Manchester United Tear Arsenal A New One

-by M with help from D

As Howard Webb blew his whistle to signal the end of the game,  there were no wild scenes of celebration by Manchester United players. Despite beating arch-rivals Arsenal by a record scoreline of 8-2.

It was almost as if the dire situation Arsenal F.C are currently in dampened the celebratory mood amongst the players. Somber handshakes were interchanged and consolatory pats on the back of Arsenal players were dished out by the United players. One wonders what kind words Wayne Rooney offered to Wojciech Szczensy then.

The bigger question however, still persists- how does Arsene Wenger lift his team up from such a terrible, morale-sucking defeat? It was not as if Arsenal were expected to come away with a result against a United side who were so rampant against Tottenham last weekend.

Devastated by injuries and suspensions to key players, coming away from Old Trafford with a point would still have been realistic after a confidence-boosting mid-week win over Udinese that secured the North London’s side entry to the Champions League group stages.

However, even the most pessimistic Arsenal fans would not have been able to imagine the kind of punishment United were about to dish out on their side. Rihanna’s “S&M” comes to mind for Arsenal fans looking for a song to accompany the repeat telecast.

The gulf in class was encapsulated by the polarizing benches both teams set out. United’s bench oozed of quality and experience. Being able to call upon a substitutes such as Dimitar Berbatov, Rio Ferdinand, Park Ji Sung, Fabio, Javier Hernandez and Anders Lindegaard was simply frightening.

On the opposite end, Arsenal’s bench of Lukasz Fabianski, Marouane Chamakh, Henri Lansbry, Gilles Sunu, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ignasi Miquel and Oguzhan Ozyajup was frightening as well; for the Arsenal fan that is.

And as the match began, the gulf in class became a chasm.

The tone of the match was set in the first 10-15 minutes as United were clearly the dominant force in the game. Despite being outnumbered in the engine room, the energetic duo of Cleverley and Anderson completely outran the patched-up midfield trio of Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin.

After Welbeck nodded in the opening goal after Arsenal’s backline failed to clear their lines quick enough, Arsenal fans knew that they were in for a long night.

Having said that, Arsenal had their chances. After Walcott was felled in the box by Jonny Evans, Van Persie had the chance to level the scoreline only for his dreadful penalty to be saved by David De Gea. Had the Dutchman levelled the proceedings then, the game may not have slipped away as drastically as it did.

And if you don’t take your chances at Old Trafford, the Red Devils will punish you. The irrepressible Ashley Young trotted up the pitch soon after and unleashed a screamer from 20 yards out that bent past Szczesny and into the top left hand corner.

From then on, the flood gates were well and truly opened. Rooney made it 3-0 with a delightful freekick in to the top corner before Walcott somehow managed to squeeze a shot through De Gea’s legs to make it 3-1 before the break.

The Spanish goalkeeper had a decent game in goal but was once again culpable for conceding Arsenal’s first goal. If there was a chink in United’s armour, De Gea has to be it.

Arsenal threatened United in the first few minutes of the second half, prompting optimistic Arsenal fans to hope for what would have been an amazing comeback. However, Rooney dashed the Gunners’ hopes with another brilliantly executed free kick. Whatever Wenger said in the dressing room at half-time became irrelevant.

In a 6 minute blitz thereafter, Nani produced a cheeky dink over Szczesny to make it 5-1 before Park, who was barely on the pitch for 5 minutes, tucked the ball into the bottom of the net with a left foot finish.

Van Persie’s goal was scant consolation for the Gunners as Carl Jenkinson, who is clearly not ready to play week in week out for Arsenal yet, was sent off for hauling down Hernandez. Rooney sealed his hat-trick from the penalty spot before Young, who must surely be United’s man of the match despite Rooney’s hat-trick, finished the scoring with another sublime curler from the edge of the box.

So where do both teams go from here now?

