Sunday, March 12, 2006

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1.

We have a very ill Goonerboy today. I'm hoping its just a one day thing - but i feel very nasty.

I missed the opening twenty minutes of the game, although i did subsequently see T's opening goal. What a finish! And what a pass from Cesc! It seemed to split the entire Liverpool team in two, and TH finished from his favourite position, left channel, beautifully flighting the ball past Reina. After that we should have scored several more. Liverpool were pretty dire in the first half and we didn't capitalise on it. Had it not been for Crouch's appalling miss it it could have even been level at the end of the first half. Two other incidents of the half were a cause of concern. Freddie suffered a relapse of his calf injury and was forced to come off after 10 minutes. Hopefully it's not serious, given his recent resurgance of form is taken into account. Kolo also went down heavily, and for an awful moment, it appeared he might have to come off. Thankfully he ran the injury off.

Liverpool were far brighter in the second half - Kewell and Fowler came on and they suddenly looked like much more of a threat. I had hoped that the replacement of Hamann with Fowler would open up their midfield more - instead Liverpool began to really push us back. Gerrard, who'd had a rather middling game up to this point suddenly sent a stinging drive at Jens from some 35 yards. Jens panicked a bit and blocked the ball instead of catching it, despite the fact his entire body was behind the shot. He couldn't get enough distance on his punchl and Garcia was quickest to react. 1-1. Given his superb performances of late, and the end result, I think Jens can be slightly absolved of blame. It was a difficult shot to deal with, and our defence were very slow to react.

Typical, I thought: we dominate the game, but are going to come out of it with 1 point. Worse, in the next few minutes Liverpool looked the more likely to score. But, unlike some other performances this season, we dug in, held on, and began to regain the advantage. Then Xabi Alonso was rightly sent off. He'd been booked only a few minutes earlier, and the ref had clearly had a word with him then - he then went and threw himself at the Flamster in a dreafully late challenge and was given a second yellow card. He took an age to leave the field and it was good to see Phil giving him what for! Then, on 84 minutes Stevie G gave us a lovely little piece of help. He turned and, almost absent mindedly, stroked the ball back to Reina. Cue TH intercepting the ball and scoring. Should Stevie be credited with an assist? In the final few minutes we could have got another: Bobby hit the post when he perhaps should have scored; T had a superb free-kick wonderfully saved by Reina.

A great win then, which really puts us in a excellent position from which to get bloody 4th place. We have a decent run in ahead of us now. I can see us dropping points at Old Trafford, as United always raise their game for the big teams, but aside from that we should not be dropping any points from now on. If we do this, we will qualify for the CL. We've really turned a corner recently, and we should now power home.

Man of the Match: Cesc. I am sorely tempted to give it to TH, who was awesome and really looked like a captain today, but Cesc ran a midfield which included Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. Indeed he had to put up with some pretty cynical hacking from Alonso all game, which no doubt contributed to his sending off. Maybe Alonso is worried about his WC place? Fab's pass to Henry was awe inspiring, and he was great all game. Is there any way we can naturalise him!!

Player ratings:

Jens: one slight mistake aside, which admittedly contributed to the goal, was solid. 6
Eboue: great game, but had a chance to score which he should have taken. 7.
Toure: Possibly at fault for the goal, a warrior apart from that. 7
Phil: Good game, and great to see he's taking Keown's advice about letting the opposition know who's boss! 7
The Flamster: Ashley who? Just joking, but he's really grown into the LB position, against my expectations. If Arsene has any sense he won't put Cygan in for him when he returns from injury. 7.5.
Freddie -N/R went off too early. Bobby: ok, but he's not the player he was. 5.
Fab. Fab. 9.
Gilberto. Better than usual, and helped with the tackling more. 6.5.
Hleb. Ranged from the infuriating to the sublime. Gave the ball away a few times, but then also produced some great passes. Will get better. 7.
TH. Superb, looked a captain, and got us the goals. Looks happier at the moment. 9
Adebayor. Some nice touches; needs to improve his finishing. Again, will improve. 6
Dennis. I know he has one last great moment in him -showed his age today. 6

Two last things:
does anyone know how i change the background/ header of my blog to a picture? And, why wasn't Diaby even on the bench? Injury?

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