Liverpool can't get the better of Rafa Benitez and other things learned from draw with Newcastle United

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A fortuitous Joselu goal earned Newcastle United a point at home after Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring for Liverpool with a spectacular strike from range.

The 1-1 draw on Sunday sees the Reds drop to seventh in the Premier League table.

The away side did squander a few chances and will be disappointed with the result.

Here are three things we learned from the encounter.

BENITEZ STILL UNBEATEN AGAINST LIVERPOOL

The last time a Liverpool side could be deemed ‘solid’ at the back, Rafael Benitez was in charge. The Spaniard left the club in 2010 but always seems to have the inside track when he faces the Reds.

Even before his time in charge at Anfield, he had defeated Liverpool twice as Valencia boss, the performances that landed him the job in Merseyside in the first place.

Since leaving though, he’s faced his former employers three times, frustrating them on every occasion. A 2-2 draw during his brief stint in charge of Chelsea has been followed by 2-2 and now 1-1 draws while taking on Liverpool as Newcastle boss.

Rafael Benitez

Rafael Benitez

STURRIDGE TAKING TIME TO FIND HIS RANGE

Daniel Sturridge, much to the frustration of Liverpool fans, is one of those excellent strikers who are so injury prone, can only play in spurts before their next visit to the infirmary.

However, he could always be relied on to hit the back of the net even without many minutes under his belt. While the likes of Wayne Rooney always took a few games to get back into the groove after a spell on the sidelines, Sturridge has always been back among the goals even after being ruled out for long spells, similar to Sergio Aguero in that regard.

It hasn’t quite gone that way this time around though. Despite being a goal threat in flashes at Newcastle, there were a couple of chances that he would normally have tucked away. The Englishman has scored just once in seven games since his return to the first team.

Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge

KLOPP COMING UNDER PRESSURE

There’s no doubt that Jurgen Klopp has brought zip and guile to Liverpool’s attack but what they’ve gain in front of goal, they’ve lost trying to defend their own.

The Reds have kept just two clean sheets this season and their attacking displays only serve to paper over the cracks of their defensive shortcomings.

After 75 games in charge of Liverpool in the Premier League, Benitez had 137 points, Klopp has 136 at the same juncture. He may be passionate, one of football’s more colourful characters and promotes an attractive style of play, but has he really improved the team?

Jurgen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp

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Player ratings and round-up as Arsenal cruise to 2-0 win over Brighton

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Arsene Wenger celebrated his 21st anniversary as Arsenal manager with a 2-0 win over Brighton and a brilliant team goal scored by Alex Iwobi.

Goals like Iwobi’s have become synonymous with Arsenal since Wenger took the reins on October 1, 1996 and this was another gem, finished off after a delicate back-heel from Alexis Sanchez.

Nacho Monreal had earlier put the Gunners in front at Emirates Stadium as Wenger’s men made it seven matches unbeaten in all competitions and moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.

TWEET OF THE MATCH

STAR MAN

Alexis Sanchez. After an extremely quiet opening period, the Chile forward grew into the game and caused the Seagulls all sorts of second-half problems. He superbly set up the second for Iwobi, was denied a goal by a fine save from Albion goalkeeper Mat Ryan, and came close to a second assist when he later slipped in Alexandre Lacazette.

Sanchez was the driving force behind Arsenal's good play on Sunday.

Sanchez was the driving force behind Arsenal’s good play on Sunday.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Arsenal eventually took control of the contest when Nigeria international Iwobi doubled their advantage by finishing confidently following a flowing 56th-minute move. France forward Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey were both involved before Alexis Sanchez’s splendid back-heel allowed midfielder Iwobi to power home past Ryan.

STAT ATTACK

Arsenal’s opener was Monreal’s first Premier League goal in more than four-and-a-half years. The Spanish defender last found the back of net in the league in a 2-0 Gunners victory at Swansea on March 16, 2013.

PLAYER RATINGS

ARSENAL

Petr Cech: 6 (out of 10)
Hector Bellerin: 6
Rob Holding: 6
Shkodran Mustafi: 6
Nacho Monreal: 7
Sead Kolasinac: 6
Aaron Ramsey: 7
Granit Xhaka: 6
Alex Iwobi: 7
Alexis Sanchez: 8
Alexandre Lacazette: 7

Substitutes

Olivier Giroud (on for Lacazette, 71): 6
Theo Walcott (on for Iwobi, 71): 5
Mohamed Elneny (on for Xhaka, 83): 5

Nacho Monreal scored his first league goal in four-and-a-half years.

