All set for big change at Anchovy High
While a defeated Arsene Wenger was counting the cost of Arsenal's young defenders, a triumphant Jose Mourinho highlighted the value of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's experience to Manchester United on a day of contrasts for the two managers yesterday.
With three of his first-team defenders unavailable to face Liverpool, Wenger gave an English Premier League debut to 20-year-old Rob Holding, alongside 21-year-old Calum Chambers in central defence.
The experiment didn't work.
A rampant Liverpool came from behind to beat Arsenal 4-3 at Emirates Stadium, ripping Wenger's young defence to pieces with consummate ease in the second half.
By contrast, the 34-year-old Ibrahimovic on his EPL debut helped his team's attacking play and then scored a superb goal as United opened its campaign with a 3-1 win at Bournemouth.
Theo Walcott had put Arsenal ahead at Emirates Stadium, but his side was soon overwhelmed after Liverpool levelled through Philippe Coutinho on the stroke of halftime and then raced into a 4-1 lead after the break.
Liverpool's fluent passing and clinical finishing in the second half was simply too hot for Arsenal to handle.
With his team booed off the pitch, as much for the club's lack of new signings as for another season-opening defeat, Wenger pointed to Coutinho's equaliser as the turning point.
"Of course we are bitterly disappointed," said the Frenchman, who will mark his 20th year in charge next month. "It was a contrast between the two halves. We lost this game for many reasons and one of them is (the impact) of Liverpool making it 1-1 just before half-time.
Mourinho was pleased with the victory and the performance from Ibrahimovic, with the Swedish forward's role at United expected to go beyond just his performances on the pitch.
"The first thing I can tell you is that his table for breakfast and his table for meals, he is surrounded by the young ones, surrounded by the kids," Mourinho said. "Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, these are the guys that are with him on the table. So he knows what he can be for them.