Sunday, December 13, 2009

Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal: A Tale of 2 Halves

Liverpool 1 Arsenal 2

Tale of two halves? A bit of a cliché but it certainly sums up the almost historic victory at Anfield. Liverpool outplayed Arsenal in the first half. We never really got going. Nasri and Fabegas just weren’t getting in the game, Walcott didn’t have much of an effect and Arshavin was utterly isolated up front hardly had a touch. Liverpool just knew exactly what we were going to do and were spreading the ball around, especially out wide to Johnson who looked threatening. Liverpool were aggressive and had a few good chances. On a counter-attack Torres was in inside 12 minutes but shot straight at the goalkeeper. We didn’t have a shot until the half hour mark, and shots on the goal in the first half were only two I can remember, Denilson’s little chip went straight to the keeper and Nasri’s shot from outside was wide. It seemed the same Arsenal since RVP’s injury, lacking goal scoring opportunities and without Bendner too Arsenal looked all very similar. If we hadn’t of won the game, everyone would have been saying that we need a big goal scorer and lack physicality etc. Anyway Liverpool dominated the first half, they essentially had their first choice team and looked hungry to win. It wasn’t a lack of hunger on Arsenal’s part, they just could open up the space. And so finally Liverpool scored. Almunia had earlier looked indecisive on balls into the box, late in coming to them and then punching them out rather weakly. All in all he hasn’t looked that good since he came back from the flu … what is up with him? So another set piece, a good driven ball from Gerrard, went straight through to Almunia who punch weakly and Kuyt just whacked it in.

So what to do? The second half started without changes and though Arsenal came out the brighter, there was an early chance for Liverpool with Almunia looking shakey. Apparently Arsene had screamed at the player but it was Arsene’s switching Nasri and Walcott which turned out to be a clever move, because Walcott’s pace and threat did push Johnson further back and it gave Nasri some space on the right. It was Nasri, then, who taking a Fabegas pass finally got around the back of the Liverpool right back and drove a ball in toward Arshavin. Arshavin was in fact covered by two Liverpool defenders but Carragher nicked the ball which then bounced off onto Johnson’s foot and into the goal. So game on. It was a lucky goal but after that Liverpool never really threatened. Indeed, the Arsenal defense stood tall for the next forty minutes. But moreover Arsenal seemed to be winning the midfield battle, or at least moving the ball around with more authority as Liverpool who had dominated this space preferred the longer ball to Torres and Gerrard. But I am jumping ahead because just before the our mark Arshavin, given a little room on the edge of the box collected a pass turned and hit an absolutely brilliant strike that nicked the inside of the post and went in. Reina just stood there. Sure the next half an hour were nail biting, and certainly Liverpool had chances and created a few frightening moments. Walcott went off for Diaby after 70 minutes. Perhaps to strengthen mid field, more probably because Walcott was running out of steam. Diaby was OK but his passing was a little wayward. Arshavin got a knock at 90 minutes and couldn’t continue. He did run off, so hopefully it is not more than a bruise. Ramsey came on for him. Traore went off a few minutes later with what looked like a hamstring twinge after a run down the wing. Sylvester came on. Hopefully both Arshavin and Traore are OK. Arsenal ran down the clock in the last few minutes pretty well and Liverpool were beaten. A quite amazing win. Certainly the best result away from home this season.

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