about his transfer policy in the off-season, the last thing Arsene Wenger would have wanted was to start the new Premier League season with a defeat at home. Arsenal did not quite look up to the task on the day, and saw Liverpool take the initiative in the second half. Despite a late flurry of goals from the Gunners, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side held on to a slender one-goal lead to win the contest 4-3.
Here are The Hard Tackle’s winners and losers for the game:
It is hard to look past the Brazilian playmaker who turned the game around for his side. After going a goal down, it looked like Liverpool would struggle to get into the game. The Reds failed to create any telling goal-scoring chances and looked ragged in all parts of the pitch till they scored. However, just before the half-way mark, midfielder Philippe Coutinho stepped up to the occasion and scored an incredible free-kick that beat goalkeeper Petr Cech all ends up.
Coutinho picked up what he left off in the first period in the second half as played an incisive through-ball to Giorginio Wijnaldum who set up Adam Lallana for Liverpool’s second. Within minutes, the Brazilian added a third and the Reds held a comfortable two goal lead going into the last half hour of the game.
It was one of Coutinho’s finest performances for Liverpool. Due to his tenacity and skillfulness, Jurgen Klopp’s side managed to come away with maximum points despite conceding three goals. In fact, the Brazilian’s impact was so pivotal that after he was subbed-off, Liverpool failed to maintain a high tempo and ended up conceding two needless goals to give Wenger’s side a glimmer of hope.
The £35 million Liverpool signing put in an incredible performance in his side’s 4-3 victory over Arsenal. Many doubted his capability to live up to his price tag, but he duly complied and impressed his manager and fans alike.
In the post-match analysis, former Liverpool capain Jamie Carragher regarded Mane as an important signing for Klopp’s side. Mane ran with the ball from almost the halfway line before rounding off his first goal for his new side. Carragher stated (via Sky Sports): “Mane was already on the move when Lallana played the pass. I think last season, the same ball would go into someone’s feet because they didn’t have the pace to penetrate in behind defences. But with Mane you have that player.”
He undoubtedly brings that added zest in the Liverpool side and could go on to become one of his side’s key players as the season progresses.
Fans of other Premier League clubs
This was an ideal game for the neutral. Two big teams, lots of goals, moments of controversy – pretty much an ideal game for the last day of the week. After a fairly cagey opening day that saw no team win by more than one goal, the second day burst into life with a 3-1 win for Manchester United over Bournemouth which was followed by a heavyweight clash between Arsenal and Liverpool.
As many predicted, the game was an open, attacking one with both teams throwing bodies forward in search of a goal. Both sides held the upper hand at some stage, but never looked quite comfortable in consolidating on the lead. Defensively, the game was far from a spectacle, but offensively it was everything the fans had been crying out for. That’s the beauty of the Premier League!
After being made the scapegoat of Arsenal’s disappointing transfer window, Arsene Wenger had a game to forget against Liverpool. Opening day of the season, in front of their fans, the Gunners were expected to put up a show against a Liverpool side that had made a number of alterations pre-season. However, the Londoners failed to live up to the billing and ended up conceding a staggering four goals. Despite scoring two late goals, Arsenal did not seem to dominate the game and often looked like a disjointed unit.
This result could be a wake-up call for Wenger, who desperately needs to sign a world-class striker and centre-half before the transfer window draws to a close. He got his tactics and team selection wrong on the day and paid the price for it. Theo Walcott, despite scoring a goal did not look assured as a striker and Granit Xhaka had a debut to forget. Arsenal were booed off at the final whistle, and that pretty much summed up the current situation at the club.
Nothing seemed to be going right for Petr Cech on Sunday. Not only did he face the wrath of conceding a colossal four goals, he also reportedly crashed his car on his way out of the stadium.
On the field, the former Czech Republic international never looked comfortable. Coutinho’s first goal may not have been stopped by any ‘keeper, but Cech made a glaring error during Liverpool’s second goal. As Wijnaldum played the ball into the path of Lallana, the Arsenal keeper, rather than keeping an eye on his positioning, dragged himself towards the Englishman who reacted quickly to slot the ball home.
Even during Liverpool’s third goal when Lallana played in a low cross to Coutinho, Cech could have easily come off his line to claim the loose ball. Instead, the 34-year-old stationed himself on the goal line and the Brazilian easily hit the ball past him to double Liverpool’s advantage.
By far, the worst Premier League debut he could have dreamed of waking up on Sunday morning. Not named in the playing eleven, Granit Xhaka was brought on as a 66th minute sub and was arguably one of the worst players on the field.
As per Benjamin Newman of 101 Great Goals, the Swiss international set an unwanted Premier League record on the weekend as he committed the most number of fouls compared to any player in the eight other matches. Xhaka attempted six tackles and failed to win a single one of them. His passing was also not of the level the fans expected and it turned out to be a highly unconvincing performance from Arsenal’s only big-name signing this summer.