A True Carling Cup Classic from Aliadiere & Baptista
I don’t know about you but 2007 is only 10 days in and I’m loving every minute of it! Arsenal have comprehensively beaten Charlton 4-0, and Liverpool TWICE AT ANFIELD 3-1 and 6-3 – could you have a better start to the New Year?
3 games, 3 wins, 13 goals and some absolutely mouth-watering football.
You cannot ask anything more from Arsenal at the moment – they are playing clinical and ruthless football with style and possibly more importantly they are getting results. Arsenal are also getting most of their major players back from injury and now even the fringe players like Baptista and Aliadiere are playing great football.
Why would Wenger want any new players in the transfer window?
So onto last nights game which can only be described at a fantastic advert for the sport and one of the more shocking (in a good way obviously!) matches I have seen. Yes, Liverpool played a weakened side but so did Arsenal, with only Toure and Fabregas who could be considered first team players.
But the difference in the sides was obvious to see. Arsene Wenger has always put his faith in the kids and the experience these young players have gained over the last couple of seasons in this very competition could be seen by everyone.
And last night it paid off big time.
Like Saturday, the game was a bit scrappy for the first half an hour and chances for both teams were few and far between and you knew it needed a goal to spark the game into life.
And boy did it!
on 28 minutes Kolo Toure played a straight-forward ball over the top that split the Liverpool defence right open. Jeremie Aliadiere made a great run and controlled the ball beautifully before poking the ball passed the flailing Dudek. Arsenal were 1-0 up and it was game on.
But only 40 seconds before Kolo made a fantastic interception from Craig Bellamy to prevent the ball going to Robbie Fowler who was through on goal. How the game could have been different if it wasn’t for Captain Kolo?
As expected, Liverpool came out in force looking for an equaliser and Song cynically brought down Fowler on the edge of the area. Almunia parried the freekick only for Luis Garcia to scuff his shot to Robbie Fowler who cheekily flicked the ball past the Arsenal keeper.
At this stage it was interesting to see what this young side was made of. Liverpool had just equalised and now the intimidating Anfield crowd were as loud as ever – this would be a real test now.
But on 38 minutes after Liverpool put the pressure on from a couple of corners Julio Baptista was elbowed in the face from Paletta. Baptista looked to shift the ball to Kolo Toure from the freekick but instead sent a great freekick into the bottom corner of the net and Dudek didn’t even move. A brilliant goal for The Beast and that put Arsenal in the driving seat.
At this point Aliadiere and Baptista were linking up excellently and playing some brilliant interchange football. The play between these two players was a joy to watch.
Aliadiere was running for everything and he chased a lost cause into the Liverpool corner flag and played a smart reverse ball to left back Traore who won a corner off Steve Finnan lookalike Danny Guthrie.
Fabregas sent in a dangerous corner and once Dudek missed it the ball bounced off Hyypia and the ball was deflected into the net by Song to make it 3-1!
You were thinking at this stage that 3-1 would be a great lead to take into half-time for the kids but 5 minutes into first-half stoppage time Song fed the now in-form Baptista who dazzled Liverpool with a couple of step overs before feeding Aliadiere who was played onside by the left-back. Jeremie Aliadiere kept his head and coolly played a square ball to the Brazilian who took his chance to make it 4-1 before half time and seal a dream half with a well crafted goal.
Unsurprisingly the first 10 minutes of the second half Arsenal were content to let Liverpool have the ball and catch them on the break. With Aliadiere making some excellent runs Theo Walcott – who was surprisingly quiet all night – fed the Frenchman who was brought down by Hyypia for a penalty kick. Baptista grabbed the ball looking for his hattrick but Dudek made a decent save and seemingly kept Liverpool with a fighting chance of getting something.
But the penalty save was just delaying the inevitable from Baptista who was hell bent on getting his hattrick and he did so just 4 minutes later. A great ball from Fabregas sent Aliadiere down the left hand side who easily skipped passed the pedestrian Paletta, cut inside and fed Baptista who was 20 yards from goal. He had time to pick his spot and he didn’t disappoint by making the game 5-1! What on earth was going on?!
Inevitably Arsenal let their foot off the pedal and credit to Liverpool they gave it a go and tried to come back and a sweet volley from Steven Gerrard on 68 minutes and a header from Hyypia in the 80th minute made the game 5-3. Liverpool fans were thinking of an Istanbul-type comeback but Baptista killed all hope when Aliadiere capped off a great night by chasing a lost cause to setup ‘The Beast’ for his 4th of the night.
The thoroughly entertaining match ended 6-3 and Baptista and Aliadiere in particular played excellently. The Frenchman who I’ve slated in the past finally looks like he has found his feet and might just have a future at Arsenal, and the Brazilian looks like he’s finally settled at the club which can only mean good things for Arsenal.
Overall, the young players did fanastic and you couldn’t have asked more from them. Last night was by far the best I have seen the young guns play and it is scary to think there is more to come from these players.
After an amazing Anfield double Arsene’s kids will get all the plaudits and rightly so.