93 Comments

Liverpool And Things !

An early Xmas gift from @anicoll5

 

Good morning from a grey and windy Norfolk on match day.

Let me open with a quote from the genuinely immortal Mr Shankly in response to a question from a journalist concerning the ‘pressure’ of his Liverpool side topping the First Division at the time.

“Pressure is working down the pit. Pressure is having no work at all. Pressure is trying to escape relegation on 50 shillings a week. Pressure is not the European Cup or the Championship or the Cup Final. That’s the reward.”

Ah yes Bill, and as you had as a teenager worked down the pit, then been on the dole in the early 30’s when your pit shut down you understood this. Drop in serving in the RAF, defeating Naziism, and helping AFC win the League Cup south during those war years and I guess you had the gravitas to opine.  You understood the glaring but eternal truth that football is there to be enjoyed and success revelled in, not shied away from or complained about or feared.

It is a quote that should be marked in every match programme, learned by heart by every football fan before they are issued with access to the ground or social media, chanted rhythmically by Arsenal supporters seeking Buddhist enlightenment, even bannerized (new word alarm bleeps ! ).

The awakening would not be  intellectual, but a change in how we, as fans,  experience and perceive. But no, you’re right,  perhaps not bannerized.

The ‘cherrypickers’ reference btw – Bill’s Ayrshire village team of Glenbuck when he was a boy.

And so on to the game. Plenty of coverage in the media of which I am sure you are all well aware. There seems to be a lot of ‘fence-sitting’ on the outcome. The Scousers first home game since their disaster against Basle, but two good football performances from them since, despite the score line at Trafford Park.

For us the nasty but receding recollection of the equivalent contest last season(shudders) but scoring goals smoothly and good players all over the park. A game in which we have a good record of wins and draws over the last decade, and the ground at which the 49 Invincibles game got underway. Would such a happy glacier begin this afternoon ?

Looking at the pictures of the Ox in training yesterday and apparently actively involved suggests Wenger’s cautious optimism concerning the young man’s groin was well founded. I shall revisit that comment on Ox’s fitness about 4.30 this afternoon however. Indeed if by 4.30 we are still 0-0 or better I shall have a strong fancy of us taking an important step this afternoon.

I shall not detain you longer this Sunday morn as you have presents to buy, gifts to wrap and, perhaps, some chanting to get on with.

 

 

 

 

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93 comments on “Liverpool And Things !

  1. Eddy,
    On current form, Ramsey, Cazorla and Theo (no form atm haha!) would be taking corners for me if on the pitch. Ramsey only because of that silly outside of the foot pass or FK he hit last week haha!
    For FKs let Alexis and any others have their way, those have been decent.

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  2. I notice many of the moaners who have been complaining that we are far too adventurous when leading a game late on a la Anderlecht and Swansea, are now complaining that Wenger brought on defensive subs today, wha wha wha we should have brought on Theo, or Podolski wha wha wha, I know more than Wenger(only they don’t call him Wenger, that would be respectful)

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  3. Eddy I’m always wary of stills or replays from just one angle as they can be deceptive. The BFG looked annoyed after thy goal went in, there was never any doubt that the goal was annoying! (IBSF)

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  4. Slight tangent here:

    One thing to be considered with Kozza’s situation, if you’re looking for someone to cover for him, possibly for long spells now going forwards for the rest of his career, then they’re going to have to be quite good! I.e.: at the level of Tommy before his big ankle knack or with the incredible potential we saw when Koscielny arrived. And we can see with the coveting of Vermaelan by Utd and Barcelona even though he’s not had a good run of fitness in years, that is a strong indication that CBs that good don’t grow on trees. Anyway. Just some thoughts here to help get you all through the exciting build up to te next transfer window.

    I watched today’s game with a mixed group of fans and for my sins I had a good time.

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  5. yes fins there is a real lack of quality CB’s around, and if said CB is only going to be cover, it is much harder to convince them to come, with so many clubs in need of first choice CB’s.
    For me Winston Reid would be a good choice, but I can not think of a good reason why he would leave West Ham in January, there is no way any club would in January offer him the sort of deal he can get next summer, and add in the fee WHU would want.
    So it cuts down the amount of choices we have a chance of getting in January, it sort of has to be buy a player from a club that needs the money, or who has a player who really wants out and they are tired of, and as we know clubs don’t get tired of quality players very easily, no matter what sort of knob they may be.

