Aug 152010

Liverpool 1 (Ngog 46) Arsenal 1 (Reina og 90)

The footballing obituary was being written. Manuel Almunia, recalled to the side after Lukasz Fabianski had so woefully thrown away his chance to prove himself in pre-season, had been beaten at his near post by Ngog’s fizzer in the opening moments of the second half. At the other end, Reina had dealt well with a Vermaelen piledriver, an excellent Walcott free kick, and most notably, gotten fingertips on a late Rosicky effort that had seemed our best chance of escaping Anfield with a point. The words ‘tale of two keepers’ were on lips up and down the country.

And then Reina proved that even the best can make absolute howlers. Rosicky’s cross looked innocuous, but he lost the ball in the sun, and Skrtel stopped tracking Chamakh, who stole in to nudge the ball against the post. It seemed the chance had gone when it bounced back into Reina’s arms, but he contrived to spill it into the corner and a point was rescued. After his part in the Cesc-Barca-shirt ‘prank’ last month, it seems karma was there to give him an early season kick in the teeth.

It was an equaliser that had looked unlikely. A decent first half performance lacked the chances that the impressive interplay deserved, but Liverpool hadn’t troubled us too much either. But on the stroke of half time, Joe Cole, who had been frustrated by tenacious midfield work on our part, lunged into Koscielny and got his marching orders. The red card was correct – Cole had jumped off the floor and gone in recklessly – but it was nothing like the sort of malicious challenges we’ve been on the receiving end of over the past few years. Credit to Cole who checked on Koscielny at half time.

It was a turning point, but for all the wrong reasons. Previously, we were battling hard, engaged in a tight tussle with a strong team looking to put last year’s troubles behind them. But it seemed the man advantage caused our players to switch off and coast, an infuriating attitude that failed to disappear even after a fired up Liverpool took the lead. Loose passing on the edge of our area saw Mascherano play in Ngog, whose finish was emphatic. As I said earlier though, from the angle he was striking it, Almunia will have been disappointed to be beaten at his near post. Good hit though.

We expected a response, but it failed to materialise. Arshavin looked leggy and disinterested at times, while Diaby was his usual mix of impressive touches and infuriating lack of concentration. The speed of touch of the first half was replaced by a group of players unable to string any incisive passes together.

In fairness, Liverpool defended exceptionally well with their ten men, and it was only going to be a magical moment or a mistake that let us back in, Rosicky provided the magic but was denied in stunning fashion, before Reina went from hero to zero in an instant with his late gaffe.

There were plenty of positives and negatives to take from the game. Starting with the down side – we looked worrying devoid of ideas in the second half, Almunia is clearly still suffering from a lack of confidence (witness his two flaps in the first half), while some of the lazy play has yet to be eradicated from our game. Wilshere looked raw, although at eighteen that should be expected and forgiven.

But while there has been an overwhelmingly negative reaction to the game, there were bright points. Nasri was excellent in the first half, Eboue lively too. Chamakh led the line well against an organised defence, and we looked a threat from corners for a change. But the biggest plus point was Koscielny. I wasn’t alone in having doubts about his slight frame in pre-season, but he was immense at the back today, even coming back to play the second half with a giant lump on his leg from Cole’s challenge. His only blight was the extremely harsh second yellow he picked up at the end for handball, despite Ngog’s very deliberate handball earlier in the half not resulting in a card. It smacked of a jobsworth referee looking to even the game up, and was wholly unnecessary.

We have issues, there can be no doubting it. The fear at Koscielny’s injury was telling of the lack of backup available, and we don’t have a keeper who imbues confidence into the defence. But at the end of the day, while the point was fortunate, it was an excellent result considering we were without Cesc, Van Persie (until late on) and Song, three of our most critical players. A loss would have been a poor way to start the season, a draw in such a tough fixture much less so.

Conclusions? With a keeper and a centre back, we could be a fearsome proposition. Over to you, Arsene.

  16 Responses to “Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal: Just as we were preparing to blame Almunia…”

  1. We need a keeper and a cb. I have a feeling Shwarzer will come in along with sparic right at the end of the window. Both experienced and both leaders. I think we should have won the game the way we played in the first half and their goal really was out of nothing. Wilshere should not have lost that. I understand he is young but at that point I was a bit annoyed at rosicky not starting. I guess that can happen to anyone so blaming jack’s inexperience might be harsh.

    Anyway all in all a point at Anfield is a good point. And boy Karma really played its part today with Reina. I LOVED the fact that he dropped the ball right in the corner where the Arsenal fans were. It was hilarious! Thanks for helping the “futore eh Arsenal” Pepe!

  2. Ngog’s goal was not Almunia’s fault. The shot was a scorcher and well placed. The responsibility for that goal falls squarely on the shoulders of Arshavin, who gave them the opportunity to score by carelessly passing the ball to them on a very poor “clearance”. Our biggest problem today was in the final third, not very good link up play, and poor passes to forwards making a run into the box, how many times did Arshavin turn the ball over? Hopefully that will improve once Fab and Van P are back to playing the full 90.

    • We, Arsenal have more problems contributing to why we will not win the league or any other title, if theseproblemsare not properly addressed. Therefore, itit very unfair to keep on blaming ourlack of wins on on the GK or CB situation.

      The problems as I see are:

      1. Lack of KILLER INSTINCT. We never seem to have or play with the urgency to put teams away even when they are way belowour standard. We give every team a chance to get back in games.

      2. Lack of PROPER TEAM SELECTION AND SUBSTITUTION. AW does not select his teams based on the opponent, and he does not make substitution at the appropriate time in the game. Most time he waits too long to take out players who doing nothing in the game. Case in point is today,s game againt Liverpool. I do no t think that he put the best team on the field, and he brought on RVP and TR too late.

