Friday, August 26, 2011

Arsenal Update: Rocky League Start-Newcastle & Liverpool

What a way to kickoff the new season!
It was a less than ideal kickoff to Arsenal's domestic campaign this season.  The first fixture of the year promised to be a challenging one: a trip St. James Park and a date with Newcastle United on opening day.  It was an afternoon full of drama...and full of discipline.  The official was liberal with his distribution of cautions and the match finished with eight yellows and one red card dispensed.  Arsenal created a host of chances and enjoyed possession for most of the match.  In his red and white debut, Gervinho had impressed with his quickness on the ball.  Late in the game, as he ripped down the left wing, he was felled by a cheap tackle from Tiote.  The ref waved play on but with almost a quarter hour left to play, Newcastle's controversial Joey Barton took issue with the Ivorian striker.  An embarrassing slapfest ensued and the Arsenal man was dismissed from his debut in ignominy.  For the remaining minutes, the Gunners were limited in their attack having gone a man down.  The affair would finish scoreless, the visitors would leaving the pitch with a point for their efforts, but no doubt disappointed, having controlled nearly the entire match.

Tough break for the young guns
Next on the docket in league action: hosting  Liverpool at the Emirates.  In what would prove to be Samir Nasri's last game in a Gunner's kit, the home side produced a stirring display.  That display however did not culminate in any Arsenal goals.  Several youngsters made their North London premier and the Emirates faithful were in full support.  There was good stuff from both sides in the first half as each team fired warning shots.  The heavens opened and the players were greeted by a downpour at the restart.  It was a frenzied atmosphere and the tension in the stands was palpable.  For the second time in as many games, an Arsenal man was dismissed in his opening match.  Having worked his way up through the reserve squad, Emmanuel Frimpong had played an excellent game in his first team debut.  However, eighteen minutes from time he was shown a second yellow card and sent to the dressing room early.  Liverpool sensed the weakness and threw themselves at their opponents.  Ironically, the breakthrough goal would have nothing to do with their attack.  With twelve minutes to play an Arsenal clearance by the freshly signed Ignasi Miquel connected with an inbound Ramsey and strangely sailed over the head of the goalkeeper.  The Reds had been gifted a goal in what was an otherwise rough, gritty struggle.  Luis Suarez tacked on another goal at full time to seal the deal.  Despite their ill fortune the Gunners played and lost with pride and all of Ashburton Grove made sure they were cheered off the pitch.  Next up:  Old Trafford and the infamous Manchester United.

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