Liverpool downed by Arsenal new boys

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Liverpool have made their worst start to a season in 50 years after losing 2-0 to Arsenal at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Goals from two of the Gunners’ summer arrivals, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, in either half got Arsene Wenger’s team their first win of the new season.

Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, will be frustrated at his team’s failings in front of goal and their inability to break down an impressive Arsenal defence.

Nuri Sahin almost moved to north London in the transfer window, but opted for Anfield in the end and made his debut here, though without any great success.

Theo Walcott has had an eventful week dealing with contract issues, so it was not a great surprise to see him consigned to the bench and youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain come in on the right.

There were a few concerns expressed before the game about Per Mertsacker’s vulnerability against the fleet of foot Suarez and these fears were confirmed after only five minutes when the Uruguayan nipped past the big defender and was hauled down on the edge of the area, earning the German a yellow card.

That shaky start was almost made worse in after 25 minutes when a sloppy pass by the Mertesacker allowed Raheem Sterling to run at the defence, but his progress was halted by a Mikel Arteta trip, earning the Spaniard a yellow card.

Liverpool’s 17-year-old winger was the most lively player in a red shirt, but even he was unable to unlock the much-improved and resolute Gunners defence.

Anfield was restless in a first half where their side couldn’t really click and the groans from a misplaced Steven Gerrard pass in the Arsenal half turned to cries of anguish when Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla swept up the field for the German to score his first competitive goal for the club and Arsenal’s first of the season.

That was after half an hour and was just rewards for Arsenal’s patient defending and swift counter-attacking, but the home side were almost level immediately.

Vito Mannone’s failure to deal with a cross allowed Gerrard to pick up the ball on the corner of the box, where he played in Sterling and, after a neat turn, the winger hit a high left-footed shot against the post.

Brendan Rodgers’ side were pushing hard, but could not get the breakthrough they wanted and the biggest shout before half time were penalty claims for a Mertesacker challenge on the impressive Sterling, but Howard Webb waved them away correctly, as the defender had just got his toe on the ball.

New striker Olivier Giroud could have doubled the lead just before half-time, but his wait for a first Arsenal continued after he was unable to finish a good chance presented to him by Abou Diaby.

Arsene Wenger’s side grew in confidence as the game wore on and Liverpool’s lack if striking options on the bench following the loan of Andy Carroll to west Ham will worry Reds supporters.

The Gunners were happy to play on the counter-attack and it was the pair who combined for the opener that linked up for the second goal with a little over half an hour left in the game.

This time Podolski was provider to Cazorla, who hit a powerful near post shot that Pepe Reina could do nothing about but divert it into his goal.

It was a satisfying afternoon for Wenger with two of his summer signings making the difference and a new-found defensive stability earning his side the win – it’s the first time in 88 years an Arsenal side has kept clean sheets in each of their opening league fixtures.

This success is in great contrast to Liverpool, who have now made their worst start to a season in 50 years and Rodgers will questioning how he can turn his side’s goal problems around with limited attacking options.

It capped off a mediocre week for the Merseysiders, but Arsenal will return to north London with renewed belief that this year could be the one that sees their trophy drought end.

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Steven Gerrard

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