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  6. I see that clown Claude from ArsenalFanTV has canceled his Christmas cos we failed to win today. He is not an attention seeking twat at all, don’t know why anyone would think that

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  7. Interesting comments on the deficiencies of Per

    The one bloke who has been the ever present this season and who has on more than one occasion been the key to holding on to a lead or a point.

    Indeed I would go.so far as to say that without our bfg at the centre of our defence both this season and last we might well be up shite creek sans paddle

    Winston Reid though ?

    Obviously I have not seen much of Reid – when the hammers are the box it seems to be Tomkins and some big ugly ginger bloke as centre backs – what I have seen he looks a decent championship player

    Who knows though – he may prove me wrong next week

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  8. Rogers accusing Alexis of diving for the free kick that led to the first goal.
    No, he was caught by Gerard.
    This will be the start of ‘British’ managers targeting him.

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  9. We have QRR next up at the Emirates. Without risking the wrath of the gods, that is winnable, if we play like we did against Newcastle. We should see some rotation, if there are fit replacements -Podloski etc.
    Then at West Ham, assuming without them playing Jenkinson, they will bombard us in the air so we will really need Koscielney back.
    Southampton’s fixtures are tough for them, their bubble may be truly burst by the time we play them on the 1st.

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  10. I didn’t mention that Szcz had a really good game too.

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  11. Thats was really awful. I’m at a loss to explain it.

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  12. Koscielny, Ramsey, Arteta, Ozil and Walcott all missing away at Anfield, that is half our best 11
    but that don’t excuse how poorly so many of the team played, we coughed up the ball so easily and so often it was unreal, Ox and Alexis were awful, and Per by the looks of it chickened out on the late goal.

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  13. there is a real lack of pace in too many of our defensive players, Per, Chambers and Flamini, it means a team like LFC that has lots of pace was always going to cause us problems, especially when the ball was not sticking with Giroud, Alexis and Welbeck, not to mention OX whose passing was the worst I’ve ever seen it.

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  14. The Ox wasn’t fit, George and Liverpool had 4 men in midfield vs Arsenal’s 3.
    Alexis and Welbeck looked jaded too.

    I won’t mention Per.

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  15. I would certainly have settled for a point before the game and I wouldn’t claim we actually deserved to win but the manner of losing the three is a gut wrencher. They were all over the place at that corner; it seemed no one had a clue. Not the first time either. You’d think they’d just slot into their positions without having to think about it. Andy Carroll will be dying to get at us.
    AOC didn’t look 100% to me. Lacked his recent pace and confidence. And he asked to come off so that could be another 3-weeker.
    But we’re still in there – gap to third nothing insurmountable.
    Arsène has to rotate for QPR – could do with a few recoveries from injuries.

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  16. just wondering who most people would rotate in and out of the team for QPR game. Should Welbeck and Alexis be rested, if Ox is fit, rest or play. Would anyone play Chambers at DM, or what about Coquelin at DM. Monreal at CB so Per can go RCB. Thoughts

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  17. Per has played constantly for what, over a year? Summer 2013 is the last time he has had an extended amount of rest if Im not mistaken. Injury or exhaustion is inevitable, weve been lucky that hes been fit all this time.

    It was pretty obvious that Ox was struggling with an injury, that meant Cazorla had to carry a extremely heavy burden as the only midfielder with the kind of ball retention required for our passing game. Santi is a wonderful player in his best form since his debut season but cant do it on his own(very nearly did though).

    Whats that, Girouds third goal vs a “top team” this season? Or does it only matter in big games? Or against quality defences? I never know when people move the goalposts all the time. Luckily Oli doesnt seem fazed by it and continues to score important goals, even when not at his best.

    Even with Giroud subbed off and Koscielny injured the team had enough aerial presence to deal with headers, the problem was the massive amount of absentees in midfield which lead to massive amounts of pressure on the defence and lack of service to the forwards. Hopefully some of them will return soon and we will be able to make the rest of the season more positive.

