After The Match 


Liverpool-Arsenal 1-1 (0-0)        15.8.10                             PL
Goals: Ngog (46)     Reina 90(og)
Team: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Carragher, Mascherano, Gerrard, Cole, Jovanovic, Kuyt, Ngog
Subs: Rodriguez (Jovanovic 66), Torres (Ngog 74),
Lucas (Mascherano 78)
Not used: Cavalieri, Babel, Kelly, Aurelio
Yellow: Gerrard (73)    
Wilshire (41), Rosicky (85), Koscielny (93, 95)
Red: Cole (45)          Koscielny (95)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 44,722
Shots on target: 4-3
Shots off target: 4-8
Blocked shots: 1-6
Fouls conceded: 15-17
Corners: 9-11
Offsides: 5-1
Possession: 35.9-64.1
Yellow: 1-4

the fans enjoyed
the spectacle."
Roy Hodgson
1708: Carra motivated by critics
1708: Great to see spirit return to Liverpool FC
1708: Good times will arrive at Liverpool FC
          - and hopefully a new striker too

1608: Gerrard: Reds still buzzing
1608: Reds won't contest three-match Cole ban
1608: Ngog: I want to stay at Anfield
          and score more goals for Liverpool

1608: Wenger: LFC will challenge
1608: Why Roy Hodgson can’t let his Liverpool FC Masch slip
1508: Roy on Arsenal, Masch and Joe
1508: Carragher won't blame Reina
1508: Reina gaffe ruins Roy's day

Carra motivated by critics

By Elliot Ball - Sky Sports

Defender Jamie Carragher admits he was spurred on by media critics during Liverpool's opener with Arsenal.

Carragher was labelled as past his best by a TV pundit ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener after suffering a dip in form last season.

But the Reds stalwart responded in spectacular fashion with a defensive masterclass in the second half of the Anfield encounter, a performance that was marred by Jose Reina's howler to gift a draw to the Gunners late on.

And the 32-year-old admits he was fired up for the curtain-raiser following newspaper comments about his ability.

"I read Gary Lineker on Sunday morning saying my legs had gone, so I wasn't in the best of moods before the game and I was more determined to play better than I normally am," Carragher, whose fundraising testimonial takes place at Anfield on 4th September, told the club's official website.

"You have good days, bad days, but we did okay. Later on I'll probably make a couple of mistakes and people will say I'm finished again.

"I made too many mistakes at the start of last season but I think I got my game together from the Manchester United game at home, from November onwards, so I like to think I had a good second half of the season."

Carragher meanwhile, believes Joe Cole has already gained cult status on Merseyside despite picking up his first career red card against Arsenal on his league debut.

"Joe has lifted the whole city," added Liverpool's vice-captain. "It's not just in the dressing room, it's the whole place.

"He's staying in the centre of town, getting well-wishers all the time, and he's starting to realise how big this club is.

"He's like a God in the city already, so he's already got the fans on his side.

"Joe is the type of player others love playing with. We saw that in Europe with Stevie and with Torres that'll come.

"Fernando is used to having Stevie putting him in and now he's got Stevie and Joe. Joe adds things we never had last season.

"He was talking before about how big a game this was for him and, if you think of the matches he's played for England in World Cups and Chelsea, he was really up for it.

"I'm just disappointed for him that it ended like that. You see that tackle so many times, trying to block a ball down the line, and if you don't get the ball, you can't stop yourself in mid-air. To me, that type of tackle should be a yellow."

Great to see spirit
return to Liverpool FC

Comment by John Aldridge - Liverpool Echo

The spirit’s back. After the disappointment of conceding a late equaliser against Arsenal on Sunday, the main thing that struck me was the mood inside Anfield – from the pitch to the stands.

It got lower than low towards the end of last season. The manager and players looked tired. It needed a shake-up and now we’re seeing positive early signs.

On Sunday you could see the players communicating and talking tactics on the pitch.

