Boa Morte

Petit receives his JVC Player of the Month Award before the game.

Anelka and Ince tangle.

Marc Overmars powers in a shot.

Paul Ince and Lee Dixon acknowledge each other.

Boa Morte bursts through Berger and Redknapp.

The two Patricks..Vieira and Berger.

Anelka skips past Heggem.

0 - 0
Attendance : 38,107

By David Alexander

Those who accuse Arsene Wenger of having a poor squad, of weakness beyond the starting eleven, would have been surprised at Highbury.

While Arsenal lacked the cutting edge to open up a Liverpool side who simply hoofed the ball out of touch or to Michael Owen, there were encouraging signs.

David Grondin made his full Premiership debut, Matthew Upson slotted into the defence as if he had been there for years and Alex Manninger, after a shaky cup tie against Preston, made one magnificent save which restored his confidence.

While Arsenal dominated the game, this was a scrappy game and one of the better opportunities to take on Liverpool.

That it finished 0-0 was more down to profligate finishing and sturdy Liverpool defending than anything else.

Wenger said: "We played with two youngsters in defence and a young
keeper and they played very well.

"Grondin had a nervous start and is still only in the French under-18 squad and he has enough talent to go all the way.

"Liverpool came here to defend and they did so very well. Every time we got the ball we were in front of 11 players.

"But we were not creative enough in the attacking part of the game."

Liverpool counterpart Gerard Houllier admitted his side had to defend throughout: "We should have taken more initiative but we showed some of the type of defending Arsenal have showed.

"Arsenal laid siege on us and we could not breath. We just had to defend."

Both sides created chances in a typically frenetic first half. Marc Overmars hit the side netting and Ray Parlour tested David James from the edge of the box.

But Liverpool also missed a good chance when Michael Owen sped away from the defence and hit the side netting.

With David Grondin playing at left back, the defence became more inexperienced when Bould had to go off with a worrying cartilage shin injury. Matthew Upson came on and almost scored immediately with a header from Manu's free kick.

Alex Manninger produced a stunning save moments from the interval when Owen's cross was volleyed goalwards by Steve Harkness.

Eight minutes into the second half Upson won a header in the Liverpool area and how the ball stayed out from the subsequent shots fired goalwards by Boa Morte, Anelka and Keown, only Liverpool will know.

Redknapp hit a free kick inside the near post and Manninger saved well, but the best Liverpool could offer after that was a fall in the area from Owen under Upson's challenge.

So it was a disappointing end to a game that had promised so much, but since Liverpool did the double over Arsenal last season, at least the Gunners can take heart after not losing this year to their Merseyside nemesis.

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