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  18. I like how the moaners are complaining about Giroud being taken off ignoring the fact that most of them constantly downgrade his ability, and of course they ignore Wenger saying that Giroud was very sick last night.

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  19. Sometimes I wonder why players duck out like that. Do they worry about deflecting it away from the keeper? We’ve all seen Per make brave blocks before but that header didn’t have enough pace on it to make it scary.

    Why was the Liverpool medical team allowed to treat Skrtel on the field for that long? It seems like unless there is a really bad injury the players are always made to leave the field to receive treatment.

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  20. Before the game there was much made of last year’s defeat, and also predictable comments about Arsenal being soft and lacking the physical and mental toughness to cope against the big boys. We may have looked off the pace for most of the game, but there was a basic resilience about us that seemed to answer that narrative. Many of our players performed below their best and it was a disappointing end result after we looked likely to gain an improbable win, but the fact remains that we went to Anfield and came away with a point. That we did so with Ozil, Koscielny, Ramsey, Arteta and Wilshere unavailable for selection, all of whom would likely have been heavily involved in such a match, is actually a pretty good effort when all things are considered. Moaners will moan, and haters will hate: you expect that after below par efforts, and all clubs have those kind of fans, but I am sure there will be better days ahead.

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  21. Nice bit of perspective at 6 o’clock in the morning, fh. Insomnia?
    Also enjoyed notna’s post at 12.13.
    Wouldn’t it be great to have a more or less full squad to choose from without there constantly being half a dozen crocked?
    Have a great Xmas all. Bloody pissing down for 3 days now here in Denmark and looks like continuing. On the bright side, if it was colder, I’d be shovelling metres of snow just to get the car out of the drive.

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  22. These days Arsenal are enough to give anyone sleepless nights, Dkg!

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  23. I might rest Welbeck and Sanchez eddy and bring in Joel and Poldi – I am sure the German is dying for a game and after QPR we have his favourite fixture against the Ammers

    I am afraid we are so short in midfield it will be the same starting line up as yesterday – as DC pointed out above though the OX looked sore going off at the end of the game (again) so fingers crossed he is fit for Friday

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  24. I see even in this bastion of Positivity the name of Abou Diaby is rarely heard as we inspect the bare bones of our midfield options

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  25. Abou Diaby – a name to conjure with. He’s not on the latest team news list on AFC as injured and he wasn’t on the bench yesterday. Rabbit, hat, anyone?

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  26. Coquelin wasn’t shirking tackles when he came on yesterday. If Arteta still isn’t fit, maybe he should get a start instead of Flamini who could be getting near his yellow card limit. Yesterday’s was a travesty but then he could/would have had one later.
    As for Brenda complaining about opposition players diving, well, you’ve gotta larf ain’t you?

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  27. Good question Andrew,
    Where has Diaby gone?

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  28. I wrote a blog on the game last night and having read it this morning, its total bollocks. I might have another go.

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  29. With a three man midfield composed of two midfielders I wasn’t expecting the best performance before KO, for myself, so was impressed by the resolution, the grit, the gumption, shown in that first half. And Chambo did manage to work himself into play after the opening spell of the game. Definitely one who needs to be rested for the next game.
    After we have witnessed so much unreasonable scapegoating and AAAA agenda driven shite from transparent shitheads over so long around the club most infamously after the second 5pur2s game then the groaning after a draw is not a surprise.

    Sometimes a team won’t play well and still get a draw, victory or defeat. But it seems that for the proper fans that are against Modern Football, this age old truth of the game has been thrown out the window with the bath water (best not to think of what they might’ve done with the baby), because they are self-declared experts in PR innit.

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  30. Perhaps it’s the sunshine here in provence and big doses of vitamin D that influences my positive mood. I think Liverpool were lucky to get a point from yesterdays game. Lucky that Skrtel was injured and lucky that the injury added 6 minutes to the game. Lucky that Skrtel then got the equaliser in the 6th minute of injury time and lucky that Skrtel was able to use the bandages wrapped around his bonce to head a powerful shot at goal.

    Lucky bastards…. we deserved to win

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  31. I have a sense Abou’s footballing career is drawing peacefully to a close.

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  32. I think we’ve all felt and said that here at some point after his last big injury.

