We have Ramsdale’s acrobatics, Liverpool’s profligacy, and a lot of last-ditch defending to thank for a draw, gouged from a punishing trip to Anfield.
We started off with confidence and style, striding to a two-goal lead, but were pegged back, first before half-time by Salah and then late by a Firmino header.
Liverpool’s momentum grew after a set-to between Xhaka and Alexander, and never dissipated. Perhaps it’s easy to build up a head of steam when you have a referee stoking the engine. Throughout, there was a strange disparity between the threshold for a foul, depending on the shirt colour.
People on the outside have set Arsenal new obstacles all season, whether it was bouncing back from the first defeat or the Europa League schedule, losing Jesus for several months or coping with a tough run in the new year.
Here was the toughest single challenge, definitely since City at home, and maybe since the start of the season:
A trip to the formidable last redoubt of a dissolute army. A wounded rabble accustomed to humiliation everywhere—everywhere but Anfield, where the indignation is shriller than the whistle blown in their favour every couple of minutes
Before we showed up, Liverpool had not conceded a goal at home in 2023, and they have suffered only one defeat all season. They even rested their big boys for this one, seemingly happy to sacrifice a game away at Chelsea mid-week.
When things got started, it was less Sturm und Drang and more slump and droop. Liverpool didn’t know how much to commit to their press, and when they did, we were able to cut through them with two or three composed passes.
Our first break of this kind gave us our opener, when Saka caused mayhem by powering forward. The ball bounced around to Martinelli who dabbed it home.
Arsenal continued to look menacing after the goal. We found Saka in boundless space down the right and his cross was skewed just wide at the back post by Jesus.
Before the half-hour we were two-up. This time Martinelli took advantage of Liverpool’s loose structure after being invited to chase a ball down the left flank by Xhaka. He had time to cut back and pick out Jesus, whose downward header skipped past Alisson.
Liverpool had mustered a couple of chances in between, but had never been able to pin us back, as is their wont in home games. Turns out, all they needed was 50,000+ irate fans and a complaisant referee in Paul Tierney.
A few minutes before the break, Xhaka and Alexander-Arnold had a tiff about something, and this seemed to get the crowd going. For the rest of the game we were heading away corners, blasting goal-kicks up for Van Dijk to win, and scurrying leftwards to try to close the space exploited by Salah.
Their first goal was kind of fortunate, with the ball stabbed across the box blindly by Henderson. Salah stole in to turn it home, but it looked like it rebounded off his shins as Gabriel tried to clear.
The second half was a 51-minute assault. Heavy Metal football as they call it, but with Paul Tierney on the drums. It’s tough to clear your lines when the person receiving the ball is manhandled, and it’s hard to win a duel when your shirt is being pulled, almost every single time.
Conversely, it must be a doddle gambling on the transitions when the initiative is being handed to you by the ref time after time.
In this fashion Liverpool’s pressure built to unbearable levels. Some time early in the first half we dealt with one of what felt like a hundred corners. Jota was first to the ball, running away from goal before suffering some kind of seizure, locking up and collapsing at the feet of a perplexed Rob Holding. The result was a gift of a penalty, with love from Paul to ‘Pool.
Justice was done when Salah scuffed the penalty wide, but Liverpool’s Tierney-driven momentum continued to build. Summing up that impunity, Konate went straight through Xhaka with studs showing. No card. No foul in fact, and it sparked another Liverpool attack.
The few times we were able to negotiate their press, we looked dangerous, but our decision-making was foggy, dulled no doubt by constant firefighting.
In the last half-hour they managed to bundle through our backline more frequently, forcing Ramsdale into a succession of ever more astonishing saves. He clawed away a Salah strike, and plunged to halt Darwin, who had been unleashed when Klopp sent on all of the strikers.
The frustrating thing about the equalizer was that we had just started to give Liverpool something to worry about, especially with overloads down the left. A couple of minutes before Liverpool’s goal, Gabriel had a free header from a corner, directed straight at Alisson.
Also frustrating is that Zinchenko got done so easily by Alexander-Arnold, who had all the time he needed to scoop it to Firmino unmarked.
The onslaught continued, but not without reply. Tierney dragged a shot wide, and Martinelli over-hit a simple pass to set Saka clear. Well, it would have been simple if he hadn’t needed to spend the whole match switched on and sprinting back towards our goal.
At our end, Ramsdale pulled off a scarcely believable save from a deflected strike, and Konate miscued with the goal gaping. Maybe he’d have made better contact if Xhaka’s shin had been in the way.
Arteta claimed it was two points dropped. Possibly, but a draw is a creditable result when you’re facing the 2019-20 version of Liverpool, with 2019-20 refereeing. Truly, there’s nowhere quite like fortress Anfield, as the other big sides have discovered this season. Birdkamp.
the gobshites have let west ham level it, for fucks sake
Trossard on for Jesus
Jorginho on for Partey
10 minutes to save our title hopes, bring eddie on for fucks sake
west ham hit the post
vieira on for tierney
nelson on for martinelli
5 minutes left, plus stoppage time
Nketiah on for odegaard
so so poor
Dang. Falling apart like in 89, with probably no miracle at the end.Dang. Why didnt we go for the third in the first half and kill the game?
FT: West Ham 2-2 Arsenal
Jesus and Odegaard with our goals, for me the title is gone, you can’t expect to win the title after giving up a 2 goal lead for the second game in a row. We are 4pts ahead of man city who have a game in hand, so it is still in our own hands, but performance has not been good enough, went from dominating in both games, to hanging on for a draw, the pressure of a title race seems to have got to the team. Saka has been poor for a few weeks now, but is untouchable and is left on, its odd. His penalty miss today compounded things today.
