Our little break from the long mountainous climb to the Premier League summit didn’t last long. A quick kick about on the plateau which is the FA Cup third round with hard working but ultimately out classed, out passed, out manoeuvred and out scored Sunderland and we are back onto the steep slopes. We travel to Anfield to face a Liverpool side against whom, by my calculations, we are two points down. How so? Well I think we did enough to beat them at our place when they last visited and as such a home draw left us smarting. It would be rather nice to get those points back tonight and despite their struggles against Exeter I doubt it will be an easy task.
Liverpool at Anfield is never to be taken lightly whatever their recent form and like many teams they will raise their game when we are in town. There is much being made of the mutual respect between the managers and I’m quite happy about that. Far too much hot air is wasted attempting to raise up the mean minded, low brow abuse and petty school yard insults trotted out by certain coaches. Too much ink spilled trying to convince a gullible public that such pathetic barbs constitute ‘mind games’ or some sort of clever psychology. I’m much happier to hear that Herr Klopp’s opinion of Arsène just keeps going up and up. Much is also being made of the results between the two managers all of which have occurred in Champion’s League matches between Arsenal and Dortmund. I’m not entirely convinced that there is much relevance here as the German side were settled, familiar with their manager’s tactics and style of play and to a large part chosen for their ability to work well within his chosen structure.
Since arriving on Merseyside Jürgen Norbert has faced the usual challenges of jumping into a new set up with new playing staff and with the season already under way. He has also been beset with injury problems exacerbating his desire to get his team playing his preferred brand of heavy metal football. I certainly don’t think it’s fair to judge him until he’s had a lot more time to build his own squad and instil his methodology. Having said all that he was unbeaten in his first six games in charge and under his watchful eye Liverpool have beaten Chelsea and Man City and absolutely hammered Southampton. The Ethiad result was perhaps the most eye catching but in such a topsy turvy unpredictable season who can say? Losing to Watford, Crystal Palace and Newcastle while stuffing the filthy rich Oil City and beating high flying Leicester is kind of par for the course these days.
So as you’ve probably guessed I’m delivering my well worn ‘anything can happen’ sermon on this clear and crisp Wednesday morning.
Despite that horrible and quickly forgotten blemish down at St Mary’s we sit atop the current form table. Taken over the previous six outings there are five green squares all with a nice plump W inside them. Liverpool’s inconsistency is on the other hand more frenetic than ours and laid bare by the same table which shows them losing three, drawing one and winning the remaining two.
If I was a Liverpool fan, and I do know a couple, I’d be most concerned about the defence. King Kolo looked lost when we tore into them at The Emirates last season. Unable to cope with our pace and invention he was, if not actually a liability, then certainly bypassed with ease on more than one occasion. He nearly gifted us a goal in the fifth minute but in fairness responded quickly to clear the danger after his keeper parried Aaron Ramsey’s shot. I highlight Kolo as he is nearly a year older now and pulled up with what looked like cramp recently making him doubtful for this game. If he doesn’t start Liverpool’s new signing Steven Caulker could make his début.
I’d hope either an ageing or makeshift centre back pairing would provide a splendid playground for Theo to dance through and Mesut to weave his magic threads in and around but of course I am not manager of Arsenal and there is no guarantee Theo will even start. With Ox showing signs of getting over his injury lay off and Campbell little short of a revelation our patched up squad has actually played itself into the kind of form where Arsène has, if not selection headaches, then at least selection mild discomfort. Our skipper is back from the dead and back in the mix, Calum Chambers has looked a little raw but has acquitted himself very well in midfield and Mathieu Flamini, much to the chagrin of the transfer junkies and haters, hasn’t put a foot wrong.
Will Arteta and Flamini play at the base of the midfield à la the Santi / Coquelin axis and allow Aaron to reprise his more attacking role starting nominally on the wing but drifting all over the pitch and creating havoc in the opposition defence? If so who misses out? Or has Aaron now convinced Arsène of his credentials running from deep, or does the ‘Ox through the middle’ experiment continue? Isn’t it nice to have such conundrums? Is the plural of conundrum actually conundra? We live in an uncertain world and must learn to accept that there are some things we simply cannot know and much we cannot control.