    I certainly never expected him to make it back on to the pitch so it was nice to once again see why he’s made the effort to keep going when he came back into a game cold, not properly fit, and for fourty-five minutes outshone in CM Schneidy, Wanyama and Davis. But yeah, to be fair his physios have probably tried to talk him out of the carrying on, showing him interviews with Batti-goal and the like (“will somebody please cut my legs off?”), but Diaby, to be fair to him, he has shown some gr*t. A shame the Groaners don’t exhibit the same Grittish values.

    When the gaffer said the other month that he was “not ready” I think that was a strong indication that Diaby was not at the heart of or even a long term part of any plan, that any appearances were a bonus for the player. But of course the dysphoric enthusiasts will completely ignore that message and use the player’s name in their ritualistic self-flagellatistic sado-masochitsic post match celebrations.

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  33. Fins: I think you have hit the nail on the head and I’d never quite looked at it like that. It’s being so cheerful as keep em going.
    Poor old Diaby, and what a shame for all players who have careers cut short through injury.

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  34. I know this is hard to explain, but from a positive outlook arsenal’s results at away games have not been as disasterous as we think or certainly as the WOBS go on about.
    At no stage this season have we been at the receiving end of one of the hammering a we took at Liverpool, Chelsea or Everton. We have fallen behind in games but have always tried to get ourselves back into the games. Considering how raga eddies our back line and midfield cover has been it’s not been terrible.
    What has been galling to all supporters watching, is the fantastic opportunities to have garnered more points by now, which have slipped through the teams fingers so far.

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  35. I’ve found whilst skimming a much more eloquent description of the game and the first half then the poor effort I attempted above, this is very well written, I believe it’s by someone from Zimbabwe!

    “There are others who believe that Arsenal should have fought fire with fire. Surprisingly these people accused the team and manager for failing to adjust tactics against a rampant Liverpool and Chelsea last season resulting in heavy losses. You cannot have your cake and eat it so they say. The team adjusted accordingly and did well to contain Liverpool until the 44th minute. Watching that game live and for the second time it was apparent to me that if Arsenal had tried to put pressure on Liverpool once in possession and without possession, we would have conceded three or more goals in the 1st half. Liverpool was very mobile in the middle and their passes were very accurate. Taking numbers forward would have left our defence overly exposed. This would have spelt disaster considering that Debuchy was not in his favoured position, Per was playing left side CB, while Chambers does not have the pace of a right back.”

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  36. I’m going to copy and paste the full article as it’s on an ad heavy site that appears to groan an awful lot, im sure no one will mind, hopefully not George. I thought this was a v.good review of the Football. Like many I presume the author has had enough of the constant bollocks (enough is enough) being pumped out by the self-declared experts in PR, and it seems to me that more and more fence sitters are finally standing up for their club, warts an’ all.

    Was this a reaction to the result or an agenda against Arsene and Arsenal? By Tinashe Shamuyashe, Zimbabwean Arsenal Fan.

    Following Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool I feared that the result had triggered another wave of negativity against the club and manager. I only had to visit Justarsenal and watch the PL Fanzone program to confirm my fears. What was striking about the crescendo of criticism was its contradictory nature, from fans and so called analysts. Taken separately it would seem the team did nothing right and they lost by a 10 goal margin. However when one places the criticisms close to one another contradictions become so glaring that one wonders whether the makers of the comments ever use their grey matter or whether they are on a mission which is “bash the club and Wenger out”.

    As a trained lawyer I will first lay out undisputed facts before making my opinion. It is common knowlege that Liverpool has been poor all season, struggling in the Capital One cup but scraping through nonetheless. Losing 3-0 and 3-1 against Manchester clubs, losing 1-2 at home to Chelsea, and so on. Be that as it may there is no denying that Liverpool has very good players in the mould of Sterling, Coutinho, and Lallana on their day. They have average talent in the form of Gerrard (because of age), Henderson, and Lucas in the midfield. These players compensate for lack of flair with hard work. Added to that list is Markovic who blows hot and cold in a single match. Their back three can be regarded as average to below average; however, we need not forget that Sakho was getting first team action ahead of Laurent Koscielny in the French team.

