What a night. One of the great nights of Champions League football; and yet again we're on the losing side during it.
In many ways the tie was the tale of two penalty decisions. Ours refused; theirs given. Whilst I don't want to add to the barrage of clichés about the Kop's supposed mystique - Clive Tyldsley practically had sex with it on ITV last night, it was sickening - their wails may have added to the reason the referee was so quick to award what was an extremely flimsy penalty. After doing exactly bugger all for the rest of the game, it was only fitting that Gerrard should whack it home. He's wasn't playing for England after all, so he could actually score last night.
And so, yet again, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. And what a victory it would have been. If any piece of play I've seen this season has warranted a win it was Theo's run. To skip past four defenders, run the length of the pitch, and calmly stroke it back to Ade for a tap-in announces your ability in a big way. Yet for the second time this season, Theo will be overshadowed by a poor referee and sloppy defending.
What this boy has to do to get a start is beyond me. Eboue actually had one of his better games last night, but still, when in two positions where he could have created a goalscoring opportunity, he could not cross the ball. I'll say it again: o assists, 1 goal this season. What is his function in the team? Comedy relief for the opposition. Leave, now. Theo has assists in Milan and Anfield and should start the remainder of games for the season. If he doesn't, what does it say about Arsene's belief in his abilities? That he's only good to run at tired legs? Eboue is a disgrace to the team, in terms of his ability and his attitude; Theo, even when not playing well, is almost the exact opposite. Learn your lesson Arsene.
Last night was a microcosm of almost our entire season. We passed the ball round beautifully, and destroyed Liverpool in the opening 20-30 minutes, yet only came away with one goal. Then Flamini went off injured and the inadequacies of our squad came into focus. Gilberto is now like a demi-Flamini; he performs the same function with about half the speed, stamina and effectiveness. After that Liverpool were able to dominate the centre of the park.
Again, we conceded with essentially a team's first attempt on goal. Senderos, who was dismal last night after a series of decent performances, completely lost Hypia, yes Hypia, who then headed over Cesc's head, and who might have done better if he had stayed on the post. Our defence is the worst in top four, and it consistently shows. For all our attacking ability, we're having to score more goals than we need due to a poorly organised defence.
Two players were then critical for Liverpool, Babel and Torres, who could very easily be playing for Arsenal were we willing to spend to accumulate. Again, we were undone by a team with a stronger squad than us, albeit only marginally.
Finally, key decisions went against us, because we had not converted our early dominance into anything tangible.
So, in short Anfield was our season: good start, insufficient squad, poor defending, bad luck/decisions, possession with no end product, and, ultimately, heartbreak. To go from the joy I felt after Ade scored to, almost instantly, the penalty was too much. Much too much.
A win on Sunday could offer some hope for the season, but we have a knackered squad with dangerously low morale. I'd like to think we can pick ourselves up for the last 5 games of the season, but last night may have been the final straw for some of our over-played youngsters this year. I hope I'm proved wrong, but the season defining week has not gone too well thus far.