Roy Hodgson would gain employment as a psychologist ... The new Liverpool manager has made a greater impression on the morale of his club than on the shape or make-up of his team. Last season an early dismissal of a key player would have been the signal for moody introspection and finger-pointing, but today they responded superbly to adversity. Not even the timing and manner of Arsenal's scrappy equaliser should disguise that fact. Liverpool played better with 10 and occasionally nine men on the pitch than they had done before Cole's red card. Starting with Javier Mascherano was a calculated risk after his summer of public appeals for a transfer but, unlike last season, there was no sulking from the midfielder, just a fiercely professional display. Steven Gerrard also looked re-energised from the despondent figure of last season and David Ngog suddenly thought he was Fernando Torres facing Edwin van der Sar when he released a superb finish.
Joe Cole can have no complaint ... Out of character, not that kind of player etc, etc. Yes, we know - but that doesn't lessen the recklessness and potential danger of Cole's tackle on Laurent Koscielny that brought a deserved red card on the stroke of half-time. Liverpool's main summer signing allowed the frustration of a quiet home debut to over-ride his senses when launching himself at the French defender in a harmless corner of the pitch, and Koscielny was not even on the pitch when the impact came. Referee Martin Atkinson called this, and Jack Wilshere's earlier yellow card for a foul on Mascherano, correctly. While Wilshere avoided following through with his right leg, Cole did not, and it was far from Anfield's finest moment that a player being carried away with a potentially serious injury was booed off, and booed back on for the crime of keeping his leg and ligaments intact.
Anfield's "villain" could prove crucial to Arsenal ... Koscielny enjoyed an encouraging league debut until his stoppage-time dismissal for a second yellow card. It will simply be a relief to Arsène Wenger that his £9.7m signing from Lorient will be fit for the months ahead. His awareness and alertness were immediately evident at Anfield. While his Arsenal team-mates slept at a quick Mascherano free-kick, their new central defender read the Argentine's intentions perfectly to prevent David Ngog breaking clear. Likewise when Joe Cole attempted to execute a first time volley on the edge of the Arsenal area. Wenger certainly needs another defender to cover for the rigours of a season and Koscielny's only worry was an apparent lack of strength when turned by David Ngog.
Koscielny is not the only Arsenal player in need of the gym ... While it is far too early for judgments, the Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh was another new face who appeared surprised by the physical demands of the Premier League. Against Jamie Carragher, Chamakh enjoyed the advantage of height, size and pace, while he also looked equipped to give the imposing Martin Skrtel a difficult afternoon. Yet he was reluctant to take responsibility in the penalty area until throwing himself at Rosicky's cross at the death. Perhaps the surprising results will serve as an education.
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