For Manchester United, the skies, or Barcelona, seem to be the limit. Ruthless, free-flowing and intricate passing football played at a breakneck pace characterizes United’s play while promising youngsters in Welbeck, Cleverly, Jones and Smalling continue to shine.

For Arsenal, the pressure just keeps mounting. Lying 17th in the table with eight senior players out due to injuries and suspensions, a beckoning international week is not what they need as there is as good as a chance as any that key players such as Robin van Persie will return injured.

Furthermore, two wins from the last 14 matches since their Carling Cup meltdown suggest that their slump started way before the season begun.

Having said that, it is still early days and the footballing fratenity’s propensity to celebrate and panic is irrationally high. Time will tell if United’s class of 2011 is the greatest of them all but Wenger may not be able to stay that long to see that.

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10 Conclusions: Exeter vs Liverpool and Udinese vs Arsenal

Arsenal players celebrate after Van Persie's goal.

-by D

 

Well, because footytube can only tell us so much about a game.

 

1) Fresh from Samir “i left for the more passionate City fans” Nasri departure and a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Liverpool, Arsenal were in an exceptionally vulnerable state. Surely a testy Champions League qualifier away from home, with 25million pounds worth of TV rights at stake, would be the last game they wanted to play in.

However, they showed a new-found mental resilience in spite of the gloomy times and inexperience within their squad (Frimpong, Ramsey and Jenkinson started the game) . Despite going down to a superb Di Natale header, the Gunners rallied and killed the game off with two well worked goals. Pretty impressive stuff and a fair bit of vindication for Wenger.

 

2) Wojciech Szczesny( i challenge anyone to get his name right without google) was bloody impressive. The absolutely stunning penalty save aside, the young Poland international was commanding throughout and made critical saves to halt a relentless Udinese side. Perhaps he’s the reason why Wenger did not acquire Shay Given or Mark Schwarzer over the summer.

 

3) Gervinho, who looks and plays like an odd mix of Adebayor and Drogba( wow imagine if those two hooked up), gave Arsenal some much needed muscle and dynamism up front. Playing primarily as a left winger, the powerful Ivory Coast international was threatening throughout as he made several dangerous forays into the heart of Udinese’s defence. One of those incursions set up a simple tap-in for Robin Van Persie that effectively killed the game off with a precious away goal.

 

4) It is really all not gloom and doom for Arsenal. Losing two of your star players cannot be good for there seems to be enough quality within their team to halt their dip in form and morale. With less than a week to go to deadline day, Arsenal fans would be having their fingers crossed for a marquee signing in the mould of Eden Hazard or Yann M’Vila to make everything seem brighter.

Having said that, all they need is a better medical team and Scott Parker really.

 

5) And because we love our Italian football as well, just how good is Antonio Di Natale. The Italian international kept Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou occupied the entire night with his clever darting runs and impressive hold-up play. Standing at a mere 5’7, he rose the highest to plant a fantastic looping header into the top corner to put Udinese back in the tie. The Udinese captain was unlucky not to add to his tally as his well struck penalty was brilliantly saved.

A quick Wikipedia search revealed that the 31-year-old has scored a whooping 112 goals in 228 games during his time and Udinese and in the 2010-2011 season, Di Natale had the best strike rate of any player in Italy, scoring 28 goals in 36 games with a strike rate of 0.78 goals per game. Oh and that’s a strike rate bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

 

6) Away from the glitz and glamour of the Champions League, Liverpool ground out a 3-1 victory over Exeter City. Fielding a strong lineup featuring Luis Suarez, Charlie Adam, Pepe Reina, Raul Meireles and Jordan Henderson, Dalgish’s charges ensured that there would not repeat of last year’s debacle, when Liverpool crashed out in the second-round on penalties at the hands of Northampton FC.

The starting line-up suggested that Liverpool will not take any competition lightly this year, especially given the lack of European football. Dalglish knows that any kind of silverware would generate a huge confidence boost to the club and suddenly, even the Carling Cup has taken on added significance.

