Koscielny (og) (23)
van Persie (31), (90)
Yet another home game of lost opportunities although this time it could be decisive. Despite what he might say in interviews Arsene Wenger, when he reflects on this game, will smile and count his blessings that it wasn’t over long before his side decided to make a meaningful contribution to it.
This was game we dominated. Chances weren’t as abundant as they normally are at Anfield however we had more than enough to be comfortably in front before van Persie made his mark. The possession stats, nearly two thirds in our favour, underline just how much we in control. However, no sour grapes, as ever this season, when we are at home chances weren’t taken. Robin van Persie has been a notch or two above most strikers we’ve allowed to make it tell in this period and yesterday we paid for it. The Champions League chance isn’t over but we will need a mighty shift in fortunes to make it happen.
Van Persie achieved at Anfield, in the space on ninety minutes, what our collective front line(s) have failed to do for all of this season, taking vital chances when it mattered, he has more goals this season more than Carroll, Suarez and Kuyt put together. Kenny, in his post match interview, rightly suggested that the performance was good and didn’t reflect the result however looking at the number of times we’ve seen this at Anfield, and where we could have been had we turned this into points, it makes for scant consolation.
The line up reflected the injuries to Johnson, Gerrard and Agger, in came Carragher, Spearing, and Kelly. From the kick off it was a familiar story. Plenty of invention and initiative, lots of friskiness going forward however when things got serious ie. when we had to convert all this in chances and or goals we were found wanting.
The first incident of note was the “penalty”. Suarez went own under Szczesny’s challenge. There was a suggestion of contact, on the shin, however, it was unconvincing. Suarez’s reaction was as if Szczesny had strapped him down and banged a rusty nail threw his shin, it was out of all proportion to the challenge and frankly embarrassing. Someone needs to have a word some would say this is long overdue?
Kuyt pulled “rank” on Charlie Adam over the penalty and quite rightly given his pitiful effort at Wembley however, his effort was saved by Szczesny who also did well to deal with his weak follow up. Had Kuyt left it to Henderson, who was behind him and would have delivered a stronger touch, we would have been one up however he wasn’t to know. I didn’t know this but this is our sixth penalty miss of the season. It’s a wonder we won on Sunday……. answers on a postcard to “LFC Enigma Competition” you know the address!
Nonetheless we seemed unperturbed by the miss and it was not long before Henderson’s good cross saw Koscielny, teaching our forwards a lesson or two, deftly, turned it into his net. Clearly you‘d take it however I rather Koscielny rake his studs down Suarez’s shin and we score from the penalty rather than the motley series of events that saw us go one up!
We could have finished things off when, after good build up played involving Adam, Kuyt and Henderson, Suarez rapped the post. However after that the inevitable occurred. Sagna’s looping seemingly speculative cross, again from the right, appeared innocuous however van Persie turned it into gold by nipping in front of Carragher to head home. It must be dispiriting for Carragher, with his experience he must know that a player like van Persie should never be allowed to get between defender and goal.
Shortly after we saw the other side of Suarez with a weaving tight run into the box which saw him take out Song and Vermaelen and then forcing Szczesny had to stretch to knock his shot way from entering the net at the bottom corner. Then we saw Kuyt’s nudged effort, from Adam’s cross, trickle agonisingly onto the post again!
In the second half hopes of turning our first half dominance into goals continued to elude us. Despite swarming over Arsenal we were found wanting. We were having some joy of the wings as Arsenal backed off time and time again allowing us to sweep in a series of dangerous cross however, they fell on fallow ground for example Kelly, from Kuyt’s cross, failed to execute what seemed to be a simple tap in from six yards out. Given the service from the flanks one wondered why Andy Carroll didn’t start, or is that not we bought him for? We continued to have the lion’s share of possession however, one got the feeling it wasn’t to be our day Walcott nearly made us pay but it was left to, van Persie’s volley, with Carragher again trailing in his wake, to finish things off.
A harsh lesson but one we have sat through before. Arsenal on the day were no better than, to name a but a few, Swansea, Norwich, Stoke and Blackburn the difference was one player who made the most of the few opportunities he was presented with, not for the first time we only have ourselves to blame?
Liverpool: Reina, Jose Enrique, Carragher, Kelly, Skrtel, Henderson, Downing (Bellamy 88), Spearing (Carroll 90 ), Adam, Suarez, Kuyt Substitutes: Doni, Coates, Flanagan, Maxi, Shelvey, Carroll, Bellamy
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Gibbs, Rosicky, Arteta (Diaby 53), Walcott, Song, Benayoun (Gervinho 74 ), Van Persie Substitutes: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Miquel, Diaby (Oxlade-Chamberlain 80 ), Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Chamakh