LONDON: Lukas Podolski is off and running. It needed just over two games to open both his scoring account in the Premier League and that of Arsenal this season for the 2-0 win at Anfield which helped add up to Liverpool’s worst start to a season in 50 years.
The comparative state of both teams was summed up by the manner of Podolski’s first-half goal. A misplaced pass from Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was picked up by Arsenal and Santi Cazorla provided the defence-splitting pass on which Podolski capitalised.
Arsenal were united and cohesive; Liverpool looked confused and painfully short of confidence.
The Gunners had not needed a late flurry of action in the transfer window this year, as they did last year after the late departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas.
Manager Arsene Wenger was satisfied that he had signed the men he needed for the season even after the departure of Robin Van Persie and while uncertainty remains about the future of England winger Theo Walcott whose contract expires next summer.
Very different for Liverpool. The summer optimism which accompanied the arrival of new manager Brendan Rodgers has evaporated already. The fans had expected him to be accompanied by a clutch of bright new signings but they did not materialise. Not only that but Clint Dempsey preferred, after two months’ speculation to go to Tottenham.
Liverpool have been out of the Champions League for so long that they no longer possess the old transfer market magnitude. This may even be starting to affect the mentality of their most important players.
Gerrard was suffering one of his poorest games for a long time while Suarez fell over far too often for his team’s good or even to attract the referee’s sympathy.
Liverpool had more of the possession, as expected of a Rodgers team, but accomplished little with it. They have not now beaten Arsenal at home in six games and the decision to loan out Andy Carroll to West Ham means they do not possess even one out-and-out striker.
Nor, after releasing Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy, do they possess men with the knack of scoring goals in important games.
Contrast that with Arsenal. The Gunners can score goals from attack and midfield – Cazorla scored the second midway through the second half – and their defence is demonstrating a new-found solidity.
Steve Bould, once a defensive rock alongside legendary Tony Adams, has stepped up this season as first-team coach in place of retired Pat Rice. The success of his work is demonstrated by Arsenal’s three clean sheets thus far.
On that foundation Podolski should expect to score many more goals.
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