Arsenal claimed their first goals and a maiden victory of the Premier League season with a 2-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield.
While Liverpool were the better team in many respects, the cutting edge was all with Arsenal as, in each half, new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla finished off to incisive forays down field.
Liverpool started the game the brighter and restricted Arsenal's traditional passing game by pressing high-up the pitch at every opportunity. At the same time Liverpool were displaying some slick possession-football of their own, with Joe Allen the metronome in the middle of the field.
Yet as has been an all-too familiar sight for Liverpool fans of late, the home side lacked a real threat in the final third. Luis Suarez was short of his tricky best and Fabio Borini struggling to make an impact.
The closest Liverpool came to fining a breakthrough in the first 45 minutes was through young winger Raheem Sterling. The 17-year-old struck the outside of the post with a left-footed effort following a fine turn off of Gerrard's knock down.
Continue Reading Below
By that time, though, Liverpool had already fallen behind to a quality sucker punch. Liverpool's captain, Gerrard, gave the ball away on the edge of Arsenal's penalty area and Podolski quickly found Santi Cazorla, before continuing his dart up the field to run onto the Spaniard's perfectly weighted through ball and take a touch before dispatching a shot low across Pepe Reina on his favored left side. It was a trademark goal for Podolski as he scored for the first time in the Premier League.
A similar fast-paced counter could and should have put Arsenal two goals to the good in the final five minutes of the opening period. Abou Diaby led the break with a prime example of the kind of powerful dynamism Arsenal have been missing with the Frenchman's long catalog of injuries. After reaching the edge of the area Diaby slipped a fine reverse ball to Olivier Giroud, who got his angles all wrong and shot well wide of the target.
Minutes after the restart, Liverpool had their second penalty appeal of the match turned down by referee Howard Webb. While Per Mertesacker was correctly adjudged to have got his foot on the ball in a challenge with Sterling in the first-half, the German defender was fortunate to get away with what looked like to be a clear tug to prevent Suarez getting onto the end of the cross, in the second.
Arsenal's propensity for late runs into the box was still causing Liverpool problems, however. Next it was the turn of left-back Kieran Gibbs who broke from deep, receiving a precise pass from Podolski before seeing his shot from a tight angle parried away by Reina.
A similar move did give Arsenal a two-goal cushion in the 68th minute.
Cazorla danced past Jonjo Shelvey across the edge of the area, before laying the ball off to Podolski, who returned the pass in an instant and Cazorla unleashed a low drive from a tight angle that Reina should have saved but could only divert into the net at his near post.
At 2-0 down, the frustration began to tell from the Liverpool supporters as their team searched in vain for a way back into the contest. Suarez missed the best of the chances as he dinked an effort over Arsenal keeper Vito Mannone, but also over the cross bar to sum up his disappointing day.
There are encouraging signs that things are moving in the right direction, but, on this evidence, the inability to bring in a striker in the final embers of the transfer window may become a recurring topic of conversation at Anfield for much of the season.