That rarely happened under Rafa Benitez. They were like soldiers out there, following strict instructions. It was often too regimented.

Against Arsenal, it was different. There was more freedom. Steven Gerrard was always talking, barking orders. It was good to see.

It was a very spirited performance, particularly in the second half with 10 men; and hanging on for five or six minutes with nine men when Daniel Agger was struggling.

Liverpool were tremendous defensively and kept their shape well.

It doesn’t matter where you put Gerrard, he’ll just get on with it. We know how effective he’s been up front with Fernando Torres.

But now the manager has changed it round and put Steven in a position where a lot of people want to see him – in central midfield.

He can still get forward from there and score goals, as he did for England last week. We need goals from throughout the team, though. Torres will always score but then you’re looking for at least 10 a season from whoever plays behind him.

I’m sure Gerrard will get double figures from midfield. But instead of just Gerrard and Torres getting us goals there has to be more emphasis throughout the team to get us where we need to be in the table.

This is where Joe Cole could be key. He’s clearly got frustrated before the red card on Sunday.

He was fired up. Cole hasn’t got on the ball as much as he would have liked. I’ve done many of them as a striker.

Of course, there are red cards and yellow cards. Looking at the Cole incident, it was an orange card!

You can see why he was sent off but everyone knows he’s not a dirty player. He’s not malicious so maybe the referee should have taken that into consideration.

A little bit of common sense – which most referee’s don’t have – should have prevailed.

As I say, I can see why the referee has dismissed him according to the letter of the law but a yellow card would have sufficed.

Because Liverpool have opted not to appeal, Cole will now be out for three Premier League games. That makes it even more important to give him the full 90 minutes against Trabzonspor on Thursday night.

Liverpool and Cole will benefit from the player putting a good shift in without having to worry about the next game against Manchester City.

The same goes for Torres on Thursday. He looks rusty at the moment and would benefit from a good hour or so against the Turkish side.

Good times will arrive at Liverpool FC
- and hopefully a new striker too

Comment by Mark Lawrenson - Liverpool Daily Post

David Ngog has clearly had something of a new lease of life under Roy Hodgson. He’s scored four goals in three games and his finish against Arsenal is clearly one of a striker in confident mood.

But nothing he has done so far has changed my opinion that Roy Hodgson needs to make a new striker his priority before the transfer window shuts.

Although Ngog hit a great shot to open the scoring on Sunday, in the first half he was way off the pace.

In the system Hodgson seems to favour, it’s asking too much of him to lead the line on his own. He’s still got a lot to learn in terms of movement and positional play.

So the problem that bothered me for much of last season – that when Fernando Torres is injured Liverpool don’t have adequate cover to compensate for his absence – still remains.

There aren’t many like Torres around. But if Hodgson fails to at least get someone of similar mobility and style then the concern over where goals are going to come from should Torres be absent could well hamper progress this season.

I don’t think the manager really wants the current striking options to see him through the end of August to January 1.

But I don’t want to start the season on a negative – and I think the spring Ngog has in his step is actually refreshingly typical of how Liverpool have entered this new season.

I wasn’t at Anfield on Sunday but I could almost sense the huge collective of relief that, after all the troubles that have plagued the club last season and through the summer, things might actually turn out okay.

Torres and Steven Gerrard staying on, coupled with the arrival of Joe Cole and Hodgson, seems to have given everyone the fresh start that was clearly needed.

And that is only enhanced by the new ownership issue currently going on – as long as the club has learnt form past mistakes.

Although Liverpool didn’t play particularly well, they still came within seconds of beating one of the top sides they will be looking to challenge in their bid to get back in the Champions League this season. And they played for most of the game with 10 men.

I was pleased to see one holding midfielder allowing Gerrard and Cole the freedom to attack.

If Liverpool, when Cole is back from suspension, set up like they want to win games then there will be a lot to look forward.

Of course, the fact that when Hodgson was at Fulham, they didn’t score or win many away from home so it will be interesting to see how he approaches it.