 

7) Can Liverpool win a game without Luis Suarez? The Uruguay international was once again the creative hub of Liverpool’s attacks and caused havoc for the Exeter defence with his trickery and pace. After powering a half-volley from 10 yards out to put Liverpool ahead, the new Anfield cult hero set up Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll to put the game out of sight. As delightful as it is to watch him play, it is a tad worrisome that everything seems to come through him.

 

8) Which is why Andy Carroll should step up to the plate. While Suarez was credited an assist, Carroll’s goal was very much an individual effort. Surrounded by three players at the edge of the box, the man mountain showed good footwork to shift the ball onto his left foot. Subsequently, the thundering shot, which was hit from a stationary position, rifled into the top corner. Hopefully, for Liverpool and my fantasy team, the goal will give him to confidence to open the floodgates in the league.

 

9) This was the Liverpool bench a year ago against Northampton.

Hansen, Wisdom, Robinson, Shelvey, Eccleston, Ince, Amoo

Take a look at the Liverpool bench now.

Doni, Enrique, Carroll, Kuyt, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey

And trust me, the starting line-ups are a far cry as well. Funny how a year can change things eh.

 

10) And as a customary light-hearted/lazy conclusion, the Liverpool away jersey looks pretty good. Jersey of the year perhaps?

Yes, that’s how starved Liverpool fans are for any form of glory.

 

11) Just 3 more days to game week 3 and Manchester United vs Arsenal. Just keep swimming just keep swimming….

10 Conclusions: Arsenal vs Liverpool

Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez Share a Moment Together After Combining for Liverpool's Second. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images

-by D

1)      Liverpool were disciplined as they held their shape well and cut off Arsenal’s supply from the flanks, thus isolating a frustrated Robin Van Persie. Although Samir Nasri made a few dangerous forays through the middle, Reina was not really tested throughout. It was telling that a moment of ill-discipline cost Arsenal the game.

 

2)      Anyway, if anyone would like to know how M plays football, one does not have to look further than Jose Enrique.

 

Boasting a similarly muscular physique, the former Newcastle left-back put in an solid display- comfortably dealing with the threat of the swift but woeful Theo Walcott and consistently providing an attacking threat down the left flank. Liverpool’s left-back woes appear to be over.

 

You’re welcome M

 

3)      Shameless displays of guy love and back scratching aside, Liverpool were admittedly lucky to come away with the win.

 

Up till Frimpong’s unnecessary challenge, a makeshift Arsenal side matched Liverpool in every department. Whatever they lacked in experience certainly was not evident as Liverpool were restricted to futilely lumping the ball towards the direction of Andy Carroll.

 

If Van Persie had converted from 6 yards out and Balotelli’s twin did not lunge into Lucas (sounds wrong doesn’t it), Arsenal could have very well won the game. Still, discipline counts and pays off.

 

4)      And if they did, Thomas Vermaelen would have been the man-of-the-match. The Belgium international was bloody immense for the Gunners- snuffing out the much bigger Andy Carroll while guiding his makeshift backline that featured two 19-year-olds making their Barclays Premier League debuts.

 

Perhaps they biggest compliment one could pay him for his remarkable performance is that he suddenly made Arsenal ballsy. Who would have known.

 

5)      Speaking of ballsy-ness, Emmanuel Frimpong, Carl Jenkinson and Ignasi Miquel have lots of it. In Frimpong’s case, perhaps a bit too much.

 

Nevertheless the three 19-year-olds acquitted themselves well, putting up solid performances in their virgin Barclays Premier League game ( well frimpong played 30 minutes against Newcastle but let’s just take it as it’s his “first” time for a flowing sentence). Yes, Frimpong was brash. And yes Jenkinson played Suarez onside for the first goal. But we tend to forget how young these players are and their respective displays play testament to their undeniable talent.

 

Most importantly, they make us feel bad about ourselves. What were you doing at 19?

