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Golden debut

Arsenal's Silva clinches Shield vs. Reds in first match

Posted: Sunday August 11, 2002 11:32 AM
Updated: Sunday August 11, 2002 2:54 PM
  Gilberto Silva Gilberto Silva came on as a substitute at halftime and hit the winner. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

CARDIFF (Reuters) -- Double winners Arsenal added the Community Shield to their bulging trophy cabinet on Sunday when Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva gave them a 1-0 victory over Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.

Close season signing Silva, a second-half substitute, crashed the ball past Liverpool's outstanding Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek in the 69th minute to secure Arsene Wenger's side a deserved victory in the traditional curtain raiser to the new Premier League season.

Thierry Henry had earlier struck the post for Arsenal, who showed they have no intention of relinquishing the domestic dominance that brought them the Premier League title and FA Cup last season.

"Winning trophies is a good habit to have," said Wenger afterwards.

"I was pleased because it was a competitive game...neither side was short of motivation and we showed we are ready.

"It was a fantastic moment for Gilberto, too. He is a little bit short physically at the moment, but he still managed to arrive in the box at the right time."

Liverpool were left frustrated after having a number of penalty appeals turned down, the strongest when Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira appeared to fell their new Senegalese signing El Hadji Diouf 18 minutes from time.

"It was a penalty," said striker Michael Owen.

"Just because he [Diouf] made a meal of it does not mean that it wasn't a foul.

"It's disappointing to lose, but it's not the be-all and end-all of the season. There are more important matches to come."

Arsenal -- despite the absence of now-retired defensive pair Tony Adams and Lee Dixon along with injury victims Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg and Giovanni Bronckhorst -- controlled most of the first half against a disjointed Liverpool.

Wenger's side came closest when Dudek pulled off a superb triple save to deny Henry and then two follow-up efforts from Dennis Bergkamp after 20 minutes.

Three-man attack

Liverpool fielded new signing Diouf in a new look three-man attack but their only real chance of the first half came in the 29th minute when Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman blocked an Emile Heskey drive after a slick link up between Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

"We were unlucky with the penalty decisions, but on the day they were better than us," said Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier.

"We looked like we were watching them play early on...maybe we gave them too much respect."

The champions almost went in front two minutes into the second period when Bergkamp released the lively Henry. The French striker, doubtless still smarting after his country's humiliating World Cup exit, sped clear of his markers but Dudek again rescued Liverpool by diverting his shot on to the post.

The Pole, who also had a disappointing World Cup, plunged low to deny Sylvain Wiltord and Henry again soon but as the weather deteriorated, so Liverpool improved and Owen was a touch away from converting a Gerrard corner on the hour.

Owen thought he was pushed and claimed another penalty in vain minutes later when Lauren challenged him in the area, while at the other end Bergkamp squandered a good chance.

The Dutchman quickly made amends, though, skipping clear down the left after 69 minutes before cutting the ball back for midfielder Silva -- a regular in the Brazil team that secured the country's fifth World Cup triumph in June -- to drill the ball decisively through Dudek's legs.

Diouf then looked to have been tripped by Vieira in the penalty area but referee Alan Wiley again waved away Liverpool's appeals.

Despite that incident, the Merseysiders could have few quibbles about failing to retain the trophy they won, under its former name the Charity Shield, by beating Manchester United 12 months ago.

Wenger: Gerrard should have been sent off

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard should have been sent off in their Community Shield win for what the Frenchman branded a reckless challenge on Patrick Vieira.

Gerrard was the first of six players booked -- including Vieira -- when the England midfielder clattered into the Arsenal captain after just six minutes at the Millennium Stadium.

Wenger, who said he nearly took Vieira off because of the knock, told reporters: "I think it was a bad challenge. It was the only bad challenge -- the others were late tackles or because of physically being a bit short.

"I like Gerrard as a player but for that kind of tackle he should have seen red...he's a great player but that tackle was reckless and dangerous.

"Patrick goes on the pitch and doesn't expect any presents but he always expects everybody to behave fairly. Because if it doesn't happen, you've no football anymore."

Wenger said: "I nearly took Patrick off...But he said he was alright, that's why I kept him on."

Wenger acknowledged he had been bracing for a tough game, even though Sunday's clash forms part of the preseason friendly calendar a week before the start of the Premier League season.

"I don't think that Arsenal versus Liverpool or Manchester United can be a really friendly, even if you played in South Africa, on a poor ground," he said.

Arsenal delighted by Silva's magical start

Arsenal hailed new Brazilian signing Gilberto Silva after the midfielder stepped off the bench to score the winner Sunday.

Silva, who six weeks ago was helping Brazil to a fifth World Cup triumph, chose not to speak to reporters after the game at the Millennium Stadium but teammate Lauren professed himself very impressed.

