Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal

There is a hell of a lot to pick out from the rubble of last night. First up – that was incredibly entertaining, yet somehow not very fulfilling. I imagine neutrals and Sky executives loved it, but it left a sour taste in the mouth somehow. After that Chelsea Liverpool goalfest a few weeks back, I told all and sundry that it was not a classic as both teams were crap, and lots of goals do not instantly provide the Classic prefix. Last night was the same to be honest – classics need tension, tactics, duels being fought across the pitch and a touch of quality. The only quality last night came from our Russian and their Spaniard.

The game itself - added to the injury list from the weekend were RvP and Ade, but we welcomed back Andrey and a non-match fit Sagna. This meant another 4-5-1, with 2 defensive midfielders providing no threat going forward, and a whole lot of weight on Cesc’s shoulders to deliver the goods. To my mind, he offered very little for 90 minutes – this is something Wenger needs to address. He is a great player, but he does not play in the “hole” – he plays deep, probes the space behind and in front of the back 4, and allows us to play a quick passing game. Isolating him up the pitch means the range of his passing is restricted, and also reduces his impact on the game – he can’t pass the ball if he doesn’t get it.

Which brings me onto Denilson and Song. At the turn of the year, if I had to pick one of these two who would become indispensible and one who would become the new kitman, the decision was easy. It is now even easier. Song was again exceptional – a match for, if not better than, Mascherano on the night. When seen in the context of his recent other performances, I believe we may be seeing the coming-of-age of a good player. It may just be a purple patch, as he has also had some stinkers, but let’s be positive.

Denilson’s regression is becoming quite sad to watch. He was quietly effective at the start of the season, but is now becoming noisily crap. He looks sluggish off the ball, lazy in possession and somehow lost in the middle of the pitch. As with Song, this may be a change in form, rather than a clear demonstration of his actual ability, but it is worrying. Either way, the midfield balance was wrong-wrong-wrong last night, and needs to be addressed ASAP.

Up front Nikki B did little to support his first-team spot, but did little to suggest his doubters are right. He had no service, and is not a lone-striker. He is a young guy being played out of position, on his own, at Anfield, with a misfiring midfield behind him. Better players than the Dane have struggled in those situations. And also, let’s point out, that he had a legitimate goal disallowed for off-side. At this point, could I just mention that Andy Gray is a donkey-raping-shit-eater. He can take his “analysis” and shove it up his “anal-cyst” – I am not sure that works. But sod it – he’s a biased shit-spouting little maggot, who epitomises all that is wrong with Sky.

Now onto the Messiah - Andrey Arshavin is a very good footballer. It took him 30 minutes to have a touch, as the midfield couldn’t string together a sentence let alone a pass. But then he scored 4 goals in the remaining 60 minutes. Of which all were brilliant, one was incredible, and one made my life worth living. He is awesome. Thanks for bringing him to the Arse, Arsene, but next time we have a big game, say maybe a cup semi-final, let’s maybe think about playing our best players. OK?

Defensivley – atrocious. But what did we expect from an injury-ravaged and confidence strapped back 4. Fabianski was a mix of good and shit (why do you try to save a looping header by punching out from the back of the net? I’m a crap keeper myself, but I know it is harder to save them when they have already crossed the line). Sagna looked like he still had the flu, and was culpable for 2 of the goals. Toure looked like he was trying hard, but knew it wasn’t going to be his night. And Silvestre looked like a fish. And an ugly fish who is shit at football at that. I know Torres has “done” Vidic this season, and will do many other defenders, but Silvestre just isn’t good enough. We need Djourou fit, and we need another centre-back in the Summer.

At the start of the game, I’d have taken a point. When Andrey scored his third, I would have been angry to not win, when he scored his 4th I would have killed people if we didn’t get all 3. I didn’t kill anyone in the end, as I realised that it didn’t matter as much as Sky were telling me it did.


K man said...

Good post mate.

In fact, all 8 goals came from defensive errors. Sagna didn't look fit so why was he playing? He was cuplable for 2 goals while Eboue was on the bench. I'm not saying Eboue would've made a difference but you never know.

I actually felt sorry for Fabianski - he kept us in the game 1st half - we were awful and Liverpool (particularly Benayoun) were very good. We were extremely lucky to go in 1-0 up. 2nd half was a rollercoaster - I just don't have the words.

Overall we would've all probably taken a point. My reaction to this game is this - if we can get a really good centreback in the summer (I agree that Silvestre was out of his depth and Gallas may leave) and cover in midfield (Song can't do it all on his own) then we will genuinely have a shot at the tile next season - Fab, Arsh, Nasri and Walcott could be electric.

A final thought - are we not going to have to get rid of one of Ade or RvP in the summer? Not sure how you keep them, Eduardo, Arsh, Walcott, Bendtner and Vela all happy next season unless we get more injuries.

Obsinho said...

Our out & out strikers are Ade, RvP, Eddy and Nikki B. That is the right number for a big team, with the numbe of competitions we have.

The wide players are Arsh, Theo, Nasri, Vela. Again that seems right to me. Also remembering that Samir played ceontrally last night (and looked vert good) we may even need some more wide players!

Rhinogooner said...

Don't forget Jay Simpson coming back next season. I'd like to see room in the squad for him.

Obsinho said...

He hasn't set the world on fire at the Baggies, but he does have potential.

So I don't see the front 4/5 as a problem - I think last night made that apparent.

It is the back 5/6 where we need some investment. Nothing crazy, but just some proper competition for Song (well done him for making that position his own) and someone to take over Billy's position of wise-old head, to carry on teaching Kolo/Johann/Cliche/Bac/Gibbs. Silvestre can teach us nothing particulalrly useful.

Anonymous said...

get Eduardo out there.


Rhinogooner said...

I agree with Obs, I thought Nasri was very good last night. But in a different way. Different qualitites, that he possesses, stood out to me last night.

He made some nice tackles. He showed that spiky side that he has a bit of. He keeps impressing me and I think next season, he will become even more vital for us.

Where does Rosicky fit in now though???

I'm hopeful that we'll sign a solid, intelligent CB in the summer. And not some young African that no one has heard of or some French player who has looked decent for a midtable Ligue 1 side.

We need a proven, seasoned, quick, sturdy, tall war horse of a defender that can handle the Premiership from day one. We need him to be a leader at the back too. I love Kolo, but he does not talk to his team mates and organize or focus them. He's the Tasmanian Devil and he needs a calmer partner than can read the game and win everything in the air (like Sol did! - ahhh, what a partnership that was).

Last comment - I was thinking about the upcoming matches we have against the top sides. And I was thinking that last night's display, coupled with the FA Cup Semi display, has surely proven beyond any doubt that we need to play these matches with a 4-4-2 formation, right? I mean Mr. Wenger will privately concede this to himself and choose the right tactics from now on right?

*sigh* yeah, that's what I thought too - he's too stubborn, proud, and loyal to certain players so we're going to need some luck...

Obsinho said...

I wonder if Senderos may be the answer? I'm not saying he is, but I just wonder.

He's been playing first choice since the turn of the year, and Milan have been doing well. He's got some great players to learn from there, and it may just tip his confidence the right way.

He always had the ability to be a "no-nonsense" stopper, but seemed to doubt himself, or at least rate his opposition striker too highly.

K man said...


He may speak 10 languages and be a good bloke but he makes Fish Face look lightening quick

1979gooner said...

great write up obs,

on the balance we were lucky to escape with a point, however we did have so many players out at the back,

i thought the 4-5-1 looked awful until theo came on, the game then changed and we looked very dangerous on the counter,

even so if we had had djourou fit we may well have come away with a win