 

6)      And while we are on the topic of youngsters, Martin Kelly did pretty well didn’t he. Replacing the still slightly raw John Flanagan, Kelly carried on where he left off last season, when a hamstring injury curtailed his impressive run.

He kept Andrei Arshavin and Bacary Sagna quiet throughout while giving Liverpool attacking thrust on the right flank with surging runs. More importantly, he appears to be a better defender than Glen Johnson. The England international right-back should be worried for his spot in both the Liverpool and national team.

 

7)       Which is really a testament to Liverpool’s new-found squad depth. Even without Steven Gerrard, Fabio Aurelio and Glen Johnson, Dalglish was still able to put up a strong starting line-up and send on Raul Meireles and Luis Suarez off the bench, who proceeded to set up both goals.

 

Juxtaposed with last season when Liverpool could only muster Joe Cole and David Ngog to turn the tide, it’s a far, far cry in terms of quality. A pity that Alberto Aquilani was not given a chance though.

 

8)      It’s very presumptuous and premature but Andy Carroll doesn’t seem to fit in with Dalglish’s pass and move philosophy, which calls for Liverpool to play a high-tempo game with plenty of quick passes and swift movement.

 

Just like how the more mobile Hernandez and Welbeck are preferred over Berbatov over at Manchester United, Carroll may not be the man for Dalglish’s revolution. However, like I said, it’s very early and as such, I’d love to be proven wrong as the season goes by and Carroll gets fitter.

 

9)      My rage at Carroll stems from his pithy returns for my fantasy football league. No goals and assists and a bloody yellow card in two games for 10million pounds is really costing me. So forgive me if I do sound irrational.

 

10)  Back to the rational stuff. Without Luis Suarez, the Merseyside club appear to lack invention and penetration in the final third. An over-reliance on the Uruguay international to win them games may prove to be an issue.

 

While Steven Gerrard’s return may ease Liverpool’s dependence on Suarez to clinch matches, big money buys such as Andy Carroll, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson must alleviate the burden. A two-man team, as we all know, brings you no where.

 

11)And it is not all gloom and doom for Arsenal. The Gunners were unlucky to leave the Emirates without a single point as a patched up side matched an expensively assembled Liverpool side blow for blow throughout. If not for Frimpong’s brashness and Aaron Ramsey’s terribly unfortunate own-goal, the result may have gone Arsenal’s way.

 

If Vermalean, Szczesny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Sagna, Song and Van Persie manage to stay fit while starlets such as Frimpong, Jenkinson and Miquel continue to develop Arsenal still could get something out of this season. It is still early days mind you.

 

12) Which is why Liverpool fans should not start to hail this game as the second coming. Again. Let’s take it one game at a time guys.

 

13) Does anyone else miss Linda Pizzutti?

 

