Arsenal leave Brendan Rodgers with plenty to ponder at Liverpool

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2

The world of Liverpool changes yet some things stay the same. When Bill Shankly, who would have been 99 yesterday, arrived at the club bursting with energy and a new philosophy in 1959, he wanted the money to buy Denis Law and Jack Charlton, to put his ideas into practice. The club refused him, much like Brendan Rodgers has been denied the money to equip his squad with Clint Dempsey, the player he was banking on when he let Andy Carroll go to West Ham.

Yet Shankly's hard decade in management had already taught him that you need boardroom allies with influence – like Eric Sawyer, the Liverpool finance director he talked into buying Ian St John and Ron Yeats, who arrived at L4 instead of Law and Charlton and began creating history. Rodgers has been in the game for four years, not long enough to learn that you need cast-iron guarantees from the top before you start letting £35m strikers go.

Rodgers came in for some harsh criticism from the television studios for releasing Carroll after his side's worst three-game start to a league season since 1962, though it was self-evident from the way he discussed Friday's transfer deadline day that he feels he has been sold up the river.

"No," Rodgers said – immediately and very firmly – when asked would he have released Carroll if he had known Dempsey would not be his. "Very," he said, when asked was he confident that the American – a player denied to him late on Friday when the club decided that £7m was too much to pay for a 29-year-old – would be signed. The Northern Irishman declared of Friday's endgame that "there are one or two operational things we need to organise". His relationship with the managing director, Ian Ayre, is fine and this decision has been taken elsewhere in the hierarchy, where no one can say Rodgers has been less than transparent. "I would need to be a nutcase to even consider at this moment letting Andy Carroll go out, unless there are other solutions for that," he said, 11 days ago.

It would help if the one first team front man Rodgers has acquired, Fabio Borini, looked like he was ready to put a smile on the manager's face. The Italian's snatched and premature 20-yard shot – several yards wide – when running at a retreating Arsenal defence four minutes into yesterday's game told of a man looking hard for a shot of confidence. The slumped shoulders and minimal eye contact with Rodgers when he left the field after a mere 54 minutes confirmed how little he has found.

Luis Suarez has not been looking like a goal machine either, for all his energy and influence, and does not always possess an awareness of others who might be better placed to score, as he bursts around. Though some patience and a serious sense of perspective is required about the task of rebuilding Liverpool – which certainly won't happen in a month – Arsène Wenger was the manager who arrived with most questions asked about his summer's transfer work and left with most of them answered.

Santi Cazorla demonstrated once again the benefits of investing £16m in a player with minimal resale value, and Lukas Podolski, another 27-year-old, also shone in the process of opening Arsenal's goal account for the season. It made the afternoon considerably worse for Rodgers that his own debutant Nuri Sahin, secured on loan from Real Madrid from under Wenger's nose, was so overrun by those players who decided the Emirates was their best option.

As Europe's brightest talent at Borussia Dortmund the season before last, Sahin operated as an advanced midfielder but he was ineffective in today's holding role and powerless against the rapid counter-attacking play which yielded Arsenal their first goal of the season. After a loose ball from Steven Gerrard for Suarez – not his only one – was collected by Per Mertesacker and processed to Podolski, the German rapidly fed Cazorla, sprinted 60 yards down the left flank and took the ball back from the Spaniard to ease a left-foot shot into the left-hand corner of Pepe Reina's net.

The greater concern for Rodgers was the way his midfield was cut away again three minutes later, allowing Olivier Giroud the excellent chance he screwed wide from 10 yards when he should have doubled the lead. Abou Diaby, the supplier, was sublime throughout.

Problems have been appearing where Rodgers has least expected them and Reina's fumbling of a near-post shot from Cazorla, which deflected off his elbow into the same net where his error allowed Hearts a goal on Thursday was a worrying one, especially with the absence of any meaningful competition for his jersey.

Cazorla did all the build-up work, with Podolksi operating as the axis of the one-two between them on this occasion. Only Stewart Downing, one of the few remnants of the Kenny Dalglish era that Rodgers has not cleared out, managed to raise the energy, and Jonjo Shelvey found the target twice in the last five minutes. Rodgers also had further strong displays from Joe Allen and 17-year-old Raheem Sterling – his kind of player – to take away.

After signing St John and Yeats, Shankly challenged the Liverpool board to "sack me if they can't play". Rodgers, with only 19 players training last week, won't be risking that kind of talk.

Match facts

Booked: Liv Skrtel, Shelvey. Ars Mertesacker, Arteta.

Man of match Diaby.

Match rating 8.

Poss: Liv 53%. Ars 47%.

Attempts on target: Liv 4. Ars 5.

Referee H Webb (South Yorks).

Att 44,932.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering