Arsenal (1) – (1) Liverpool
The Emirates Stadium, London
It’s hard not to feel frustrated after that game. Where do I even start?
We knew Liverpool would sit back, and catch us on the break. And even though Liverpool were well organised they were very, very lucky to end up drawing tonight.
Almost everything seemed to go against Arsenal.
We started the game well and got the opening goal when Robin Van Persie whiped in a great cross onto the head Adebayor, who couldn’t miss from that position.
But after being in control of the game we pressed the self-destruct button.
Only 3 minutes later, Liverpool equalised. I have to point this out right now – Emmanuel Eboue is a massive liability. Shocking, he really is. I have defended him in the past but tonight he was a complete disgrace. He made no effort to push on down the right wing and gave the ball away so many times. And the more I watch the Liverpool goal the more p*ssed off I get.
Flamini loses the ball to Gerrard on the right, and Eboue is just strolling back. He gets sucked into the middle where the central defenders are and leaves Flamini to track Gerrard. Eboue is just a coward. He doesn’t get involved in the game and in that passage of play he just left Gerrard – who was running down the left side – to Toure and then Flamini! People say by playing Theo you lose out defensively but Eboue offered nothing to the Arsenal rearguard.
Watch Eboue in the move Liverpool scored from. It’s a disgrace.
And with that Liverpool scored the massive away goal which they wanted. Talk about gifting them a massive boost.
And early in the second half, Almunia was called upon to make an excellent save from Kuyt, but it all stemmed from Eboue’s idiocy!
Liverpool had a freekick on the right side which was hit towards the back post by captain Steven Gerrard. Martin Skrtel won the header and knocked it inside but instead of challenging for the header Eboue decided to dive and give the defender a free header in the 6 yard box!
Luckily Almunia made an excellent save.
But seriously, it’s like playing with 10 men.
Arsenal basically dominated the second half, and we played some excellent football but were let down at the wrong moments. Adebayor still seems to have a terrible touch (does he train?) and Hleb looked like he was dead on his feet. Theo looked lively when he came on but the attacking threat was basically left to Fabregas, Flamini, Toure and Clichy running from deep.
Then two moments which should have given Arsenal what they deserved.
In a congested Liverpool half, Hleb managed to wriggle through and was pulled down by Kuyt and amazingly a penalty wasn’t awarded. When I saw the move in real-time I thought it was a stone wall penalty and the replays have confirmed that. He was in on goal and Kuyt pulls him down. I defy anyone to say that was not a penalty kick.
And then later on in the half, Nicklas Bendtner blocked a goal-bound effort from Cesc Fabregas. Ironically Bendtner added something to the Arsenal attack when he came on (maybe because he can actually control the ball and hold it up) and was really unlucky to get in the way of the shot.
Seriously, can our luck get any worse?
The penalty decision in particular though really baffles me. Would the foul be given if it was at Anfield, Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge? Of course it would. It’s not as if it was a debatable decision, and being the home side you would think things would go our way – not the complete opposite!
And when you see Chelsea’s goal against Fenerbahce you wonder why we can’t get that kind of luck!
People will say tonights result could have been a lot worse, but the fact is our play deserved much more. In a perverse way though a 1-1 scoreline might put Arsenal in a better mindset going into the Anfield clash, since we have to look to score and if we do it will really put the pressure on Liverpool. If we go into the game 2-1 up we wouldn’t be sure whether to stick or twist and let’s be honest, our defending isn’t exactly the best.
Manuel Almunia: 7/10
Made a vital, vital save early in the second half to deny Liverpool another away goal. Could he have done better for the first goal? Maybe if he doesn’t come out it gives Gerrard a decision to make when crossing the ball to Kuyt.
Kolo Toure: 7/10
Ran up and down the right side all night and looked shattered towards the end of the match. Almost had to play in two positions with Eboue ‘playing’ ahead of him.
William Gallas: 7/10
Tried to rally the troups by pushing forward in the second half and defended well.
Philippe Senderos: 7/10
Torres caused a few problems but didn’t really have a clear chance at the Arsenal goal. All in all kept him quiet and restricted his threat.
Gael Clichy: 8/10
Up and down the pitch again. One of the few players who gives 110% week in and week out. Like Toure, was almost down the flank by himself. Everyone seemed to be playing the ball to Clichy on the left side in the second half.
Emmanuel Eboue: 4/10
Not sure why he plays. Had a chance to score but the ball was probably just behind him. Almost gifted Liverpool a second goal and offered no sort of offensive threat.
Mathieu Flamini: 8/10
Ran everywhere in the midfield and made some excellent tackles. Showed passion and desire and wouldn’t stop closing down. Excellent engine.
Cesc Fabregas: 8/10
Found it hard going against a congested Liverpool midfield but made some vital openings and almost scored himself. Was left to run the midfield by himself as the wide players were non-existant.
Alexander Hleb: 6/10
In and out of the game. Struggled to make an impact and hasn’t been playing well for a while now. The problem is without any other options Hleb knows he’ll be playing every week and it looks like he is getting complacent.
Robin Van Persie: 6/10
Come off at half time with a thigh problem. Great delivery for the opening goal, and as ever one of only a few players willing to shoot and test the goalkeeper.
Emmanuel Adebayor: 6/10
Found it tough against the Liverpool defence but did come into the game more in the second half. Took the goal well but still struggling with his first touch.
Theo Walcott: 7/10
Replaced Van Persie at half time and looked lively. He was hampered though when Bendtner came on as he was forced to switch sides and play on the right, and with Arsenal’s persistance to play down the left saw less and less of the ball as the second half progressed.
Nicklas Bendtner: 7/10
Showned some good touches and added something to the attack. Not sure if he was trying to grab the glory with Fabregas’ chance or was just unlucky.