Johnson (og) 50, Arshavin 58
Yesterday was probably the saddest day of the season so far. Forget about Lyon and Fiorentina and all the other defeats this one has delivered to biggest kick to the sola plexus!
It is nothing to do with the opposition it is simply that once more, from a winning position, a position of dominance; we have contrived to throw away the advantage. All too often Liverpool sides of the past, when faced with such adversity, would have roared back however, we did nothing and succumbed weakly to a side that were there for the taking. In the end it was all too easy for Arsenal.
This was our strongest team as near as dam it. Torres was returned but Lucas was preferred to Aquilani who will no doubt be seen again in November 2011 when he is next ready, poor delicate little flower! Seriously there comes a time when you need to take a chance and give a player enough rope to live or die by what he does rather mollycoddling or protecting him? No doubt Rafa will say he is not ready but when he is ready what will he be ready for?
We began brightly and nearly got the perfect start. Gerrard after, receiving Torres’ lay off around the centre circle, returned the ball to him on the edge of the area. Had Torres been fitter and played more matches you would have put your house on a goal however, the shot was weak and easily saved by Almunia. Nonetheless we didn’t have to wait long.
Gerrard was taken out by Denilson about 10 -15 meters from the edge on the edge of the area. Aurelio, rather than have a punt, decided to float the ball into the area. Almunia flapped at it under Lucas’ challenge and didn’t clear it properly and Kuyt poked it home from about ten yards. Gerrard had a more than decent claim for a penalty turned down after Gallas’ clumsy tackle. He lost control of the ball before contact was made but all the same Gallas was lucky to get away with it. Referee Webb’s positioning seemed fine so what was the explanation?
Nonetheless the half time lead was just reward for a decent performance. All too often we have let Arsenal take the initiative on our home turf. Not so this time we forced the pace applied ourselves well as the flowing passing moves that the opposition are renown for were snaffled out or simply didn’t’ materialise mainly because we wouldn’t let them.
Arsenal’s second half was a good as our first however, they needed some luck to get themselves going. Fabregas fed Nasri whose cross was deflected off Carragher. Johnson, arriving at pace, couldn’t avoid turning it into his own net. An unfortunate goal that can happen any time but not one we needed at this stage of the game and the season. Although one can’t blame Johnson for the first sadly he was culpable for Arsenal’s second which followed eight minutes later. Fabregas’ cross flirted with Walcott but found Arshavin on the edge of our area. Johnson was simply asleep getting sucked in by the ball giving the Russian time to collect, cut inside the full back and crash and unstoppable effort into the top left corner off the post.
Previously we would have hit back and made Arsenal pay however the response was flat. Rafa moved players around and bought on Aquilani and Ngog but there was no spark or resolve, almost as if we already knew we had missed the opportunity and didn’t know how to get it back? No doubt this will lead to yet more enquiries about where the magic has gone and when we can expect to recover it? And that, as every game goes by, seems to be a harder question to answer.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson (Degen 82), Agger, Aurelio, Carragher, Gerrard, Benayoun (Ngog 79), Mascherano (Aquilani 65), Lucas, Torres, Kuyt. Substitutes Cavalieri, Insua, Degen, Skrtel, Dossena, Aquilani, Ngog
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Vermaelen, Gallas, Traore (Silvestre 87), Fabregas, Nasri, Walcott (Diaby 70), Denilson, Song Billong, Arshavin (Ramsey 90+2) Substitutes Fabianski, Silvestre, Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshere, Eduardo, Vela