Speaking of the Lazarus like return of our forgotten heroes, I turned to Arsenal.com in an idle moment yesterday to be greeted by the heart warming sight of a photograph of Tomáš Rosický. The diminutive maestro was in bib and gloves and darting between training mannequins in much the same way as he darts through Spurs defenders. It was a vision for me. There are plenty of arguments among Arsenal fans and one of the myths about this blog is that we discourage and actively stifle debate. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many is the time we like to argue over who is Arsenal’s best or most creative or most important player. Which was the best goal, who is better in any given position. For me the whole best player debate is a little disingenuous as we aren’t really saying player x is better than player y, we are actually saying player x is my favourite.
Doesn’t matter if Mesut can glide past opposition midfielders as if they’ve been turned to stone and pass better than Koscielny, because he can’t do what Kos can. Similarly stick Mesut in goal and Petr behind the centre forward and we’d be in trouble. So I prefer the debate over who are our favourite players at the club. For me right now it is Tomáš . Has been for years in fact. I love plenty of the others of course but our number seven makes me smile with his audacity, ebullience, enthusiasm, invention and his style. He is at the stage of his career where he has nothing to prove to anybody and has all the experience he needs to draw on for any given situation. I hope he will be back as soon as possible, it’s a shame he isn’t adding to the selection problems this evening, but as he enters the twilight of a cruelly foreshortened Arsenal career he can be absolutely vital to the latter half of our season.
Don’t expect me to be too rational about the club I support, don’t expect me to predict victory every week. Do expect me to turn a blind eye to the mistakes of my favourites and to glory in every little thing they do well. I want those two points back tonight but most of all I want to be around to enjoy a glorious swansong from our own little Mozart.
thats just shit
come on you Arsenal.
Now Jimmy Hill’s dead can we go back to 2 points for a win?
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Everything I hoped for – brilliant
a wasted opportunity to take control of the title race,
jesus we don’t half let in late goals at anfield.
Credit where it’;s due. Considering the Liverpool players are not as good as ours they never gave up and forced their way back. I was sure we had that game though. Thank goodness City dropped points at home.,
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Bugger! Amazing game though.
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What a game. Lucky Scousers.
All in all wonderful entertainment a game we were behind in twice, but still didn’t lose, both teams gave it a real good go, some goals out of the very top drawer.
Can’t argue with that.
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leicester beat spurs, AFC top on goal difference.
Monreal a fantastic player. Has he signed his extension?
Joel Campbell has more go in him after 70 minutes than Ox does after 7.
Please don’t say that was poor defending for their 3rd goal, eddy, or I’ll kill you.
Their second goal was a great shot but what about the two lucky ricochets off Joel just before it – poor defending, my arse.
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Get in the queue Dk !
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Eddy is generally positive. I forgive him his heat of the moment lapses.
God I’m a saint aren’t I?
A great performance and most of the other results were fine. Shame about not making it to the line but that’s football.
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I see Isacc Hayden is still at Hull. And Chuba Akpom still sitting on the bench, despite Bruce’s glowing words.
afcstuff @afcstuff 1m1 minute ago
Arsenal’s top scorers this season (all competitions):
Oh well, at least I survived, what would you lot do without me?
Joel Salamon @MessiSeconds 38m38 minutes ago
At 0.7, Olivier Giroud has scored more league non-penalty goals per 90 than Mueller, Ronaldo, Griezmann… and just below Messi (0.74).
Wenger: “We showed character. The frustration comes from at 3-2 we had 3 situations when we could have made it 4-2 but made bad decisions”
Orbinho @Orbinho 27m27 minutes ago
There have been more 90th minute goals in Liverpool v Arsenal games than any other fixture in Premier League history (16)
our next six games
Burnley (h) – FA Cup
That was like a Cup game for Liverpool – must have been energy-sapping in the extreme – and losing the lead at the death will be a real disappointment. A big test awaits at Stoke – can they lift themselves? Stoke have probably had an easier time tonight.
Thank goodness there’s a week’s break before Chelsea.