    Added to that was the fact that they were playing at home with a home crowd which reminds anyone of games in Germany and Turkey. A vociferous crowd that counts as 12th man. At the start of every game an Anfield anthem is sang to get the crowd and players fired up, I am not sure whether that is the case at many other clubs stadia. As an aside I think Arsenal fans must learn something from Liverpool supporters especially at home. The Liverpool players had a psychological advantage over our players because of the magnitude of their win last season. Added to that the media were making reference to that result all week long, omitting the fact that we beat Liverpool 2-1 the following week on our way to the FA cup glory.

    From the Arsenal side, we had a team that has had a bumpy ride to the season. We had a right back playing his second game at centre back, a predominantly wing player helping with defensive duties in the midfield. We had an on fire Cazorla and a highly effective front three of Alexis, Danny, and Olivier. We also had a team that was going to be reminded throughout the match of the 5-1 loss by the home fans.

    With those facts in mind Liverpool were going to start more aggressively while Arsenal were to be more conservative. This is what happened from the first minute till halftime. Liverpool’s passing in the middle of the pack was swift and accurate and there was good link up play with their front three. They closed Arsenal quickly once they lost the ball, thus Arsenal did not have enough time on the ball. The strategy for Arsenal was therefore to soak up pressure as long as they could. Every time Arsenal won possession very few players came out of the defensive shape to try to start an attack of their own. Was this a wrong strategy? I do not think so, in the circumstances of last season and the energy shown by Liverpool in the early minutes, it was the right strategy in my view. Last season 2 goals came from Arsenal trying to create something going forward against a highly charged team. This led to loss of possession and counter attack at lightening pace by Liverpool.

    This time the team maintained their defensive shape, such that despite Liverpool’s dominance and intricate passing in the middle of the pack, they offered virtually nothing in the final third. Until the 44th minute the majority of their attempts at goal were fortuitous and can never be regarded as real goal scoring chances. At the same time it cannot be said Liverpool was wasteful in front of goal. So if Arsenal were so awful in defence with Liverpool superb in attack, how come Szczesny, just like Jones, was a spectator for the greater part of the first half? Either Liverpool was wasteful in the final third or the claim that Arsenal was poor defensively is completely wrong. After watching the game for the second time my view is that Arsenal defended well against a rampant Liverpool.

    There are others who believe that Arsenal should have fought fire with fire. Surprisingly these people accused the team and manager for failing to adjust tactics against a rampant Liverpool and Chelsea last season resulting in heavy losses. You cannot have your cake and eat it so they say. The team adjusted accordingly and did well to contain Liverpool until the 44th minute. Watching that game live and for the second time it was apparent to me that if Arsenal had tried to put pressure on Liverpool once in possession and without possession, we would have conceded three or more goals in the 1st half. Liverpool was very mobile in the middle and their passes were very accurate. Taking numbers forward would have left our defence overly exposed. This would have spelt disaster considering that Debuchy was not in his favoured position, Per was playing left side CB, while Chambers does not have the pace of a right back.

    At this stage let me address a complaint raised as to why Debuchy played CB while Chambers played wide. The answer lies in an article published here about aggressive and sweeping CBs. Chambers like Per does not have the pace of an aggressive CB who must be paired with a sweeper CB (Per). In addition Liverpool were playing their pacey Sterling as centre forward, therefore there was need for a fast CB to partner Per. Debuchy was the right player considering that Nacho was coming from injury and is not as pacey as Sterling anyway. That partnership kept Sterling in shape, and the only time he threatened in the first half was when he went to fetch the ball up field and Per went with him. As expected he beat Per on pace but he had no end product because of the numbers we had in defence.

    Liverpool’s goal came when Arsenal wanted to retain possession under pressure, which was an antithesis of what they had done in the first 43 minutes. Liverpool started an attack from a free kick awarded on their right side of attack. Arsenal as before defended well leading to a throw in for Liverpool, and a clearance that fell on Giroud who was not under pressure. Instead of kicking the ball out for a throw in or just kicking it up field, he decided to lay the ball back to Gibbs who was surrounded by three Liverpool players. Gibbs was never favourite to win the ball, and that put the team under extreme pressure. Without the right defensive shape and numbers at the back Coutinho was able to capitalize. Had Arsenal played defensive/negative football on that occasion that goal would not have been conceded, because it would have been a throw in or ball pushed into Liverpool half for them to start another wave of attack.