10 Conclusions: Sunderland vs Newcastle

-by M

  • In a game that started off so promisingly for Sunderland, they must be left kicking themselves for not capitalizing on what was a whirlwind start for them. They were out of the blocks faster and were quicker to every ball and winning most of the challenges against Newcastle who appeared to be stunned.
  • Definitely a Newcastle penalty. Larsson may not have intentionally handled the ball but the reality of the matter was he denied what would have been a Newcastle goal. How the linesman missed that is one question only he can answer. Could it be because Sunderland were the home team? Or just maybe he had Larsson on his fantasy team.
  • It’s funny how quickly a game of football can be changed after one single event. It seemed as if Sunderland were a little rattled after nearly conceding a penalty that they backed off a little and allowed Newcastle into the game. From then on, it was a keenly contested game right to the final whistle.
  • Did anyone else catch a glimpse of that awkward moment when Sessegnon was kneeling in front of Pardew and Pardew had both his hands on his head? (you will, it will definitely be on one of the leading sports websites)
  • Ryan Taylor is a lucky, lucky boy. If he had connected with his elbow on Gyan in the first half, he would have undoubtedly been sent off. However, he escaped punishment and scored the winning goal. Newcastle fans must be silently relieved that Taylor did not make contact on Gyan with his flailing elbow and that Webb did not catch the Newcastle man red-handed.
  • How Cabaye got away with his challenge on Phil Bardsley I will never know. His studs were showing, he was going at speed and caught the Sunderland full-back. The only probable reason was that Webb did not want to send a player off so early in the game given the game was a derby.  That challenge anywhere else might have seen a straight red for the Frenchman.
  • So in a sense, Phil Bardsley’s second yellow was somewhat fortuitous. It was a similar challenge as Cabaye’s on Gutierrez. Studs showing, foot high, sliding in at speed. Bardsley should consider himself lucky it was not a straight red.
  • Mignolet’s positioning has to be questioned for Newcastle goal. He was caught in no man’s land and misjudged the flight of the ball completely. While it was a good delivery by Ryan Taylor, Mignolet should have done better.
  • What is Lee Cattermole’s purpose on the field? It seems as if his sole aim in the game is to hack down as many opposition players as possible. The ‘Makelele’ role has gained some prominence in recent years but Cattermole is no Makelele. How some England fans can call for Cattermole to be in their team is beyond belief.
  • That said, was waiting for something to happen with Cattermole and Barton on the pitch. Afterall, what’s a derby without a little scrap?

After the Spaniard, It Could Be the Croat…

-by M

“You either sell him, go out and bring three or four players in and have a better team, probably, in all honesty, or you keep him,” was Redknapp’s frank reply when quizzed about the future of his classy playmaker Luka Modric, who has been pursued by Chelsea this whole summer..

Modric himself has already clarified that he wants the move to Stamford Bridge.

“I would like to go to Chelsea. A lot of players would like to go there and play for Chelsea because it is one of the best clubs in the world, and so do I. I would like to play there.” 

He has made it quite clear hasn’t he?

Citing the allure of the Champions League and a desire to win trophies, his preference of Chelsea may not go down well with Spurs fans who are fierce London rivals with Andre Villas-Boas’ side.

Redknapp himself has been adamant that Modric was going “nowhere” during pre-season but his recent statement suggests a weakening of the club’s stance.

It is no wonder that Redknapp does not want to lose Modric, who has to be the strongest skinny fella in the Premier League (much like Messi in La Liga). He has an exceptional first-touch, keen spatial awareness, deft dribbling abilities and remarkable strength on and off the ball. Quite a spectacular player really( D’s personal favourite).

While Tottenham fans would undoubtedly be upset with losing a fan favourite and one of the classiest playmakers the club and Premier League have seen in recent times, it will not be all doom and gloom at White Hart Lane.

Unlike their London rivals Arsenal, Redknapp has shown that he is not shy to splash the cash on players if the need or opportunity arises.

Modric will certainly fetch a fee in the region of 30m and upwards given his reputation in the Premier League and also including the fact that they are selling to one of their rivals. This money should and will be reinvested in players that could see Tottenham challenge for a top 4 spot again.

Assou-Ekotto may have impressed last season but his defending has always been suspect. A quality left-back such as Leighton Baines may be exactly what Spurs need to reinforce their backline. Given Everton’s inability to generate funds, a generous offer may tempt Everton to offload their player of the year and arguably England’s best left-back to Spurs.

Redknapp has also revealed that the team is in the process of bringing in Emmanuel Adebayor and Lassana Diarra. As unlikeable as both characters are given their affiliations to Spurs’ London rivals Arsenal, the duo boast quality and experience at the top level.

Spurs desperately need some steel in their midfield and a reliable 15-20 goals a season target man who is able to lead the line. Diarra and Adebayor fit the bill.

Also, Redknapp has hardly tapped into the transfer market this off-season, he could very well bring in a couple of new faces to add depth to his squad, especially since some of his players are frequent visitors to the treatment table (see Ledley King, Tom Huddlestone and last season, Van der Vaart).