But a draw with Arsenal is already a decent indicator that things could be heading in the right direction.

A similarly uplifting outcome against Manchester City next Monday will be perhaps an ever greater one.

Gerrard: Reds still buzzing

By Andy Hampson - Press Association Sport

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists renewed confidence at Anfield will not be damaged by Arsenal's fortuitous last-gasp equaliser in their Barclays Premier League opener.

The Reds were on course to open their domestic campaign with a win when Jose Reina allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and into the net in injury time of a pulsating clash on Sunday.

It was a deflating blow, but after a positive summer following the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager, Gerrard says it will take a lot more to damage revitalised spirits.

"My family are Liverpool fans, we are surrounded by them day in and day out," said Gerrard, who also helped lift the club after last season's disappointing seventh-placed finish by pledging his future.

"Of course I can feel the optimism, and rightly so. We have got a good manager, we have kept hold of some top players and we have already got some top players here.

"If we can keep everyone fit I am very confident we can have a completely different season to last year. The boys are enjoying training and working very hard.

"There is a real buzz about the place and if we had got three points it would have been a magnificent start."

Liverpool's performance against Arsenal was all the more commendable after the dismissal of Joe Cole on the stroke of half-time.

The England midfielder had a home league debut to forget as he received a straight red card for a reckless lunge at Arsenal new boy Laurent Koscielny.

Liverpool responded well to go ahead through David Ngog's fourth goal of the campaign after three in Europa League qualifying, but Arsenal finished strongly and claimed a late reward.

Gerrard, 30, who scored twice for England in the friendly win over Hungary last week, said: "We were very unlucky not to see it out and take maximum points.

"I'm very proud of all the lads, I thought they put a tremendous shift in. When you are playing Arsenal in the opening game it is tough enough 11 v 11.

"To lose a man with a half to go and still get something out of the game, I'm really pleased. I thought they were disciplined and looked very fit.

"It was a shame we lost Joe. I think he was unfortunate, maybe a yellow would have been more sensible."

Gerrard also had consoling words for Reina, who denied Tomas Rosicky with a fine fingertip save just moments before his blunder.

"He is one of the best keepers in the world but he will certainly make that up over the course of the season," said Gerrard.

"He is worth a lot of points to the lads, there is no doubt about that. Further down the line we will be 1-0 up or 1-0 down and he will make that class save, that's what he does."

Reds won't contest
three-match Cole ban


Joe Cole's red card on his home debut for Liverpool will stand after the club did not appeal before Monday afternoon's deadline.

The Football Association confirmed the Reds had not contested Cole's controversial dismissal against Arsenal by 1pm on Monday, meaning the 28-year-old will serve a three-match ban.

Cole was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Laurent Koscielny in first-half injury-time of the 1-1 Premier League draw at Anfield.

New Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson felt the verdict was harsh and the club were considering whether to appeal.

He said after the game: "We now have the benefit of replays on the TV and those replays suggest to me he was a little bit unlucky."

But the club have decided not to appeal and will therefore be without Cole for their Premier League matches against Manchester City, West Brom and Birmingham.

But the England midfielder will be available for Thursday's Europa League play-off round first leg with Trabzonspor and the second leg the following week.

Ngog: I want to stay at Anfield
and score more goals for Liverpool

By Zack Wilson -

Liverpool striker David Ngog has insisted that he sees his future at Anfield after netting in the Reds' opening Premier League fixture against Arsenal.

Ngog opened the scoring in the second half against the Gunners, and his strike looked to have won the game for Roy Hodgson's men until a late blunder from goalkeeper Pepe Reina allowed the Londoners to equalise.

But Ngog is determined to score more goals and prove himself worthy of a place at Anfield, after being linked with temporary moves away from the club during the summer.

"I am happy at Liverpool. I am focused on the club and I'm trying to do my best for Liverpool," Ngog told his club's official website.