    My analysis therefore is that while Liverpool moved the ball very well in the first half, won back possession extremely well, and had 80% possession, our team defended well, as such Szczesny had little to do except to pick the ball from the net in the 44th minute. While Arsenal did nothing going forward in the first half, they made the most of the sole chance that came their way. The team got a set piece which they put to good use, with Flamini setting up Debuchy. It is therefore utterly disrespectful to claim that Arsenal were lucky to go to half time level. The team defended well, limiting Liverpool chances, and made the most of the chance that came their way going forward. How many times has Mourinho been applauded for playing this type of football and getting results? Why should the same not go to Arsenal?

    Football games are decided by goals and if a team manages to limit the opposition’s clear chances why should that be labelled as dreadful/awful performance etc. How many times did Arsenal dominate possession like Liverpool did without an end product? The Manchester games at the Emirates come to mind this season. What has been our reaction to such performances? Wenger has no plan B, he just plays pass, pass without end product. Today the shoe was on another foot, it was us under pressure from a determined home side. We had to give an appropriate response defensively, and that we did until Giroud decided the best form of defence was to be positive under pressure. The team paid for that change in attitude.

    Second half was much better in terms of our midfield play as Liverpool had dropped a bit. Every time we won possession we tried to exploit their defensive frailties, but we were not naive to commit bodies forward. Our defensive work was made difficult because by the 50th minute Flamini and Debuchy had yellow cards. It would have been suicidal to expose them to one on one situations; therefore our midfield had to put an extra shift to shield our back four. Liverpool were restricted to attempts outside the box, which attempts were not life threatening.

    While Liverpool was showing signs of disorganization, their determination never faded away. Arsenal was gifted possession in its own half by legendary Gerrard. Gibbs did well to utilize space in front of him before making a very good long range pass that found Giroud whose first touch pass to Carzola was top class. Thinking Carzola would pass across goal the Liverpool defence rushed to close the space in front of their goalkeeper leaving Giroud unmarked. Gibbs cut back the ball to Giroud whose first touch finish was superb. So called pundits and those that are sworn never to give credit to the team have been attributing the goal to poor defending by Liverpool. What they fail to understand is that poor defending and good attack are two sides of the same coin. You concede because you are relatively poor at defending while the opposition is relatively good in utilizing its chances. You can never talk in absolute terms in a competition. Arsenal thus utilized their chance, hence they deserved the goal. That Liverpool was relatively poor at defending is none of Arsenal’s business.

    After the goal Liverpool went for broke withdrawing a defender for a striker. Sterling went to the flank where he caused lots of problems but Arsenal defended for dear life not allowing Liverpool to go behind our defenders. Liverpool threw on yet another striker to add pressure up front. It was logical that Arsenal had to bring in a defensive player in the mould of Francis Coquelin. There are some who have criticized the manager for substituting Giroud arguing that he offers a lot on defending set pieces, but football is not all about defending set pieces but also defending in field, winning balls, and putting opposition under pressure in possession. It also includes not being reckless with the ball in dangerous areas as Giroud did in the first half. Of the three attacking players, Giroud is the one with less work rate without the ball. It was for this reason that some of you labelled him donkey, etc. So that substitution could not be faulted because we needed numbers in defence. When the second substitution came in for us it was Nacho coming in for Alexis. Alexis’ ball retention was not good today. He was losing dribbles for fun. It was thus necessary to bring in a defence minded person in the form of Nacho for Alexis.

    Despite their dominance around the box Liverpool were restricted to long range efforts the most dangerous of which was a Gerrard strike, which Szczesny did well to stop. The Borini header was never going to trouble the keeper, while Lucas was not making use of Arsenal’s half clearances. The major criticism that could be levelled at Arsenal at that stage of the game was the mindset of players. At the 90th minute mark it became apparent that they wanted to protect the lead. Maybe they did not realize that it was 9 minutes of added time due to Skrtel’s injury. Even when Liverpool was reduced to 10 men in the 5th minute of injury time it was apparent that the players’ mental state was never going to shift because of numerical advantage. Liverpool continued to pile up pressure winning corner after corner.

