On the opening day of these clubs' Premier League season the game was played as if there were no tomorrow. Joe Cole was sent off on the verge of the interval but that was merely an initial complication in this exercise in the unpredictable and Liverpool still took the lead. Arsenal equalised when the Anfield goalkeeper José Reina notched an own goal in stoppage time and then saw their centre-half Laurent Koscielny collect two bookings, the second for handball.

That frenetic progression to a red card by a man making his competitive debut for Arsenal was in keeping with the general volatility. It is impossible to reach many reliable conclusions from an unstable event but past experience corroborates the feeling that Liverpool's opener, no matter how well struck, was further proof that Manuel Almunia, beaten at his near post, is a handicap to Arsenal. No wonder Arsène Wenger has been attempting to pry Mark Schwarzer away from Fulham.

It should be of broader concern to Arsenal that they looked at times as if this fixture had taken them by surprise. They were mostly ineffective and they dare not excuse that bluntness on the fact that Cesc Fábregas, who had been unwell, had no role here. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, there may be more encouragement for hosts who could not cling to their lead.

The new manager, Roy Hodgson, is, after all, seeking to revive a club that came seventh last season and there were long periods when Liverpool appeared as if they would withstand Arsenal's efforts with little fuss. He was, of course, disadvantaged by the dismissal of Cole.

On his Premier League debut for Liverpool, after the move from Chelsea as a free agent, the midfielder attempted a challenge on Koscielny just before the interval. It may not have been malicious but Cole did go in with both feet off and the red card from Martin Atkinson was not a great surprise.

Koscielny, the player hurt by the tackle, was borne away on a stretcher but had no difficulty in getting straight back to work in the second half. While that factor may have added to a sense of grievance in the Anfield stands, Cole's unnecessary offence was the real source of the trouble.

Koscielny, making his competitive debut, was bought from the French club Lorient for £9.7m and he is meant to be part of the solution to Arsenal's frailty in defence but he will not be a one-man answer. An outnumbered Liverpool scored a goal two minutes into the second half. Javier Mascherano pushed a pass into the right of the penalty area and David Ngog drove high past Almunia.

The goal follows some exploits in the Europa League and is the 21-year-old's fourth of the season. Despite being reduced in numbers, Liverpool were at least under the direction of a manager who knows how to organise in adversity. Hodgson has a taste for discipline in all matters. Without that trait, Fulham could never have reached the Europa League final to further enhance the track record that got him the job at Anfield.

In this fixture, he did without Fernando Torres until the 74th minute. The striker indubitably needs a spell of recuperation after so recently being part of Spain's World Cup triumph. Nonetheless, it would have been simple to declare an encounter with Arsenal to be some kind of emergency that warranted sending out a great centre-forward from the kick-off.

Hodgson would have none of it. He does have the air of a manager with the patience to rebuild Liverpool. It will be sad if the controversies about the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett continue while the completion of a takeover stays tantalisingly our of reach. The means at Hodgson's disposal have not been great but he is well-accustomed to that and even a free-agent signing such as the Serb Milan Jovanovic sparked excitement here with a run past two opponents in the first half.

Nonetheless, Arsenal have themselves to blame for lagging until almost the very end. Even with Fábregas missing, they should have caused Liverpool much more alarm yet there were only four minutes left when the substitute Tomas Rosicky delivered a shot that Reina had to tip over the bar.

The efforts by Arsenal here felt a little bland on occasion. There is cause to think that Wenger's side should make a vigorous bid for the Premier League title, which they last won in 2004, but this was not a convincing statement of intent. Wenger can be glad that Arsenal came through the day relatively unscathed. There is great scope for improvement in each side, but they do at least have time on their hands in this campaign.

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.