"I am a striker and I want to score a lot of goals for Liverpool. I work hard for this and so it's good when it comes off.

"When Javier passed the ball to me in the box I couldn't see so many solutions so I took a shot and that's that."

Liverpool played the second half of the game with ten men after Joe Cole was sent off just before the interval.

Although Ngog's goal came in the second half, the Frenchman was still pleased that the Reds had managed to hold on for a point in the end.

"Yes, it's a good point because when we went down to 10 men we realised it was going to be difficult to get a point," he said.

"I don't know if he deserved the red card. He just wanted to do well. But after that we fought together and did well."

Ngog is also pleased to be working with new boss Hodgson.

"So far it's been really good," he explained.

"He talks really closely with the players. He has a lot of experience and this will help us to be at a top level.

"He has managed for a long time and he's good for the club."

Despite the opportunity the Spaniard's being named on the bench handed him, Ngog is keen to see the return of Fernando Torres to the Reds staring line-up.

He added: "He really helps us. He's a key player and it's good for our future. It was a boost. When big players like him and Stevie say they are staying it's a good thing for Liverpool. We are a big club and we need big players."

Wenger: LFC will challenge

By Jimmy Rice - LFC Official Website

Arsene Wenger has backed Liverpool to be among those fighting for the title this season.

The Arsenal boss watched from the touchline as his charges laboured to earn a point against a Reds side who played with 10 men for the entire second half following Joe Cole's dismissal.

And he left Anfield in no doubt that Liverpool mean business under Roy Hodgson.

Wenger said: "I believe Liverpool will be a contender for the top places. They defended very well and are an intelligent team. It could be interesting.

"We had a lot of possession but Liverpool defended very well and we didn't create many chances. But we kept going and we showed we weren't going to give up. 1-1 is always a good result at Liverpool.

"I felt we deserved a draw. We controlled the first half and our 'keeper didn't have a lot to do. In fairness they defended well.

"In the second half we could have done better. They had a strong start, and 1-0 down to 10 men sitting deep made it difficult.

"We kept going and threw more people forward and I think we deserved our equaliser. We couldn't lose that game without feeling very hurt about it. Overall we have shown the right attitude."

Why Roy Hodgson can’t let
his Liverpool FC Masch slip

Comment by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

This time last summer, Rafa Benitez brusquely told Barcelona that money couldn’t buy Javier Mascherano. Not even for £50million. Yesterday the tone was just as terse, but the content of the message from the new Liverpool manager was subtly different.

“The fact is we want to keep him here and we will keep him here unless an offer comes along which is correct, ie. commensurate with his value and one that we think would be wrong for us to turn down,” rapped Roy Hodgson. “We have said to him if that offer comes in we will accept it, but at the moment it’s not there. It’s not even on the horizon.

“You seem to have information that it’s on the horizon but if all these clubs you keep mentioning are so interested it would be nice if they contacted Liverpool.

“I don’t know why they keep talking to you.”

It was transparent why Hodgson was so prickly on the subject.

Javier Mascherano is a world class defensive midfielder. And yesterday was his type of game.

Backs to the wall, down to 10 men, the pugnacious little Argentinian pushed out his chest and bristled with spiky intent.

But like the best holding midfielders, Mascherano isn’t just a destructive presence.

It was his precisely measured pass which set David Ngog free for Liverpool’s goal, giving the Reds the lead and giving Mascherano the platform to do what he really does best.

Chase, harry, press and prevent even the most talented of opposition from creating chances.

That was clearly underlined 10 minutes later. Mascherano dispossessed Jack Wilshere as easily as a school bully depriving a child of his dinner money, then raced half the length of the field with the ball at his feet. Never seemingly totally confident of what he was going to do next he lost possession again near the corner flag.

But then his ball-winning instinct kicked in, he pressed the ball again and won a throw-in for his team.

The manager who hopes to keep him was suitably impressed.

“I’ve had two weeks working with him in training and he’s an outstanding player,” purred Hodgson.

