Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson defends duo after draw

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson refused to blame Joe Cole or Jose Reina after Arsenal snatched a last-gasp draw in their season-opener at Anfield.

The Merseysiders' 10 men looked to have overcome the sending-off of new signing Cole as they clung onto a 1-0 scoreline entering stoppage time of a pulsating Barclays Premier League clash. But late pressure from the Gunners finally paid off as Reina tried to grab the ball after Marouane Chamakh had hit the post and succeeded only in turning it into his own goal.

"Anyone who has watched Joe play will realise he is not the guy that goes in for blood-curdling tackles." said Hodgson. "Replays suggest he was a little bit unlucky."

He added: "He will be a big loss if he is suspended. We will look at the video again, maybe try to find out from the referee and experts if we do have a case for appeal.

"I don't want a frivolous appeal but Joe Cole has an unblemished record in his career. He has never been sent off and has very few yellow cards."

Reina's blunder came minutes after he had produced a fine fingertip save to keep out a brilliant Tomas Rosicky shot.

Hodgson said: "I thought he played well considering he didn't have an awful lot to do, but what he did came spasmodically. There were an enormous number of positives but the unfortunate negative was that he let in a goal which under normal circumstances he would have kept out."

Liverpool responded to Cole's red card by making a blistering start to the second half and taking the lead through David Ngog after 46 minutes. But the Reds eventually tired and, after a brief spell with nine men due to injury to Daniel Agger, the visitors finally applied some pressure late on which resulted in them snatching a point.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "When we were playing against 10 men it became very difficult as they defended very deep. In fairness to them, they defended very well and took some fluency out of the game.

"But I give credit to my team because we kept going and kept going and in the end we got the equaliser. Considering we are at Liverpool, it is a decent result."


From Belfast Telegraph