Jeezus. The moaning on twitter is so embarrassing. Can’t even appreciate a great game.
The lesson, shotta, is stay off Twitter – then you don’t have to see it.
Tonight doesn’t matter – we’re still going to win the Premiership this season.
Good game, good point . We march on
dkg – You can’t let the inmates completely overun the asylum. I just tweeted in reply to PG’s smackdown of those who moan incessantly about the equalizer:
“Does twitter get that Lpool was at home, 1 goal behind, had 45,000 fans urging them to go for the equalizer. #Embarassing.”
Wenger has confirmed that Elnenny has signed for Arsenal, and that he hopes he will have clearance to play v Stoke on Sunday.
Eduardo – Elneny signing good news. We need a controller behind Ramsey who is supposed to be part of the 2 in front of the midfield but we know he is usually ahead of the play. God we missed Santi Cazorla tonight especially after going ahead.
Wenger also said Alexis will have a fitness test on Saturday to decide if he will be in squad for Stoke game.
I thought Wenger erred tonight in bringing on Arteta, maybe Chambers or Gabriel would have been a better option, what with LFC pumping high ball up to Benteke and Caulker.
Hopefully the Elnenny inclusion and getting Alexis back will be give the side a new lease of energy, which is so badly needed, so many of the players look out on their feet with half an hour to go in a lot of recent matches.
We know Rosicky is very close to being back in the match day squad and his energy will be great to have.
Some are reporting that Coquelin is only 3 weeks away from a return, I don’t know if this is accurate, but it would be a great boost.
WENGER ON THE DRAW, GIROUD AND KLOPP
Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after his side drew 3-3 at Liverpool on Wednesday night.
on the performance…
I’m frustrated by the result but not by the performance even if we were a bit apprehensive. I feel in the first 20 minutes we were a bit on the back foot and we came back in a convincing way. 2-1 down we have shown character and scored after 2-2 and 3-2. Frustration comes from the fact that I think at 3-2, we had three situations where we should have made it 4-2 and we made a bad decision. That is the frustration tonight and the fact we conceded a goal in the last minute that can happen in England but it was a game played with two teams that gave absolutely everything and we have shown again great character tonight and come away with a point and if you look at the recent results it shows you that everywhere it is very even and very difficult for everybody.
on what the players have learnt…
They need to transform the frustration they have in the dressing room at the moment to even more motivation for the next game. There is a lot of positives in the game and there is more positives than negatives in the game. I think what happened tonight should strengthen their belief that they have a big part to play in this league.
He had more chances but it was a positive performance overall. It was not easy for him many times and he was exposed to a very physical battle up front and had to protect the ball and fight against the centre backs at long balls. He was very precious for us tonight.
I will be cautious now. There is an opportunity that he will be in the squad for Sunday. He will have a definite test on Saturday and Friday and Saturday will be two important days for him. It is not impossible that he will be involved.
Elneny will join us. We will see if he can qualify for Sunday.
on what he said to Jurgen Klopp…
I told him to calm down as they will send you into the stand here because at Liverpool you are very close to each other. He will explain that better to you than I would as I don’t really know why. I think it was for a throw in. There was no bad feelings at all.
I play every ball when you are 3-2 up and they go for those balls.
Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source
Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160113/wenger-on-the-draw-giroud-and-klopp#6oTo9irPLMC1ExCu.99
Disappointing that we could not hold on for the 3 points, but sometimes a point will just have to do as we can’t win them all. We’re still in a good position and there is still a long way to go in this title race.
Shaqiri will miss the game against Arsenal, he is set to miss a couple of weeks with an injury.
Considering the pressing Liverpool put on us in that game, 3-3 is a decent draw.
A point on the road. Heart breaking not to get the 3.
11 away games
10 home games
another away game.
If Liverpool play anything like the way they did tonight against Man Utd they will trash the red mancs.
I still saw a more dangerous Arsenal when in possession than Liverpool when in possession. They worked very hard. I would like to know whether we tried to contain them or whether we were tired.
Still it’s a game people will be drooling about for a long time because “that’s how football should be played”….
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New post up