August 15th, the day marked on every Reds’ fans calendar – just a shame we couldn’t produce the result worthy of the anticipation.
A new season started for the Reds today and with fixtures approaching such as Man City and Rabotnicki, a win today was almost a necessity to keep the momentum going – and it would have been so had it not been for a fluke own-goal by Pepe Reina.
This was a game for debutants in the Premier League for Liverpool too – both Milan Jovanovic and Joe Cole.
In a fairly uneventful first-half, Arsenal started the match on the front-foot, keeping possession well and mainly dominating the midfield.A chance reared its head for Liverpool fairly quickly, however, when Kuyt tried to square the ball to Jovanovic in the box, only for Almunia to quicky pounce on it.
Arsenal kept seeing more and more of the ball, and carried on upping the pressure on the Reds defence, but creating virtually no chances as the Liverpool rearguard held strong.
After a quick break, Liverpool ended up winning a corner, which Almunia flapped at and Kuyt couldn’t quite get on the end of.
Just before the half-time whistle, one of the debutants in Joe Cole made what appeared to be a two-footed challenge on fellow debutant for Arsenal – Koscielny.
Martin Atkinson quickly made the decison to send Joe Cole off – and Liverpool ended up playing the remainder of the game with 10-men.
That didn’t appear to matter after the break, however, as want-away Javier Mascherano played in N’Gog in the Arsenal box, who shot and beat Almunia at his near-post. And what a cracker of a goal it was too! 1-0 Liverpool.
10-man Liverpool kept cranking up the pressure on the Gunners, and should have had a second when Skrtel headed narrowly wide from Gerrard’s corner. The Reds were on fire.
Arsenal slowly started playing their way into the game after countless Liverpool attacks and corners which ended up being fruitless, but couldn’t make their possession count. Zero chances.
Jovanovic made way for Maxi Rodriguez on 65 minutes. The Serb had a truly excellent game, and is proving to be a diamond of a free-transfer from Standard Liege.
Torres was also readied and subbed on afterwards, replacing the goalscorer David N’Gog – both players were brought off (and on) to a standing ovation from the Kop.
Afterwards, Arsenal managed to carve out an opening for Rosicky which Reina did superbly well to palm over the bar. The Reds appeared to be hanging on by a thread.
Things got worse when Daniel Agger had to leave the field due to concussion after being hit in the face by a Sagna cross earlier in the game. But the Dane insisted he had to play on and came back, concussion and all, to play his part in defence. Liverpool were effectively playing with 9-men though.
Arsenal’s breakthrough came on the 89th minute, when Rosicky fired a cross into the box. Reina appeared to mis-judge it. Chamakh caught it, hit it onto the post, and it bounced off the Spaniard and into the goal. 1-1.
It was a brave display by the Reds in the second-half especially, but you’d be forgiven for thinking we should have won the game.