    In the 7th minute of injury time Liverpool scored. Many have criticised zonal marking because of the conceded goal, however they forget the corners that were well defended with that system. Zonal or man marking is a matter of choice as each system has its own weaknesses. Teams that do men marking on corners and other set pieces also concede goals. So should they blame men marking? On this occasion one can argue that the zonal setting was not perfect. Jermaine Jenas who was one of the analysts on match day appeared to have given a correct analysis. He stated that the zonal setting was wrong for an out swinger corner. Arsenal players needed to move a bit out of their goal because the ball was going to flying away from goal. For me this analysis was spot on, Per did not organize his zone well on that occasion, unless the players were now thinking about the final whistle. That was the blemish I can put on the team defensively, because the corner was a poor one and could have been easily defended if the players had occupied the correct zones as observed by Jenas.

    On the overall view, Liverpool put an exceptional attacking performance while Arsenal did well to cope with the offensive play of Liverpool. As I was writing this article I was watching the Sky Sports panel of Redknapp, Bellamy, and two other fellows, agreeing that this was Liverpool’s best performance this season. They even tipped Liverpool to be on fire going forward. Sky also showed Sterling statistics indicating that he only had three touches in Arsenal box and one shot on target the whole game. He however made three key passes after he was pushed to the wing. This tells you how the team performed defensively for the greater part of the game. They denied Liverpool opportunities to go behind the defence throughout the match.

    We cannot spend the whole day being negative about how we defended the last corner that gave the equalizer as if the team did nothing defensively in the 99 minutes of play. Should Chelsea be lamenting the way they defended the Man U free kick in the last minute, which gave the latter an equalizer? At the end of the day that is how matches pan out. You attack brilliantly and tear apart the opposition’s defence or the opposition defends well leaving you with every other statistics in your favour except the scoreline. The latter is what happened today.

    Had it not been for Giroud’s recklessness in possession in the 44th minute the scoreline would have been 0-0 or 0-1 at halftime depending on whether you think Gerrard would have fouled Alexis had they not scored. From what I saw Liverpool always dropped a bit after scoring and this is why Alexis was able to move forward with the ball. For me the scoreline would have been 0-0. Our mindset should have quickly changed after the Liverpool red card but I have seen 10 men pressurizing opponents especially when they are at home. Our defending of the last corner could have been better yes but that is football. Show me a team that has not conceded on set pieces in circumstances in which commentators accuse the defence of being poor. In the final analysis Arsenal did well defensively today while Liverpool’s energy made it difficult for the team to dominate possession as has been the norm in the past. But to deride the team in the manner in which fans here and pundits did at PL fanzone was despicable to say the least. The team deserved its two goals while it restricted Liverpool opportunities despite their dominance.

    So if the team did well to restrict Liverpool chances why are we having this negativity? Being a person living in a country which is very polarized politically, I can proffer an explanation. In my country there are people who are opposed to the current government and another group that is pro government. In the eyes of one group the other group can do no good. A commuter omnibus crashes into a train because it did not stop at a rail level crossing; the group opposed to the government blames government, because the booms that close when a train is passing were not working. But the rule of the road requires the commuter omnibus driver to stop at a rail level crossing, which he did not do. The opposition’s agenda is clear, whatever the facts say blame the government.

    This is the dilemma which Arsenal fans here find themselves in. They are obsessed with Wenger out, board out, and majority shareholder out mentality such that they do not miss the slightest of opportunities to demonize the manager, club and the majority shareholder. That is why most of the criticisms levelled against the team following the Liverpool game were contradictory. For them the objective is to find something to blame the manager for.
    The following are the contradictions in the criticisms:

