Liverpool (1) – (1) Arsenal
Reina O.G. (89′)
Anfield Stadium, Liverpool
What an absolute farce.
I was hugely optimistic going into the opening game of the new season and I thought that Arsenal would put in a decent performance at Anfield but how wrong I was.
Arsenal have had the best part of 4 months to bring in a competent goalkeeper and they haven’t done so. Arsenal fans haven’t got much confidence in Almunia or Fabianski yet they are the two main keepers we have in the squad.
And today was just ridiculous.
The first half was cagey, and Liverpool give Arsenal a massive lifeline.
Joe Cole flies in on Koscielny in the corner and gets sent off. The tackle was reckless, and you could argue it could have been only a booking but the fact was at the start of the second half, Arsenal had a one man advantage.
So what happens?
Within minutes of the restart some amateurish defending results in half a chance for David Ngog, who is possibly the most unpopular player amongst the Liverpool fans, and from a tight angle he lashes the ball into the net via the near post.
A decent goalkeeper shouldn’t be beaten from that angle!
Manuel Almunia has never been and will never be good enough for Arsenal Football Club.
And for the rest of the half I was hugely frustrated, not just with how the game panned out, but how Arsene Wenger, with his worldwide scouting network cannot find a single goalkeeper who isn’t shit. Honestly, the mind boggles, is it that hard to find a keeper who doesn’t make mistakes in every game?
I honestly believe that Almunia might be Arsene Wenger’s love child from an illegitimate relationship and he is being blackmailed into playing him and keeping him at the club.
How many points does he have to cost us before Arsene says that’s enough?
And literally 3 minutes later, Almunia made another massive blunder to give Liverpool a free header from a set-piece, which should have been taken and we would have been 2-0 down.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen and we only had a single goal to pull back.
But without Fabregas or Van Persie we looked completely lost. We had tonnes of the ball, but nothing to show for it. Reina had nothing to do for the next 40 minutes and Liverpool were extremely comfortable sitting back and soaking up the “pressure”, not that Arsenal were particularly penetrating.
It was the same old story – the game was getting far too narrow and Arsenal refused to get the ball wide and get in behind the Liverpool defence. So essentially Liverpool just had 2 solid banks of four and sat there, which is what you would expect from a team who were down to 10 men.
And the sad thing was, throughout the entire 90 minutes you would never have know it was 10 against 11. Arsenal didn’t make that extra man count and only a handful of players should be happy with their performances.
Sagna and Clichy were energetic as usually, trying to push on at every opportunity and support the attacks, although their crossing was woeful. Vermaelen and Koscielny were solid and seemed to gel well together, and I was pleased at how the dÃ©butante performed. Ridiculously though, he was given a second booking for a handball which was nowhere near being deliberate. Torres lashed the ball onto his arm from a yard away and he was given a yellow card. The decision was even more farcical when you consider David Ngog had a clearly deliberate handball unpunished earlier in the second half!
The rest of the team however were a disgrace.
You know how I feel about Almunia, and if Arsene refuses to bring another goalkeeper in before the transfer window closes I might consider giving up on Arsenal. It is completely ridiculous, to be 1 or 2 players away from a real squad challenging for the Premier League. Does Arsene like being “close” to having a title winning squad? I don’t understand the logic!
Unfortunately, Arsenal’s other new signing Marouane Chamakh looked completely lost. His first touch was poor, and his movement was none existent. He really should have been replaced by Van Persie with at least half an hour to go, because he was useless. So it was ironic then, that he contributed to the equaliser which was a Reina howler.
Too many players were on the periphery of the game, and contributed nothing. Arsenal were powder puff, and don’t let Reina’s own goal take anything away from the extremely poor performance. Rosicky and Van Persie had their moments when they came on but overall we didn’t play as a team. The whole game was summed up when Arsenal had 6 men on the break and they managed to waste a golden opportunity to nick all 3 points. It would have been completely criminal and completely undeserved, but the chance was there.
Maybe I’m being over critical as it was the first game of the season, but Liverpool put in more effort and more of a performance today. They had 10 men for over 45 minutes, but because of our deficiencies we gave them the lead.
Things need to change, and fast.