“He’s a top quality player – one of the best at his job in the world and he showed that once again today.”

He wasn’t alone.

Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, as always, were in ‘they shall not pass’ mindset, while in Milan Jovanovic the Reds appear to have unearthed a cult hero in the making.

As if scoring a goal which helped put Everton out of Europe two years ago wasn’t enough, his energy, enthusiasm and pace elicited a few early murmurs of appreciation.

Then a storming run made everyone in the ground sit up and take notice.

It wasn’t mesmerising, slalom skier stuff. More a playful kitten with a ping pong ball, never quite under control, but never so far from him he couldn’t do something with it.

There was a touch of that other Milan, the out of control bumper car that was Baros, about it, but with more willingness.

He earned his rousing ovation and looked suitably appreciative when he came off after 65 eventful minutes.

So, too, did Mascherano, who followed him with 13 minutes remaining.

He waved to the crowd as he trotted off, but it wasn’t a farewell, James Milner kind of flourish – as his manager alluded afterwards.

“It’s a very different situation to Milner,” . There’s an offer for Milner which the club are debating. We’ve had no offer for Javier Mascherano.

“Let’s be frank. He’s playing at Liverpool which is a good club. How many clubs can he move to that will be either better or on the same level?

“There’s two weeks to go and you never know. Some of these clubs for some reason best known to themselves like to come in with these offers on August 28 or 29.

“The fact is we want to keep him here and we will keep him here unless an offer comes along.”

If Mascherano has been made aware that an offer is imminent – and the manager who valued him so highly last summer is the likeliest candidate – the Argentinian’s attitude yesterday spoke volumes for his character.

Arsenal have taken advantage of these situations before, not so very far away either.

This time last year, The Gunners came to Merseyside and took ruthless advantage of Joleon Lescott’s apparent desire to quit Everton.

That was never likely to be the case yesterday – and but for the footballing equivalent of Halley’s Comet, a Pepe Reina mistake, Hodgson would have been celebrating a fabulous first day victory.

The spirit coursing through the side was evident.

In the past Daniel Agger’s inability to shrug off injuries quickly hinted at a low pain threshold. Not yesterday.

Clearly concussed as Liverpool boldly held onto their lead, he appeared to be unaware whether he was in L4 or El Salvador. He came off leaving his team down to nine men.

But his brave team-mates only had to hold out for a little over three minutes before he convinced the physio team his head had cleared sufficiently to run up and down the running track in straight lines. He was only allowed back on as a nuisance value left midfielder, but it still underlined how badly the Reds wanted victory.

That they didn’t get one was down to misfortune as much as anything else.

And the reassuring return of Fernando Torres for the final 15 minutes suggests it won’t be long before Roy Hodgson is celebrating one.

On six previous occasions Liverpool have kicked off a campaign against Arsenal. In five of them they’ve finished the season with silverware. After yesterday there’s no reason to scoff that can’t be the case again.

But those hopes will clearly be enhanced if Javier Mascherano is still a Liverpool player in a fortnight’s time.

Roy on Arsenal, Masch and Joe

By James Carroll at Anfield - LFC Official Website

Roy Hodgson was full of praise for the battling performance of his Liverpool players - but admitted to being left frustrated by the manner of the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Anfield.

With the scoreline still goalless, Joe Cole was sent off on his league debut for the Reds on the stroke of half-time after a challenge on visiting centre-back Laurent Koscielny, who himself was later dismissed for a second bookable offence.

Nonetheless, David Ngog fired the hosts into an early second-half lead - but Pepe Reina's 90th minute own goal rescued a point for the Gunners.

Hodgson told a post-match press conference: "It was a fantastic effort but points are hard to come by in the Premier League and when you get so close, you can't avoid the feeling of disappointment.

"Maybe that second-half performance deserved all three points and not just one, albeit if at half-time someone had said we'd get a 0-0 or 1-1 draw I probably would have accepted that.

