|Dirk earns a deserved point....again!|
Possession does not win you games, goals do - Barca have overwhelming amounts of possession in games, but they also have the goals to go with it, Arsenal do not. Their football may be attractive to watch at times but the reality is it is becoming far too tedious, predictable and the excuses afterwards - boring.
Liverpool are in a real transitional period there is no mistaking that, real changes are needed but the fight that Kenny Dalglish has instilled into the players since January is outstanding. Against Arsenal there were notable absentees, not fringe players but first team players. Teenagers stepped into the gaps and looked like naturals.
After a commanding performance against City at the start of the week an away game at Arsenal was perhaps not the best game to go in to but it wasn't all about defending as Wenger suggests. The starting 11 was not the first choice Liverpool 11, it was the best available, the injuries sustained disrupted the flow even further. It was a game about patience, concentration and discipline - without these Liverpool would have lost this game hands down - evidenced by one lapse that led to a penalty.
Liverpool lack width and pace, the whole world knows it, they know too that these are attributes that Arsenal have a plenty. Liverpool were never going to compete with Arsenal on their level, all they had to do was keep it cool and wait for the mistakes - mistakes that Arsenal are prone to give away. And in their search for the perfect goal they left space behind that a pacier team would have exploited - indeed their were times when Liverpool did break but could do nothing.
At the start of the season Arsenal got a lucky point at Anfield following on from a rare Pepe Reina mistake, at the Emirates Liverpool earned a deserved point and there is nothing anyone can say to deny that. Arsenal may have dominated possession but they had about as many decent chances of a goal as Liverpool did - and towards the end it was Liverpool who looked more likely to score as Arsenal became more impatient and left more space for the reds.
Every Liverpool player had a good game, and worked tirelessly to keep Arsenal at bay, but special mention must be given to the youngsters Flannigan and Robinson, the future of LFC? perhaps and on this showing it will be a good future, neither looked out of place, both played as players with far more experience than their young years should allow - just hope that Robinson lets Walcott out of his pocket before he goes home.
Lucas was immense as always, far often his contributions slip under the radar, he has been in all honesty probably Liverpool's best and most consistent player this season, and his performances see him as one of the best in England - he gets far less praise than he deserves.
Another player who often comes in for some criticism is Soto, but he came on in place of the flat out Carra and was like a brick wall, a quick glance down the twitter timeline an there was a whole host of negative and disparaging remarks immediately before his introduction but he was commanding, aware, quick to react, gave nothing and took everything in his challenges - was as if Carra had never left the pitch and the big Greek deserves big praise for this - not easy to come into a high profile game against unrelenting opposition and settle so quickly but he did.
Like i said all played well but had to give some mentions there.
Cant really argue too much with the penalties, didn't think there was too much intent from Spearing to bring the man down but that doesn't really matter much, there was contact in the box the man went down the ref really didn't have much choice. Now Arsene might moan but a considerable amount of time was wasted after the awarding of the pen, to the taking of the pen right through to the celebrations - the ref has to add this on.
And he did, and in that time Liverpool got a free kick, and there is a matter of seconds from Suarez striking the ball to Eboue bringing Lucas down - how fast does Wenger expect the ref to blow up?? as soon as the ball is kicked?? The referee didn't purposely set out to award a pen in the 100th minute.
Arsene Wenger has no one to blame but his own players - they went to pieces after their penalty, they got slop, they made rash challenges, they made 2 critical mistakes, the first to give away the free kick which could so easily have been a pen anyways, to Eboue bungling Lucas over - architects of their own downfall, didn't make their possession count and made mistakes - look closer to home Arsene.
What happened on the touch line is poor sportsmanship from Wenger, firstly to kick off at Kenny, feelings are charged up but when all is said and done its just a game and managers and players should have respect for each other - their is was no bad blood between the two before hand and during the game Kenny didn't do anything malicious to Wenger. Secondly there was a refusal to shake hands again poor from Wenger, words exchanged and Kenny told him what for and rightly so. I half expected Wenger to tell the press he didn't see the incident when they quizzed him on it - that's his usual line when he's in the wrong.
Next season the duels between these two clubs will be different, all indication is that Liverpool will strengthen, introduce some pace and width, and with a much more settled squad it will not be, as Arsene puts it, a case of Liverpool defending, defending and defending.
Arsenal however, don't seem to be going anywhere, Wengers stubbornness and (Barca Envy) will see them near again - just like this season - but not on top, a change is needed at the Emirates, they need to be more direct, they play good football but they lack belief especially when it counts and sometimes its better to just fire off the shots rather than walk the ball in, especially in the Premier League.