Normally an equaliser at Anfield in the 80th minute is seen as a good point gained but I can not help feeling a little deflated after a good footballing performance against a team who hardly strung 3 passes together. It seemed as if Rafa Benitez instructed his players to get behind the ball and hoof it as far forward as possible to stop Arsenal from being anywhere near their goal.
I thought Arsene would have been a little more offensive and played 4-4-2 from the start, I would go as far as to say that if we did we would have won the match because Adebayor was isolated on his own upfront for much of the game and we could not create alot of our possession into chances. Having said that, Cesc could have scored a 3 goals today.
I was shocked with Rafa Benitez's tactics and formation today, it didn't seem to make much sense really. They started with 3 forwards on the pitch. Voronin and Kuijt were playing wide of Torres in a sort of 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 but they did neither jobs particularly well.
Tomas Rosicky came in for Theo Walcott and Hleb played in his favourite roaming position behind Adebayor. We are witnessing the after effects of injuries to Rosicky. He was way below his normal level today. He gave away alot of possession and could not influence the game we know he can do.
Liverpool started the match well and it only took 9 minutes for the first real opportunity of the match. Cesc and Alonso challenged for a 50/50 ball on the edge of the penalty area, Alonso got to the ball first and Cesc connected with Alonso. Freekick.
Everyone knew what was about to happen. Steve Gerrard drove the ball powerfully through the wall and straight past Almunia in a flash. 1-0 to Liverpool.
Arsenal typical of this season, responded very well and Alex Hleb drove in a left foot shot wide past Reina's goal.
On 18 minutes we got our first clear cut chance. Cesc swept a pass across to Adebayor who's first touch was heavy and took the ball across to his left side and tried to flick it past the onrushing Reina but the Spanish keeper managed to block it.
Another great move on 22 minutes saw Rosicky played in on the left side of the box, Reina charged out of his area to confront Rosicky who crossed past the keeper but Hyypia headered away from goal but the ball fell straight to Eboue who returned the ball towards goal but this time Jamie Carragher cleared the danger.
Gerrard had a strike from the edge of the box tipped over by the improving Almunia.
On 30 minutes, Liverpool half claimed for a penalty when Sami Hyppia's header struck Bacary Sagna's hand but it looked accidental.
on 32 minutes Eboue was rolling around on the floor as per usual. Carragher seemed to make slight contact with him. I don't like that side to Eboue and Arsene doesn't seem to be doing anything about it. Because he keeps doing it.
Steven Gerrard whipped in a quality freekick on 44 minutes which was just high for Hyypia.
Adebayor is usually the man for the big game but today he was off form. Everything he did, didn't work out for him. On 45 minutes he was sent clear on the right but his cross was low and deflected back into the arms of Reina.
Liverpool were very poor in the first half and were lucky to be winning 1-0. The game plan was to have everyone behind the ball until Arsenal lose it, then hit it as early and long as you can towards Almunia. I wouldn't be very content if I was a Liverpool supporter after witnessing the difference in quality.
Peter Crouch replaced Torres who was completely anonymous in the first half. He hasn't quite shook off his injury and must have found it hard to play in such a negative side.
Crouch instantly made a difference to the Liverpool team and hit a strike on the turn in the 52 minute. Gallas should have closed him down but backed away. Manuel Almunia managed to palm it away to safety.
The equaliser should have been in the 54th minute when a lovely passage of play saw master playmaker Hleb, who had another fantastic match, slide in Eboue on the right of the area and he cannoned a shot off the face of the post, the ball bounced back to Cesc who was standing around the penalty spot but he hit it over the bar first time. In hindsight he could have controlled it first and picked his spot.
I was wondering if it was going to be one of those days, all the possession, playing fantastic football, missed chances and nothing to show for it. Our quality of being able to score late goals made me keep believing it will happen.
Crouch who was causing us far more problems than Torres did in the first half had a chance to put Arsenal out of sight when the big man was played through into the right side of the penalty area but his right foot cross shot, whistled past Almunia's right hand post.
On 66 minutes Arsene made the change. Rosicky off for Theo Walcott. But to my surprise, he only changed it like for like. Walcott played on the left wing instead of moving upfront.
on 75 minutes Arsene made Jose Mourinho style substitutions by replacing Eboue and Clichy for Bendtner and Gilberto.
Riise hit a cracking volley over the bar on 76 minutes.
on 78 minutes Jamie Carragher did his usual trick and tugged back Cesc Fabregas in the box, if it was spotted by the referee or linesman (sorry assistant referee) then it would have been a certain penalty.
It wasn't to matter because two minutes later Hleb who had switched wings with Walcott cut in from the left and dinked a lovely waited pass into the path of Cesc who was bursting into the box. Fabregas poked it first time on the run past Reina who was caught by surprise by the early shot. 1-1.
We could and should have got the winner on the 87th minute when Cesc curled a lovely effort off the post from just outside the penalty area and the rebound fell to Bendtner who had an open goal and he blazed it over the bar just as Cesc had done in the first half. Truly amazing! How many times do you see players have open goals twice in one match, let alone blaze over twice in the same game.
Those were positions where Thierry Henry and Robert Pires was so calm and our young squad will get that calmness.
Steven Gerrard burst into the box after an exchange with Crouch but his effort was blocked wonderfully by captain William Gallas.
That is how the match ended, we have gone to Anfield who were tipped to be strong contenders this season after spending over 50 million on new players and we have made them look fairly average. We should have won the match but most Arsenal supporters would have taken a point before the game, especially after going a goal down after 9 minutes.
Manchester United at the Emirates will be different proposition for the team, they will make us defend more, make us chase the ball alot more and will be more creative than Liverpool were at their own ground. It should be a fantastic match and if Arsenal can grab 3 points then we will be right on track.