More importantly, you know your squad needs a revamp when Jermaine Jenas is near the first-team.

Another key consideration for Spurs would be to ensure that if any deal is to be done, it should be done with enough time for Redknapp to reinforce his team. A repeat of the Berbatov saga should not occur, no matter how much the price may inflate. Redknapp himself has insisted that chairman Daniel Levy would not let that happen. “He won’t do that, no chance,” the Spurs manager stated.

With all that said and done, it still seems more likely that Modric would be at White Hart Lane at least till the January transfer window. As the transfer deadline approaches, it will be make or break time for Chelsea within the next few days if they are to snap up the highly rated Croat.

Either way, Spurs fans should still have reason for optimism for the upcoming season. If Bale is able to replicate his early season form of 2010/11 and Van der Vaart maintains his fitness, Tottenham will be right up there with the big boys come May 2012.

10 Conclusions: West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United

-by M

1. Manchester United’s performance was decent but nowhere near the brilliant second half they served up at Wembley last week. They started well off the blocks and looked to have West Bromwich pinned back for the first 10 minutes but they let West Bromwich back into the game after Rooney’s opening goal. Second half performance was not all that great as Ferdinand and Vidic struggled to cope with the immense Somen Tchoyi and West Brom’s record signing Shane Long.

2. On the other hand, West Brom were unlucky to have left the Hawthorns with nothing to show for. Despite a shaky start, they grew into the game and managed an equalizer despite being pinned back for most of the first 30 minutes. Somen Tchoyi led the line fantastically, using his strength against Fabio well and Long was making a nuisance of himself with the United defenders all day.

3. De Gea should have done much better for West Brom’s equalizer. It does not matter that De Gea’s only 20 years old, goalkeepers at that level of football should be saving those all day long. Long did well to create a yard of space against Smalling to squeeze his shot through but De Gea had it covered only for the ball to squirm under his body. While there is no doubt about the Spaniard’s pedigree, he did look decidedly nervous on his debut and would have been rattled by the physicality of the English game. If De Gea is to be successful in the United shirt, he surely needs to work more on the physical aspect of his game.

4. And he needs to shave.

5. Ashley Young was probably United’s stand out performer. He was brilliant on the left wing, tormenting Steven Reid and Chris Brunt all day. While it is only the first game of the season, Young has already shown he is capable of playing in a side like United and he has shown United fans why Ferguson was willing to splash out 18m on him.

6. West Bromwich’s stand out performers were  Somen Tchoyi and Shane Long. Tchoyi, despite being a midfielder, played the role of target man perfectly, picking up long balls and holding play up while support arrived. He gave the United defence a torrid time and would have been the most disappointed to have came out of the game with nothing. The same can be said for Shane Long. West Brom’s record signing was positive throughout the game and was a handful for the United back four despite his small stature.

7. Mulumbu was equally impressive in midfield. He kept Cleverley quiet all game and was strong in his tackles. If Hargreaves decides to join West Brom, it will be very difficult for him to displace the Congolese international.

8. Who knew that signing Phil Jones might prove so important so early on for Manchester United? With both Ferdinand and Vidic out for a couple of weeks and young Rafael out for 10 weeks with a shoulder problem, United fans and Ferguson must be thankful that they have Jones and Evans at their disposal. Yet, if both Ferdinand and Vidic are out, they might have to face the likes of Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal with a defence comprising of De Gea, Smalling, Jones, Evans and Fabio. That defence has an average age of less than 21.

9. Is Tchoyi  George Elokobi’s half brother?

10. Rooney still looks like Shrek after his hair transplant.

11. Yes, I struggled with the last two.

10 Conclusions: Liverpool vs Sunderland

-by D

Hello readers! As the season kicked off last night, we too have kicked off a new segment, “10 Conclusions”.