We now have no room for error with 7 games to go, need to win them all, including man city away
Southampton up next on friday
Mills its the biggest criticism I have of this team, when we go 2 up we are more likely to fuck about and let opponents get a foothold in the game than we are to go on and hit four five six, we have no killer instinct, it becomes possession for possessions sake, we are behind city in GD, when we went 2 up today we should have been going flat out to kill west ham off and surpass city, but it was “ah its only west ham” lazy ass attitude
I agree Ed. One thing City have is that killer instinct, ok we dont have a Haarland, but I thought pulling Jesus off at the end was a mistake? Seemed as if we had the fantasy of the last second winner again. I dont think we should be relying on that anymore. Even if we had have sneaked on in at the end it wouldnt have been anything but relief (rather than a massive celebration).
The last two games also had an outside factor: stun the crowd into silence, but then let the opposition in and the 12th (person/man/ whatever) is urging them over the line. We certainly went awol for way too long in the second half. Perhpas Trossard should have come on at HT, I dont know, Xhaka seemed a bit quiet today.
Personally I think we might get a result at City but Im not sure about the other games, as you say Ed, too much arrogance and counting the old eggsies. Bloody naif. Seems like too much looking over the shoulder at Blondie City, the City victory over Bayern (etc) has scared everyone to death ( Bayern are canny though and that games not over yet), but really we should be looking in the headlights or looking back- and we seem to do it at 2-0.
The frustration is enormous, 89 was the same. Dang. What a waste. West Ham will now go and lose in the Council Europa league.
I thought Eddie was fantastic from the moment he came on he never stopped running until a minute later when the final whistle went.
Quite frankly he must be the most patient striker in the history of the game.
Thank you Mills for some perspective
Just not enough in the tank after the penalty miss. City as always as George noted the obvious favourites so nothing changes there. Arsenal have to win at City & probably the rest & as Mills observed that is almost impossible.
Saka not so much poor was in need of a break same as KDB, the Arsenal player could’ve done with a little rest at the same time IMO could be wrong but I think the city player was given a rest.
City rotating players at HT whilst Bayern players are punching each other in the face (TBF Sane should’ve passed!)
Hope Saka and others are fresh for the next two huge games.
Yep Eddie & Nelson & even Jorginho could’ve come on earlier.
though I can appreciate not pulling Saka soon after the miss even if fatigued. his head wasn’t in the game on that counter when MO was open though Saka did re-find his focus. Can understand the coach leaving him on.
Funny thing is fins, practically and logically, as in 89, it feels impossible, but Im such a nut that I still feel ( those dang feelings!)we might sneak it by some sméagol sneakiness-as utterly illogical as it may be…however we must whip the Sotonists. Then go to Blondie City and play with skill and fire, hard as dirty dogs, smart as weasels. But Im sure Im deluding myself, but thats hope for you as long as its their we humans will cling onto it. But I dont think theres a recipe for winning the league this year, sometimes this will work and other times not.
But then logical calls out and says, ok so even if we beat City, we beat Chelsea, we beat the Toon, but we will then lose to Forest! Doubt is such a destroyer. As poor old soul Saka found out today.
Maybe we should forget about winning the whole dang thang, and just go for every game and see what happens? Maybe its the old bad faith rising? Dont try to be champions dont try to be anything specific that seem other, but just play? Im sure they are already thinking this way. Just hope the lads can steady the boat, dont get to freaked out, dont listen to speculative punditry, stay close and cool and get mean and hard again. But maybe thats it we collapsed and its a limp to the line in second.
So Im full of shit for the dualists: its impossible, but it might be possible. hence me having no career as a pundit, as they loathe paradoxes! Trouble is I cant give up on Arsenal. Even if we dont win, at least it was a bloody fine run!
With Saliba & Tommy plus Mo all down I inked in three potential L’s on the fixture list as the last run of games began all of them Away.
Gunners still doing ok though two out of three remain.
City still the favourites.
Actually I thought Jesus was part of the problem, he was coming deeper and deeper and when we were clearing the ball there was no one to challenge for it so it just kept coming back.
A standard forward would have chance that especially as he chases everything there is no lost causes.
I think we could of easily pulled the whole front three as after the first ten minutes they were ineffective.
The major problem in the last two games was attitude, the Liverpool and West Ham defences didn’t suddenly become good but we stopped attacking them in both games.
City quite often concede goals but they never stop coming forward.
You also need a brave manager to replace the best players when their not playing well and leaving Saka on today was criminal.
As far as not having enough in the tank to finish the job, we were playing a side low on confidence, with a poor defence and had just played away in Europe. We had the whole week to rest and didn’t even have to travel outside London. It was them that should of been fucked not us.
At no point this did I logically think we were going to win the league this season but I was so gutted after the game I was obviously starting to dream.
The fact we give up both games with such a damp squib is galling.
I thought we were supposed to have ten cup finals left, well if Mikel honestly thought that was worthy of a cup final then something is very wrong.
7 games to play, 6 wins and a draw and AFC win the title, if we beat man city we only need 6 wins maximum, its in our own hands
our next win gurantees CL football next season
When was the last time an Arsenal keeper saved a pen? May be wrong, but seems a long time ago.
Looks too much like they relax at 2-0, a comedy of errors let them back in ,judging by the look of Arteta after that game they might want to stop doing that.
Anyone know what has happened with ESR? On the bench and good for a goal?
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