"His first game, first goal, first medal -- I think it's a magical start," said the Cameroon international. "He looks good in training, he's a very good player."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was also pleased with the Brazilian, whom he signed more for his defensive capabilities than his eye for goal.

"He's a bright, intelligent boy," Wenger said. "He makes things simple and gets in the box at the right time.

"He was maybe a little bit surprised by the physical side of the fight but he will adapt quickly to that and I believe he will be a very strong player for us."

Arsenal defender Sol Campbell said he was pleased with the victory but warned there was plenty of hard work ahead.

"It's a great start, but we have got to set our stall out now for the start of the season. They are a great side and we are all happy with the win," said the England international.

"We've just got to keep it going -- it's a long season."

Campbell said Arsenal's win was all the more satisfying as it was achieved without midfielders Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg, who are both out of action until at least November with injuries.

"Those guys will be back in November and it will be like having two new players," he said. "Knowing that gives us confidence."

Penalty denied

Liverpool's El Hadji Diouf was adamant his team should have been awarded a second-half penalty.

The Senegal forward went down under a challenge from Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira 18 minutes from time with Liverpool trailing 1-0 but referee Alan Wiley waved away appeals for a spotkick.

"I thought I was fouled," Diouf said. "It was a penalty but all that matters is the referee's opinion. It is up to the referee on the pitch to decide but I think this time he made a mistake.

"I think if the referee looks again at the tape he will see that."

Diouf said he was nonetheless encouraged by his first serious outing in English football. "We came across a very good Arsenal side but we didn't crack, we played our game," he said.

"Now we will just go back and work harder to make sure we are ready for the start of the championship."

Arsenal hungry for more success, says Wenger

Arsene Wenger watched his Arsenal double-winning team beat Liverpool and said they were hungry for more success.

Wenger, whose side won a tough-tackling clash at the Millennium Stadium, promised there would be no repeat of the season after their 1998 league and FA Cup double, when the Gunners surrendered to treble-winning Manchester United.

"It was not a friendly match because my team wants more," said Wenger after Gilberto Silva's second-half strike decided the encounter against Liverpool.

"They are hungry, they want to win more and they've shown today that their attitude on that level was spot-on.

"From last season, we got great belief and a good confidence level...and games like today are a good indication of the level of motivation and how much more they want.

"I am personally convinced, since seeing them in pre-season, that it's not like 1999. This team wants more -- they do no want to relax."

After his side's performance, which included much of the fluent passing game from last season that kept Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek on his toes, Wenger said: "We looked quite confident and believed in what we did.

Creating chances

"We kept the ball well in the first 25 minutes, afterwards our passing became a little less sharp, but overall I think we created the chances to win it.

"Dudek had a great game today and kept them in the game."

As for his own rearguard, he said: "It was more of a fight in the last 20 minutes but we never really looked under threat, apart maybe from the throw-ins and free-kicks.

"David Seaman did not have too many saves to make today."

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier said that on Sunday's performance his team were still not ready for a Premier League season that kicks off next weekend at Aston Villa.

"Despite the fact that we could have claimed a penalty, I still think that Arsenal were superior to us today.

"I think whether we gave them too much respect at the beginning of the game, or whether it was just a day off at the office, it took us practically half an hour to get into the game.

"Once we started, it was more even...(but) we're not ready yet. That's a fact. It would be very surprising if we were ready at the beginning of the season. We need to have more fluidity in our game.

"If you defend well against Arsenal you do the first job, but you've also got to attack them. And I personally think we were too shy in the attacking...we need more work on our passing and construction."

His other regret was the penalty appeal after new Senegal signing El Hadji Diouf went down under a challenge from Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira.

"The video replay shows there was a penalty...but we're not going to argue. It doesn't help you and you don't make progress."

Summary

Arsenal 1 Liverpool 0 - result

FA Community Shield

Scorer: Gilberto Silva 69

Halftime: 0-0; Attendance: 67,337

Teams:

Arsenal: 1-David Seaman; 12-Lauren, 5-Martin Keown, 23-Sol Campbell, 3-Ashley Cole; 15-Ray Parlour, 4-Patrick Vieira, 17-Edu (19-Gilberto Silva 45); 11-Sylvain Wiltord, 10-Dennis Bergkamp (28-Kolo Toure 85), 14-Thierry Henry

Liverpool: 1-Jerzy Dudek; 3-Abel Xavier (6-Markus Babbel 78), 4-Sami Hyppia, 2-Stephane Henchoz, 30-Djimi Traore (28-Bruno Cheyrou 88); 18-John Arne Riise, 17-Steven Gerrard, 16-Dietmar Hamann (13-Danny Murphy 67); 8-Emile Heskey (5-Milan Baros 74), 10-Michael Owen (7-Vladimir Smicer 85), 9-El Hadji Diouf


 
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