    (1) The team should not have set back in the face of Liverpool marauding attacks. But when they did that Liverpool did not have clear cut goal scoring opportunities, when Olivier decided to retain possession by passing to a heavily marked Gibbs possession was lost resulting in a Liverpool goal.
    (2) Team did not have counter tactics to deal with Liverpool offensive play. But despite Liverpool dominance the team maintained shape defensively resulting in Liverpool having few chances, is that not a sufficient counter strategy?
    (3) Wenger did not have tactics to deal with Lallana, Coutinho, and Sterling. Why is it that Coutinho had to score because of Giroud’s reckless play rather than Liverpool’s superb build up play with the dominance they had?
    (4) Wenger made wrong subs in removing Giroud for Francis. So we should have kept an offence player when we needed to defend our lead? Between Olivier, and Danny and Alexis who puts least shift defensively? The same story goes for the replacement of Alexis with Nacho. The club needed to defend what it had. The offensive players had not offered much going forward anyway.
    (5) Wenger should have put Walcott in. Really? What is Walcott’s defensive record apart from his pace going forward? Are you not the same people who have been complaining that Campbell was not getting game time? Why complain when he has been given one?
    (6) Flamini should have been subbed. Really? The team is defending for dear life and you want your defensive players subbed.
    (7) Szczesny was rash to come out when the ball was lobbed behind the defenders. Are you serious? If he had stayed back Sterling would have controlled the ball with no pressure and scored. As it turned out Sterling had to scoop away the ball from Szczesny with his hand because of pressure.

    I can go on and on about the contradictions in the criticisms. This clearly shows that it’s more about the agenda than team performance which brings all these reactions. Unfortunately organizations are not run on the basis of irrational reactions by stakeholders but facts. As long as you continue to shun facts for these self serving agendas you will forever remain hurt by decisions that are made by the club. You can go on social media to denigrate the club, and become resident callers and writers to PL fanzone as one Mcbernard (or something like that) from South Africa has been ranting on today’s program, claiming that if he sits on the Arsenal bench the team will do wonders, but that will not change anything. At the end of the day you will become a perennial moaner not only in matters football but in other aspects of your life. Here in Zimbabwe we say an empty vessel makes the most noise so once I start seeing and hearing all those hate filled rants I make my conclusion.

    Digest that.

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  37. Title was:

    “Detailed game review shows Arsenal criticism as crazy!!”

    Fair comment!

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  38. One thing the author didn’t comment upon that although cautious in that first half AFC were also trying to press with mixed results, higher up the pitch then Liverpool were. That was an interesting contrast, and there was a subtle adjustment made at HT referred to by the manager which slightly changed Arsenal’s shape, though not having watched the game again I have no idea what that might’ve been.

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  39. Liverpool nicked a point at home, end of.

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  40. Bloody hell !

    Some good points there although one of the opening one’s I take issue with, to wit that Liverpool have been poor all season.

    Now it may only have been me and Brendan Rodgers who saw it that way but LFC opened up Manyoo time and time again at Trafford Park the previous weekend ad it was only some shocking finishing from young Mario and even younger Raheem (among others) that allowed the scoreline to flatter the home side who were nothing special, and cast the Scousers as clueless chumps. LFC made chance after chance in the box, De Gea man of match in a team whee hi side won 3-0!! how odd is that.

    In terms of chances created the game was not that different to the preceeding year where Suarez (spits) and Sturridge had torn the Mancs a new one. The huge difference was not the quality of the LFC midfield or control of the ball but finishing.

    Fast forward seven days to our visit to Anfield just tell me HOW MANY chances did Liverpool strikers have in our box ? Almost, though not quite, zero. They relied on long strikes and the bald head at the death of Skrtel.

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  41. That is great analysis of the match and the criticism. However we all have our theories on what would have been better. Putting Theo on was supposed to have the effect of reducing the corner count and reducing the risk of a mistake which in the end was the difference between a win and a draw, not a defeat as the doomers would have you believe.
    I have long thought that because we withdraw all eleven men at corners it invites the second ball after a clearance. This had led to many goals from secondary attacks straight after the initial corner, on this occasion it led to a number of corners, a build up of pressure and the higher risk of error. The substitutions were correct for the way we defend over the last few seasons and were not the reason for the result, that was just an error however I will always maintain its not a good way to defend corners even though lots of top clubs do it. Obviously I am a brilliant tactician and know more than all these top coaches and therein lies the reason for the criticism.

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  42. Fair point Anicoll, LFC did bang in a lot of long range shots that Wojciech Szczęsny comfortably dealt with – and one really world class save!
    Liverpool were the better team at Old Trafford, just like Arsenal were the better team than manyoo a few weeks beforehand. If the scousers get Sturridge back they will be a force to be reckoned with again, just like Arsenal will be with Theo, Ozil, Koscielny, Ramsey, Arteta & Wilshere available for selection again.

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