1)      Just how strange is it to see Wes Brown in a non-Manchester United Jersey and how must he feel to look over his shoulder and to see Anton Ferdinand, and not his more illustrious brother, Rio, playing alongside him in the heart of defence. Change is the only constant they say.

2)      If Rio were playing instead of Anton, Sunderland’s defence would have fully comprised of ex-Manchester United players. Kieran Richardson and Phil Bardsley made up the rest of the happy family.

3)      Brown still looks like he should be playing for Manchester United. The former England international superbly marshaled the man-mountain Andy Carroll (how the hell is he 22) and kept Sunderland in the game with a commanding display that Steve Bruce himself would have been proud of. If he keeps injury-free, the youngest-looking 30-year-old is looking a fine bargain.

4)        Sunderland’s Jack Colback is one to watch. The 22-year-old was a surprise starter but he fully relished his opportunity and shone in the middle of the park. While his counterpart Cattermole was attempting to accumulate as many offences as he could and drive Sunderland forward, Colback braved several nasty challenges and distributed the ball sensibly throughout. Jordan who?

5)      Luis Suarez could be the star of the 2011/2012 Barclays Premier League season not just in terms of goals scored, but simply for his entertainment value.

Although the Uruguay international skied his penalty, his movement, pace and dribbling caused Sunderland hell in the first-half. The £24million winter transfer window signing was rewarded for his efforts with a goal only after 12 minutes, as he cleverly met a fantastically whipped free-kick from Charlie Adam with his head from six yards out.

6)      “ Sunderland are short in numbers in midfield and to be able to add a player of Larsson’s quality to the team might be crucial to Sunderland’s performance this season.”

M

Now now don’t be shy M. It’s time to add talent-spotter to your resume. (that was from his top 10 BPL summer transfer by the way; cracking read even though there were a tad too many goal-keepers)

Shameless ego-stroking aside (that’s the only kind of stroking we do), the Sweden international was dangerous throughout; pinging cross field passes with remarkable accuracy, tormenting young Flanagan with his pace and sending in threatening balls into the Liverpool box.

Although the free-transfer from Birmingham should not have been given that much space to execute that stunning scissors-kick volley in the first place, he left Liverpool fans wondering whether he should have been wearing the red of Liverpool instead of the industrious but ineffectual Jordan Henderson.

7)      While we are on the topic of stunning goals, Linda Pizutti, wife of John Henry, is quite the stunner herself.

8 ) Just how impressive were Liverpool in the first-half? The rapid movement and accurate passing and the relentless harrying of opponents when their off the ball was the stuff of champions. Even as i slip into hyperbole, perhaps the only justifications for this claim is that M, a Manchester United fan, specifically told me to add this into the report and another Manchester United fan who watched the game with me actually praised Liverpool’s first-half performance.
You know your team played well when Manchester United fans say so. If Liverpool can keep up their high-tempo game throughout the 90 minutes, they are in for a special season.

9)      How disappointed must Alberto Aquilani and to a lesser extent, Joe Cole, feel. In a second-half crying out for some sort of inventive spark in the final-third, the in-form Italian could not be called upon because he was not good enough in Kenny’s eyes to make the squad. And David Ngog was on the bench.

10)      With the exception of Henderson, the rest of the summer signings who played did well. Downing and Adam gave solid debuts while Enrique did a decent job given that he signed only just 48 hours before the match. Even though the result did not go Liverpool’s way today, the investments should prove canny in due time. (I really, really hope so)

11)  Although shorn of first-team regulars Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard, like a certain Imogen Thomas, the Liverpool squad still looks pretty well stacked in all departments. Although another centre-half and forward would be nice, there is finally quality depth in the squad.

12) They do miss Stevie G do they. When their only creative spark, Luis Suarez, faded away as the game went by, there was no leader or inspirational figure to galvanize them. Liverpool had been known as a two-man team when a certain handsome Spanish striker was still around and 100million pounds later, they are still struggling to shed that tag.

13)   It’s the start of the EPL. Life has meaning again.