"But to concede so close to the end to a rather scrappy goal was tough on us. The boys did everything they could do and it was an excellent game of football. I hope the fans enjoyed the spectacle.

"It was a wonderful goal (by Ngog). It was a good piece of pressurising between Glen Johnson and Dirk Kuyt to set him up and David took the chance superbly. We had a couple of other chances in second half as well. Both goalkeepers were called into action and there were goal-mouth incidents at both ends.

"We were playing with nine men for a short period of time towards the end after Danny (Agger) had to go off with concussion and unfortunately the game lasted just four or five minutes too long for us."

He added: "I am learning about the team all the time and I am seeing players play seriously for the first time.

"It will be a learning process for me, but the one thing I learned today is that the spirit is undimmed, the fans can expect the players to chase and fight and if we can add a bit of tactical organisation and allay that to the obvious skill in the team then who knows, we might be lucky enough to have a decent season."

Reina's uncharacteristic error was harsh on Liverpool, who had battled valiantly following Cole's sending off.

The Spaniard had earlier thwarted Arsenal with a string of top-class saves, and Hodgson had words of comfort for the custodian.

"He took it hard because he is a very serious professional who really believes in himself and the team," said the boss.

"He will be the first one not to try and apportion blame to other people, so of course he's taken it hard.

"But I thought he played well today considering he didn't have an awful lot to do - and what he did have to do came very spasmodically. His concentration was good, his kicking was excellent.

"He's had a shoulder injury and came back quicker than we thought he would, so there are an enormous number of positives. The one negative, unfortunately, was he let in a goal which in normal circumstances he would have kept out."

Hodgson admitted he was unsure whether Liverpool will lodge an appeal against Cole's dismissal, but felt the Reds' league debutant could consider himself unfortunate to have had his afternoon soured by the decision.

He said: "He is devastated. It was his debut at Liverpool and a fantastic atmosphere. He was desperate to do well, not playing at the top of his game but trying even harder to get to that level, and then suddenly he gets sent off.

"He was absolutely devastated and saddened by it all, not least because he'd put us in a difficult position. 0-0 with 10 men gives the advantage to the opposition.

"I've seen it on the video. At the time, from our position on the bench, I don't think either myself or Arsene (Wenger) had a strong opinion on the incident.

"We now have the benefit of TV replays, and those replays suggest to me he was a little bit unlucky because I don't think he actually dived to tackle the player. He actually dived in front of the ball to try and stop it being played down the line, and the player got his legs caught up with him and twisted his knee. But I was pleased to see there was no serious damage to him because he was able to play the second half.

"Joe Cole has got an unblemished record - he'd been previously never been sent off and had very few yellow cards. Everyone who has watched him play will agree he does not go in for 'blood curdling tackles', as I heard it described by a radio reporter. The fact the player wasn't seriously injured means we might just be fortunate enough that an appeal might go in our favour.

"It will be a big loss if he is suspended. We will look at the video again and try in someway to find out from referees and experts whether we do have a case for an appeal.

"I don't want a frivolous appeal, that's for sure, but it's a bit early in the day to ask me the question if we will appeal."

Reporters were also keen to quiz Hodgson on the thinking behind his decision to hand Javier Mascherano a starting berth against the Gunners, despite the Argentina captain last month expressing a desire to leave Anfield.

However, the manager confirmed the Reds are still yet to receive any bids for the midfielder and insisted he will, therefore, continue to utilise him in the team.

The manager replied: "His performance didn't surprise me. He is an outstanding player and he and Gerrard were absolutely excellent in the centre of the field. He is a top quality player - one of the best at his job in the world and he showed that once again today.

"It's only speculation from the mass media, if I am brutally honest. We've had no offer for Javier Mascherano. He is playing at Liverpool and how many clubs could he move to better or on the same level? As yet, we have not received any offers from anyone.

"There are two weeks to go (in the transfer window) and you never know. Some of these clubs, for reasons best known to themselves, like to come in with offers on August 28 or 29.