      3. ALWAYS WANTING TO SCORE THE PERFECT GOAL. the team always seem to walk the ball into the goal. You do try to dribblenad pass the ball into the 18 yard box when 9 or ten of the opposing players are in the area. Case in point again was today,s game against Liverpool. Many times I sse players with open shorts around the the box but never take it. Unless we start shooting from distance, it will always be easy to defend us. did any watch the TOT and Man City game yesterday, playersfrom both teams were taking shorts from 20-30 yards outand from everywhere.

      4. AW,S BELIEVEAND LOYALTY TO PLAYERS. It seems obvious that some ofthe current players do not belong or deserve to play at this level. However, AW continues to keep them and consistently play the.

      I better stop here because I could go on and on to never ending.

      • I agree with 1 and 2 but 3 and 4 are false.
        #3: Last season we led the league in goals scored outside the box, with 19 goals. The next highest outside-the-box team only had 10 goals. Today’s game had at least 3 good attempts outside the box. Did you not see Clichy’s long range attempt? This is a common misconception about Arsenal, started since the days of Hleb.

        #4: AW refrains from having a personal relationship with players off the field because he does not want to have any favorites. He has said it in a number of interviews that he does not want anything to cloud his judgment in team selection and transfers. His selection/transfer policy is based on the idea of keeping the players that he has groomed. Shouldn’t Walcott have started if favorites were true?

  3. Really good game today
    With fab out, rvp out, daiby only match fit, denilson out, song out and almunia in goal, arshavin injured
    add to that
    wilshere an 18 yr old in midfield
    Diaby didnt played a single game in pre season
    and two players on debut we did really well to come out with a draw with all these things

    Bring on a new keeper and CB backup because Kos looked awesome and we are ready for the title

  4. What a load of rubbish – are you saying Cech wouldn’t have saved that? Wilshire was to blame but he still should have saved it!
    As for Arshavin, what’s his problem? Injured again? Because he played like it!

    • I don’t know about Cech, b/c I can’t stand watching Chelsea that often.

      But I do watch the ‘Pool, and Van der Sar was beaten by Torres in the same goal, in the same way. In fact, Almunia got his fingers to it with less time to set himself b/c he wasn’t expecting Arshavin to give the ball to Mascherano and Vermaelen wasn’t close enough for the same reason. He will be disappointed, but it’s not a screw up.

      Reina screwed up this w/e; Tim Howard screwed up this w/e; Kirkland was beaten at the near post this w/e among other missteps; Given isn’t even getting off the bench for a team in the Europa league (ahem).

      I also remember Luis Fabiano scoring against Boubacar Barry in the same fashion. And I remember Maicon scoring against Valdes at the near post. But googling “beaten at the near post” doesn’t turn up much, so maybe goal keepers are never beaten at the near post, or maybe only Arsenal “supporters” are the only ones to make a deal about it because they have the knives out for Almunia b/c he isn’t a top 5 goal keeper in the world and therefore all our lives are shit. Can’t you deal with your negative emotions in a more constructive way?

  5. I wish Almunia would become a “stay at home” goalie. It’s when he leaves his line for corners and setpieces that the flaps and misses occur.
    I hope Arsenal appeal against Koscielnet’s dismissal. Any video will confirm that the handball was accidental.

  6. Ngog’s shot was a top shot…maybe Almunia shld have saved it but Torres scored an almost identical goal against Van de Sar when ManYoo played at Anfield last year.

  7. You say Almunia is lacking confidence, and use the corners he missed as proof of this. Fact is that if he lacked confidence he would probably choose the safe option and stay on his line in stead of going for the ball.

    I belive our lack of high players make our goalkeepers more vulnerable when they try to command the area.

  8. I just don’t get the gripe. First game, away against Liverpool. Seems like some people expect Arsenal to kill Liverpool. Usually Liverpool is a place you breathe easier if you leave without disgrace. What happened today was that Arsenal show that they have much more to offer than Liverpool, and although not delivering the goods today, they will be extremely hard to handle for anyone. Why else did Arsenal have most of the possession, and allmost all of the clever passing? Because they have the superior talent. This was a game that proved to me that Arsenal will be very difficult to beat this year.

  9. The fault is alamunia as we are arsenal wb are blaming alamunia and we repuested to buy us anew goalkeaper in order to recieve the trophy

  10. Almunia have a good game, that’s what Wenger said, and it is a bit true. Tonight he’s not really bad right?

    Sagna, good game, but not really sharp. If Van Der Wiel signed, maybe we are better, but just forget it, let support our OWN man.

    Glichy, decent game, i scared to death when i hear Arsenal want swap him with Melo, please don’t.

    Koscielny Koscielny Koscielny, it is nice to have him in squad tonight, without his header, many of through pass cant be intercept.

    Vermaelen, good as always, even make a mistake, but talking about game, he has it.

    Diaby, he is a good dribbler, but bad at shooting, need to improve that and his strength.

    Eboue, sometimes he change the game, but he hold the ball too long dude.

    Arshavin, i cant see him, so, no comment. (maybe got a tight mark, he scored all 4 goal isn’t it?

    Nasri, i like when he played CM, if he played like tonight, and combo with Fabregas, maybe we can lift trophy this season.

    Wilshere, totally nervous and inexperience, but he is 18!

    Chamakh, tight marking dude, he cant really move, Skrtel love him so much right? Always stick with him.

    Walcott, i hope he stay fit this season, we need you man!

    Rosicky, another loyal servant of arsenal, his passing is just great man.

    Robin van Persie, he cant really move right?

    Overall, i think it was fantastic we escaped from losing, we played in Anfield mates,not Emirates!
    Just look at the line up, Liverpool has better, but we drew with them at Anfield!

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