Nacho Monreal scored his first league goal in four-and-a-half years.

BRIGHTON

Mat Ryan: 7
Bruno: 6
Lewis Dunk: 6
Shane Duffy: 5
Gaetan Bong: 5
Solly March: 7
Dale Stephens: 6
Davy Propper: 6
Pascal Gross: 6
Jose Izquierdo: 5
Izzy Brown: 6

Substitutes

Ezequiel Schelotto (on for March, 72): 5
Anthony Knockaert (on for Izquierdo, 76): 6
Glenn Murray (on for Brown, 76): 6

Brighton struggled to stop Arsenal's free-flowing attack.

Brighton struggled to stop Arsenal’s free-flowing attack.

WHO’S UP NEXT?

Watford v Arsenal (Premier League, October 14)
Brighton v Everton (Premier League, October 15)

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Arsene Wenger savours 21st anniversary as Arsenal sink Brighton

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Arsene Wenger celebrated the 21st anniversary of his arrival at Arsenal in winning style as the Gunners cruised to a 2-0 victory over Brighton on Sunday.

There are many reasons for Arsenal fans to look back fondly on the day Wenger was hired but, after several years of underachievement, the Frenchman finds himself engaged in a fight to restore his tarnished reputation.

It is too early to predict whether Arsenal can end their 13-year wait to win a fourth Premier League title under Wenger, but there were some encouraging signs as Brighton were put to the sword at the Emirates Stadium.

Nacho Monreal opened the scoring in the first half before Alex Iwobi, converting Alexis Sanchez’s majestic assist, wrapped up the points after the interval.

Arsenal’s sixth win from their last seven matches in all competitions moved them to within six points of leaders Manchester City heading into the international break.

Fittingly, Wenger marked his milestone date with a notable record of his own.
Brighton are the 45th different Premier League club to be defeated by Arsenal since Wenger took over in 1996, breaking the record he shared with Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson.

Just 64 hours after winning at Belarus’s Bate Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday, Arsenal were back in action and Wenger freshened up his side by making nine changes.

Wenger this week claimed Arsenal are a more unified team since the transfer window closed just after their humiliating 4-0 defeat at Liverpool.

There was ample evidence to support that theory as his team tore into Brighton right from the start.

Alexandre Lacazette almost gave them the perfect start after just 65 seconds when his fierce drive flashed past Albion goalkeeper Mat Ryan, only to cannon back off a post.

Albion striker Tomer Hemed was serving the first of a three-game suspension, so Izzy Brown started up front and the youngster went close with a header from Pascal Gross’s free-kick.

That effort aside, it was one way traffic as Wenger’s men left Brighton trailing in their wake time and again.

Sanchez impressed but his wait for a first league goal of the season continues.

Sanchez impressed but his wait for a first league goal of the season continues.

IRREPRESSIBLE 

Sanchez and Iwobi tested Ryan from long-range before Monreal gave Arsenal the lead in the 16th minute.

Granit Xhaka’s free-kick to the far post was headed back by Lacazette and after Shkodran Mustafi had his shot cleared off the line, Monreal chested down and fired home from 10 yards.

It was Monreal’s first league goal for Arsenal since March 2013 and the Spanish defender celebrated with a fist-pumping roar of delight.

Solly March nearly silenced Arsenal’s cheers moments later when he unleashed a powerful 20-yard shot that crashed back off a post.

The Gunners should have doubled their lead before half-time when Brighton defender Lewis Dunk slipped, putting Lacazette through on goal.

But Lacazette let Brighton off the hook with a tame shot straight at Ryan, while Aaron Ramsey saw his low strike repelled by the Australian keeper following an incisive Arsenal counter.

Those misses didn’t prove a source of regret as Sanchez produced a sublime contribution to set up Iwobi’s first goal since January in the 56th minute.

Exchanging passes in a blur of movement, Ramsey and Lacazette worked the ball smoothly into Sanchez inside the penalty area.

Faced with three Albion defenders, Sanchez knew a shot would be blocked, so he instinctively guided a back-heel towards the unmarked Iwobi, who had the simple task of firing home from eight yards.

Sanchez was in irrepressible mood and it took a combined of Dunk and Ryan to keep out his goal-bound shot, before Sead Kolasinac’s header was cleared off the line by March.

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