"The fact is, we want to keep him here and will keep him here unless an offer comes along which is correct. By that I mean, is in keeping with his value and one we think would be wrong for us to turn down because we have said if that offer comes in we will accept it.

"But at the moment it's not there - it's not even on the horizon."

Asked whether he would consider playing Mascherano in Thursday's Europa League tie with Trabzonspor at Anfield, Hodgson said: "Of course I would play him on Thursday.

"He picked up an injury today, unfortunately. I hope it's not too serious but he's got a slight tightness in his muscle, which is why he had to come off. We hope it's not a pull but it will have to be assessed tomorrow. But why wouldn't I play him?

"He is a Liverpool player and I hope he will continue to be a Liverpool player. For me, he will always be available for selection until the day comes when he's no longer here."

Meanwhile, Hodgson reflected on his first Barclays Premier League game in charge of Liverpool and admitted he couldn't have asked for much more.

And the gaffer is confident the manner of his team's performance bodes well for the challenges that lay in wait in 2010-11.

He said: "It was a great debut. You can't ask for much better than a top team like Arsenal coming here and a full house with everyone singing. The atmosphere was fantastic.

"It was everything I expected. I thought the fans would be right behind the team and I think we gave them every reason to get behind us.

"That is very positive for the future because there are 37 tough matches to play. We all know it's going to be tough this year and every expert is saying it's going to be tougher than ever for a team to win the league, and I think we all agree that is more than likely.

"So it was good to at least show we've got the spirit to do well this season and now we have to keep working to make ourselves a better team."

He continued: "I don't think there is a better ground for atmosphere (than Anfield). There are a lot of good grounds in this country where the atmosphere is very good, but Anfield is one of the footballing temples alongside places like the San Siro, Nou Camp and Bernabeu.

"They are legendary footballing temples for the simple reason the crowds make it such exciting, exhilarating places to play."

Carragher won't blame Reina

Sky Sports

Jamie Carragher offered his backing to Jose Reina after the goalkeeper's mistake cost Liverpool three points against Arsenal.

Liverpool, who played the second half with 10 men following Joe Cole's dismissal, were hanging on for a 1-0 win at Anfield before Reina's last-minute gaffe.

Reina failed to collect a cross from the left and, after the ball hit Marouane Chamakh and bounced back off the post, the Spaniard spilled it over the line.

However, Carragher refused to point the finger of blame at Reina and insists his team-mate is still the best keeper in the game.

"I'd have to have a look at it again, but a lot of time you get a foul for that," Carragher told Sky Sports 1. "I know they say they're protected.

"I'd have to see it again, but he's the best goalkeeper in the world and you saw that last year."

Having taking the lead through David Ngog less than two minutes into the second half, Carragher admits he was disappointed by the manner of Arsenal's equaliser.

"It's the same for any team when you concede a late goal, even if it's 11 versus 11," he said.

"Arsenal played very well in the first half, but in the second half you know what you've got to do. Hopefully you're going to get a goal and we've done that.

"We've defended very well and it's unfortunate to give a goal away at the end. It doesn't matter if you've got 10 or 11, and we're very disappointed it's not even a goal where they've used their man advantage."

Reina gaffe ruins Roy's day

Sky Sports

Jose Reina's comical gaffe gifted Arsenal a 1-1 draw at Liverpool after the hosts had battled manfully to recover from Joe Cole's first-half sending-off.

Liverpool's new signing Cole was shown the red card just before half-time for a lunge on Laurent Koscielny, but David Ngog's thumping drive appeared set to give Roy Hodgson three points in his first Premier League game in charge.

However, in the final minute, Reds keeper Reina first made a mess of a cross into the box and then fumbled the ball over his own line after it had bounced back off the post.

Chances were scarce during a stilted first half, with Reina beating away Thomas Vermaelen's free-kick and Milan Jovanovic wastefully lashing a volley off target.

