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Match Report: Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

by on March 5, 2012

 After the marvellous comeback the previous week against Tottenham, Mr. Wenger decided to go for the same starting XI, and you can’t blame him. However, the match against Liverpool highlighted our consistency to lack consistency, as we offered very little for the majority of the game. Having said that, it is unrealistic to expect a performance as good as the one against Spurs every week, and as long as we keep picking up the points, I don’t mind about the performance! The end justifies the means, eh?

We began this match in a similar fashion to the Spurs game – nervous on the ball, not retaining possession. It soon became clear that Suarez was on form, and our centre back partnership of Koscielny and Vermaelen were having some difficulty in containing him. Our defence were very exposed and were being penetrated at will.

After 8 minutes, however, a long, searching ball by Arteta found Walcott, whose first time shot was well saved by Reina. Two minutes later, a long ball by the Liverpool keeper evaded Koscielny, and Suarez was through. Luckily for Arsenal, Szczesny read the situation and headed away. His clearance fell to Steward Downing, who thankfully fluffed his lines.

Then, after 18 minutes, an intricate one-two between Suarez and Kuyt put the Uruguayan striker through on goal. He rounded the keeper, and inevitably went down. Penalty to Liverpool, and for the second week running, we have been the victim of a dive in the area. Kuyt, after his heroics in Liverpool’s Carling Cup victory, stepped up.

SAVED! Szczesny dived the right way and palmed the ball out. The rebound fell to the Dutch striker again, who had the chance to redeem himself. Unbelievably, he miss-hit the ball and our Polish no.1 clawed the it away. Somehow, somehow, it was still 0-0.

However Szczesny’s magic was undone within a matter of minutes. An incisive Liverpool counter-attack exploited our left side, with Gibbs nowhere to be seen. Henderson whipped the ball in, for Laurent Koscielny to inexplicably turn into his own net. Hard to take, but certainly a deserved lead.

Two minutes later, it could so easily have been 2-0. Charlie Adam brushed past a feeble block from Arteta, and played it into Kuyt. With a man over to his right, the unselfish Dutchman rolled it across, and Henderson’s firm side footed shot was palmed away by an outstretched Szczesny. The ball fell to Suarez, who, with the goal at his mercy, hit the woodwork. An almighty let off.

However as the saying goes, if you don’t take your chances, you’ll be punished. And how. After 30 minutes, a magnificent, Beckham – esq. cross from Sagna found Van Persie, who got in front of Carragher to head home. 1-1, and out of nowhere, The Gunners had equalised.

Ten minutes later, the ball fell to Suarez on the edge of the Arsenal box. The striker supremely wriggled his way past 3 Arsenal defenders, only for his tame, but accurate shot to be pushed away by the outstretched figure of Wojeich Szczesny. It seemed destined to nestle in the back of the net, but yet again the Polish keeper came to the rescue.

The storm was still not over. Deep into first half stoppage time, an inviting cross in from the left was deftly flicked towards goal from the onrushing Kuyt, but yet again, Arsenal were saved by the post. The referee blew for half time, and to be on level terms at the break was nothing short of a miracle for The Gunners!

Not long into the second half, a nasty collision left Arteta poleaxed. Abou Diaby came on, although later was substituted himself after picking up another niggle. Got to feel sorry for him.

Then, once again, Liverpool squandered a magnificent opportunity. Kuyt crossed in, and the ball went all the way across to the young full back Martin Kelly, who missed his kick from a few yards out. Surely they’d rue these missed chances?

A defence splitting through ball by who else but Alex Song found Gibbs, whose pull back fell to Walcott. His shot took a deflection and Reina managed to keep it out – Theo should have buried it. A warning sign for Liverpool.

Then. Then. In the second minute of injury time, Song’s delightful chip found RvP. Guess what happened next?

2-1.

Scenes of delirium ensued in the away end. A smash and grab if there ever was one. A truly marvellous assist and finish – a carbon copy to what we saw earlier this season against Everton. We held on, and ensured 6 points from our games versus Spurs and Liverpool, against all the odds. A fantastic two weeks, and all I can say is; Wham, Bam, Thankyou Van.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @rlewisafc

Till next time.

Second opinion by James Cook (@CookieElGooner)

Liverpool fans might say they were robbed in the game at the weekend, and in fact, it’s fair to say you wouldn’t disagree with them. It was an average Arsenal performance which lacked the sumptuous pass and move football we saw against a below par Sp*rs side the previous week and on another day we might have seen an inquest from the fans and the impulsive media over why we played so badly against the ‘racists’.

However … we picked up yet another 3 points! Van Persie had just two shots on targets in the whole match but ended up scoring two goals, once again proving why he’s probably the best striker in the world.

 As much as I respect the Arsenal God (Dennis Bergkamp), duh who else?! I disagree with him (I’m probably going to hell for this) regading Van Persie, if RVP was to retreat into a second striker or a playmaker role then we wouldn’t see the same intelligence of movement he shows as a central striker, how many times do we see him score from inside the 6 yard box? pic.twitter.com/jakRDETM

This image shows how deep Van Persie had to come to recieve the ball. On the rare occassion he did recieve a forward pass in the final third, he ended up scoring two goals, both from long passes.

There are advantages and disadvantages, he would be able to utilise his long range shooting ability and great vision but at the moment we dont have a striker who could score half the goals he does, something which should be urgently addressed in the Summer with Podolski a potential signing.

Players like Rosicky, Benayoun and Walcott were all nullified by Liverpool throughout the game and therefore we found it very difficult to retain possession. The three mentioned are all players who thrive on having lots of space, especially the latter and it seemed to be one of those days in which the whole team forgets to play football. Oh yeah, bar Van Persie.

The fact of the matter is we could’ve been at least 3-0 down at half time, Koscielny was experiencing the rarity of a poor performance and at times looked like the player who’d arguably cost us a Carling Cup trophy our opponents had won the week before. Sir Chesney was certainly keeping our hopes alive  and that penalty save after Luis Suarez experienced an unfortunate ‘spasm’ when one on one with the Great Pole was brilliant. Sorry what was that, he didn’t spasm I hear you say? He dived? Never! I’m sorry but that’s just ludicrous, poor Luis Sua . . .Cannibal.

I thought Sagna had a fantastic game yesterday, it seems the thrashing at Sp*rs has really given him the confidence to bounce back from injury and a goal and assist in two games has put the doubters about his attacking play (including me) to bed for the time being. Gibbs has also had a positive impact since coming back into the side and with a run of games seems like he can be as destructive going forward as Gareth Ape down the road.

When the two full backs push forward we often see either Alex Song or Mikel Arteta stay back, adding a bit more security in case the opposition break. This sees Arsenal end up playing something like a 3-3-3-1, a strange formation to look at numerically but one which gives Arsenal extra fluidity and zest. Van Persie’s average position during the Liverpool match was beside Rosicky in front of the half way line with Walcott often as high up as Liverpool’s defensive line in between Skrtel and Enrique.

Overall I think we were quite lacklustre and in previous weeks we may have seen the teams crumble into oblivion. However this Arsenal side has shown they have a steel backbone after all highlighted by the comeback against Tottenham and Liverpool, if we can keep up our consistency then no doubt we should end up finishing 3rd. Do Arsenal have the mettle and resilience to do this? No doubt we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks starting with what will be the greatest comeback of Arsene Wengers career on Tuesday night, personally I’d rather focus on the league instead of putting out a full strength side, but after all “Arsene knows!”

Till next time Gooners, may the cannon be with you.

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