Arsenal 2 - 2 Liverpool
Just hours away from the close of the winter transfer window, Arsenal welcomed Liverpool to the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were aiming to revive their ailing season, whilst The Reds were looking to grab all three points, putting them just a point behind Arsenal in the table.
The first half was dominated by Liverpool in its entirety. Arsenal looked nervous and showed no composure when pressured in their own half, and after just five minutes, Liverpool got their inevitable goal.
Sagna slipped in a dangerous area, allowing a powerful cross to be swung in. It was completely missed by Vermaelen, and the ball fell to Sturridge just yards from goal. His shot was pushed out by Szczesney, it ricocheted off Aaron Ramsey, and into the path of Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan side-footed the ball into the far corner, leaving Arsenal a goal down & rattled in the opening minutes. A familiar feeling.[quote_right]”The Uruguayan side-footed the ball into the far corner, leaving Arsenal a goal down & rattled in the opening minutes. A familiar feeling.”[/quote_right]
As Liverpool continued to press, Arsenal produced a catalogue of defensive errors. Crosses were missed by several players, Mertesacker passed the ball to Suarez, and Szczesney tried to Cruyff Turn Sturridge in front of his goal, only just managing to scramble it away at the last second. The Gunners were looking frighteningly vulnerable.
Half-chances fell to Theo Walcott & Thomas Vermaelen in the Liverpool box, but each attack was a fruitless, futile attempt to undo a well organised Liverpool defence, anchored by Jamie Carragher.
The second half made slightly better viewing for Arsenal fans. The Gunners were two goals down, and the midfield trio of Cazorla, Wilshere & Ramsey were looking both tired and dull. Gerrard & Lucas were dominating the centre for large patches of the game, and the Arsenal front three were suffering as a result.
In the sixtieth minute, Jordan Henderson’s excellent burst of pace and power pushed him past Mertesacker, Santos and Aaron Ramsey all in quick succession. As Szczesney raced out, the ball rattled between the mess of players, allowing Henderson a free shot at goal. Liverpool were now two goals to the good, and Arsenal were looking toothless.
However, in the sixty-fifth minute, Jack Wilshere crossed in a accurate free kick, allowing Olivier Giroud to head the ball past Reina to bring Arsenal back into the game. It was a good, simple cross and a good, simple header, a type of goal rarely scored by Arsenal.
Just two minutes later, Cazorla passed to Giroud in the box, who touched the ball into Theo Walcott’s path, at a difficult angle. The Englishman unleashed a power-house shot into the far corner, dragging Arsenal level. It was a stunning goal, but the game still needed to be won.
Having conceded two goal in two minutes, Liverpool were well and truly shaken. Arsenal’s momentum was growing, and creativity in the final third was on the increase. Giroud was leading the line superbly, as Walcott & Podolski threatened.[quote_left]”The final whistle blew, and Arsenal were unable to muster up a winning goal. It was a typical Arsenal defeat. A poor first half undoes an excellent second one.”[/quote_left]
Despite Arsenal’s class up front, the midfield was still proving to be a poor foundation to build attacks upon. Aaron Ramsey in particular was misplacing passes and putting in a poor defence performance to boot. Despite Abou Diaby’s presence on the bench, Wenger decided to stick with the soft Welshman.
As the clock ticked, Arsenal were getting closer and closer. Olivier Giroud had tarnished his performance with a silly dive, and later on missed a chance in front of goal, as the cross from Podolski took a deflection.
Andre Santos, who had replaced the injured Kieran Gibbs, decided that tin the dying moments of the game, he would pass the ball to Steven Gerrard in the centre circle. His woeful pass paired with his school-boy positioning gifted Liverpool a golden opportunity to score. Luckily for Santos, the chance was quelled.
The final whistle blew, and Arsenal were unable to muster up a winning goal. It was a typical Arsenal defeat. A poor first half undoes an excellent second one.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
A game to forget for Szczesney. Poor distribution, dangerous turns in the box and a failed attempt to clear a cross. Far too eager to rush out of goal.
An unlucky, nervous slip from Sagna allowed Liverpool’s first goal to be crafted. He did his best to help Walcott, but his crossing was woeful and his defending was patchy. Seems to be in the worst form of his life.
Another defender out of form. Per’s lack of pace was exposed on a number of occasions, and he was beaten far too easily for Henderson’s goal. Won the odd aerial battle, but needs to improve.
Completely missed the ball in the build up to Suarez’ goal, and his performance did not improve thereafter. Had a great chance to score in the first half, but hesitated.
Only managed half an hour due to what looks to be a Hamstring injury. As usual, Gibbs attacked the Liverpool defence well, and was solid defensively. Replaced by Santos.
Having recently admitted that his new deeper role suited him, Aaron put in yet another poor performance. His positioning was often misjudged, and a number of Liverpool attacks passed him by. It’s far too easy to get round Aaron Ramsey in a one on one situation. A joke of a through ball to Walcott in the final seconds epitomised his night.
Jack never fails to work his socks off, no matter how dire the situation. His cross for Giroud’s goal was good, and he did his best against a solid Liverpool midfield.
In the first half, Santi misplaced several passes, and yet again looked pacified by big, strong opposition. His second half was better, but he is still lacking the creativity we saw from him at the beginning of the season.
Worked hard all game, unleashing a few long-range efforts at goal, and crossing well for Giroud. Podolski also realised that he was needed to defend more frequently, especially as Santos was introduced. At least one of our Germans are in good form.
Theo was lively from beginning to end, making runs in behind the Liverpool defences. His goal was a real stunner, and he even got back to defend on several occasions. Worth every penny.
MOTM. Despite diving, Giroud put in yet another excellent performance. He scored his fifth goal in a week, and got the assist for Walcott’s finish. He won various aerial battles against a good Liverpool defence, and brought others into the game offensively. Lets hope he keeps it up.
Eighty-five minutes into the tie, Santos had played a steady, simple game, alleviating the doubts over his ability. However, with just minutes to go, Santos showed his true colours by lazily passing to Gerrard, and then positioning himself almost as a defensive midfielder, as an attack sped down the wing he was supposed to be defending. Lets just hope Gibbs is okay.
[title]A Team Of Two Halves[/title]
As we enter the final third of the season, Arsenal sit in sixth spot, four points behind Tottenham in fourth position. The Gunners are aiming for a Champions League slot at the very least, but going two goals down at home is not the way to get there. Once again, Arsenal’s poor first half display cancels out a good second one. Being a team of two halves is a great way to win, but also a great way to lose.
Mikel Arteta’s return will be a welcome one, as his replacement Aaron Ramsey continues to impress absolutely nobody. The transfer deadline looms, and the next frew hours will be interesting. Next up, Arsenal welcome Stoke City to the Emirates Stadium. Oh dear.
What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Liverpool match? Share your views in the comments section below.