The game erupted in the minutes before and after half-time as Ngog saw his header cleared off the line by Gael Clichy after Glen Johnson's drive had been tipped over by Manuel Almunia.

And, in first-half stoppage-time, Cole was dismissed by referee Martin Atkinson for a rash challenge on Arsenal debutant Koscielny by the touchline.

Rather than let their heads drop at going down to 10 men, Liverpool burst out of the blocks after the interval and grabbed the lead on 47 minutes when Ngog blasted a shot into the top corner after being slipped in by Javier Mascherano.

Arsenal struggled to make the most of their numerical advantage and it appeared their pursuit of an equaliser would end in failure after Tomas Rosicky's curler was tipped over by Reina.

But, in the final minute, Reina failed to deal with a cross into the penalty area and, after the ball clattered off Marouane Chamakh and the post, the Liverpool keeper spilled it over his own line.

Steven Gerrard tested Almunia with a late free-kick before Koscielny emulated Cole by being sent off on his Premier League bow for his new club after picking up a harsh second yellow card for handball.

Upbeat mood
The equaliser denied Liverpool what would have been only their fourth victory over the Gunners in their last 19 league meetings.

It remains to be seen how much the new wave of optimism which has swept into the club since Hodgson was appointed as manager has been punctured.

One of the reasons for the upbeat mood had been Cole's arrival but while the midfielder's first league start was one to forget, Hodgson did coax a solid showing from wantaway Javier Mascherano.

Fernando Torres was left in reserve, and later entered to a huge ovation after pledging his future to the club and recovering from a groin injury, but Arsenal missed two of their bigger stars more.

Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie were both said to be lacking match-fitness and, while the former was absent altogether, the Dutchman made only a late appearance.

Vermaelen tested Reina early on with a fierce free-kick but aside from that, the first half was almost devoid of action until exploding into life in the closing moments.

Gael Clichy had Arsenal's first serious chance from open play when he broke clear down the left after 30 minutes and fired a shot narrowly over from outside the box.

Liverpool thought an opportunity was opening up soon after when Almunia failed to claim a corner but referee Martin Atkinson spotted a foul by Daniel Agger on Vermaelen.

The action on the field was tight with neither side giving much away but Arsenal were almost caught when Jovanovic raced onto a long ball.

With Cole walking back from an offside position, the Arsenal defence let the ball bounce and the Serbia international darted into the box, only to blast wide.

Game comes alive
The game suddenly came alive in the closing minute of the first half.

First Johnson had a shot tipped over by Almunia and Ngog then had a header cleared off the line from the resulting corner.

The complexion of the game then changed completely in injury-time as Cole was sent off for his lunge at Koscielny.

Koscielny returned to the dressing room on a stretcher at the interval but ran out to start the second period as normal.

Liverpool seemed determined not to let their numerical disadvantage bother them and made a blistering start to the second half.

They claimed the lead within two minutes of the restart as Mascherano threaded a ball into the box for Ngog and the Frenchman finished unerringly home at the near post.

Not content with that, the Reds pushed forward again and Martin Skrtel headed wide from a dangerous Gerrard free-kick.

Ngog had an even better chance when he leapt to reach another Gerrard set-piece but could not direct his header on target.

Kuyt created another fine chance after good work on the right but no-one could turn in his ball across goal.

Liverpool were reduced to nine men when Agger left the field for treatment after all three substitutes had been used before the Dane was pressed back into action.

Arsenal stepped up the tempo and Rosicky showed great control with a slaloming run into the area before seeing his shot touched over by Reina.

Maxi Rodriguez then cleared after a desperate goalmouth scramble.

The pressure eventually told in the last minute as Reina failed to grasp the ball after Chamakh hit the post from Rosicky's cross.

Gerrard almost snatched victory as the game went into five minutes of injury-time but Almunia kept out his free-kick.

The game ended on more controversy as Koscielny was dismissed.

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Thor Zakariassen ©