Contrasting fortunes for Wenger and Mourinho

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LONDON (AP) — 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 on Sunday.

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 defense.

The experiment didn't work.

A rampant Liverpool came from behind to beat Arsenal 4-3 at Emirates Stadium, ripping Wenger's young defense 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 leveled 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. Classy goals by Adam Lallana, Coutinho and Sadio Mane put the Reds in control before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Chambers scored to give Arsenal hope — in vain.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, in his first full season in charge, saw both sides of a sensational result.

"Scoring four goals is wonderful, conceding three is the opposite of that emotion," he said. "It was hard work but a deserved win in the end. It feels brilliant at the moment, actually."

"We were far away today from showing our whole quality," he added. "But we showed a few nice signs, a few not-so-nice signs."

The signs were not so encouraging for Arsenal, which already looks to be struggling to meet fans' expectations after finishing as runner-up to Leicester last season.

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 equalizer 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.

He added: "Maybe we lacked a bit of experience, but if you look well at the goals, I don't think it was necessarily the inexperienced players that cost us the goals today."

However, Wenger highlighted the absentees in defense - Gabriel Paulista, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny — while agreeing on the need to be ready for the first game of the season.

"But we are not stupid," Wenger said. "We prepared well the players we have in, but I think you have to consider we have been a bit unlucky as well... You have to sometimes accept that you cannot control absolutely everything."

There was no need for such excuses from Mourinho, whose first league game in charge of United was a far more comfortable affair.

Juan Mata opened the scoring five minutes before halftime and captain Wayne Rooney headed United's second in the 59th before Ibrahimovic rifled home a shot from 25 meters (yards). Adam Smith later scored Bournemouth's consolation goal.

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.

"But for the team, you have to forget the passport, you have to forget 34 years old, because the body and the mentality is not of a 34-year-old guy. So, I think he's at the top of his qualities."

With Pep Guardiola's Manchester City beating Sunderland 2-1 on Saturday, and Chelsea hosting West Ham in a London derby on Monday night, United's victory was an important one, at least psychologically.

And even Mourinho, who has enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, admitted to feeling nervous before his first league game in charge of the 20-time English champions.

"To be honest, before the match a little bit, yes," Mourinho said. "But to have that feeling is normal... experience helps in many things, but always to have a little nerves is good."

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