Monday 16 August 2010

A useful point

As with all games there were positives and negatives, there were good performances and the less so, however overall I was generally encouraged by what I saw. In retrospect I think Arsene got his starting eleven slightly wrong, we did lack width and this meant Liverpool could defend a bit more comfortably than we should have allowed, especially after Cole had been sent off to leave them with ten men.

We started well, we controlled the first half and looked by far the better side. The problem was that we didn't convert our overt domination into chances and shots on goal. It was all a bit lacking in width and some of the the build up was a tad slow, the passing was quite as quick and sharp as it can be. Eboue and Arshavin offered very little and Chamakh looked a bit isolated. Nasri was looking dangerous, Wilshere had an ok first half and Diaby played with real discipline in a deeper role than he normally takes up.

The moment that changed the game when Joe Cole was quite rightly shown a straight red card for a reckless late lunge through Koscielny's leg, after he had cleared the ball. The expected banter of 'he's not that kind of player' and 'there was no intent' materialised on Guttersports but this didn't really cut the mustard. It wasn't a blocking challenge, it was a challenge that was directed through Koscielny's leg, this makes Cole that kind of player, it was a poor tackle that could have resulted in serious injury. Even Mark Lawrenson felt it was a clear red card on MOTD2. Well done to the referee for having the bottle to send off a Liverpool player at Anfield, they do so often get away with murder, in Gerrard's case quite literally. In fact Gerrard was very lucky to stay on the pitch yesterday, his first half tackle on Eboue was shocking, a yellow card at least and he then went on to be commit two or three yellow card offences in the second half.

At half time most Gooners would have been rather optimistic but this didn't last long. A bit of sloppy play saw a bit of a hospital pass sent towards Jack Wilshere who tried to be a bit ambitious with it, failed to control it, this then saw Ngog played in, he belted the ball into the top corner at Almunia's near post. Personally I don't think you can blame the goalkeeper for being beaten by such a pearler, the blame must go to those who gifted the ball to Liverpool in such a dangerous area. After that goal Liverpool sat back, we huffed and puffed but didn't really threaten, until the final twenty minutes or so.

Theo, Rosicky and RVP had come on by this time and all three made a real difference. Theo's gave us more of a cutting edge and some width. Rosicky gave us some push forward from the centre of midfield and RVP gave us that aggressive drive that he always does. We started to create a few chances, Rosicky swung in a nice cross that Vermaelen headed wide, Theo hid a great free kick with Reina saved well, Rosicky went on a brilliant run and after a neat one-two forced an astonishing save from Reina.

The equaliser then came, Reina and Carragher were caught napping as a cross was swung in, only the hard working Chamakh attacked it and he had his reward, he bundled it onto the post, it then rebounded to the back tracking Reina who fumbled it into his own net, 1-1 it was. We had a great chance to win it when Theo again found space in the wide right area, unfortunately his cross was headed over at the back post. The ref, who lost the plot in the second half, sent off Koscielny with an astonishingly poor decision for the second yellow card, the ball was belted into his arm from point blank range, he simply couldn't get out of the way. The ref finally booked the violent Gerrard in the second half but if anyone deserved red, it was this thug of a scouser who committed at least three stonewall yellow card tackles in the game.

Overall a point at Anfield is a good point, Liverpool will be very decent this season under Hodgson who always gets the best out of his players. The positive was the way we controlled and dominated the game with the teams even in number. The negatives included the lack of clear cut chances despite the possession and our lack of width. It is harsh to judge Andrei Arshavin on the basis of one game, especially when he has only just experienced a tough return trip to Russia, but he does need to up his game this season. Despite his slightly erratic nature Theo does give us something extra, his pace scares teams and pushes them deeper, he also creates a lot of space for other players just because of his threat. Koscielny also did well when he was asked to defend, that moment when he outpaced Torres was good to see. Overall a point gained, but the gaps in terms of goalkeepers and centre backs remain.


Anonymous said...

Our attacking play in the final 1/3 was a bit laborious at times and we missed that killer pass in that area all game. It was AA that played the ball to young Jack (leading up to the Liverfools goal). However, it wasn't a hospital pass, Jack tried to be too cute and should have controlled it and clear it. Naive on his part-he will improve before he really can make a major impact on a game like this.

Red Arse said...

A good report, can't find anything to disagree with really.

I certainly agree that Almunia gets a bad press. Ngog's shot would have beaten most keepers, frankly.

Still early days for the team to gell but one or two players, like clichy and Eboue, need to pull their fingers out.

Relieved to get a point for all our domination.

Anonymous said...

Lucky draw. Didn't look like scoring in a month of Sundays. It took an own goal from the opposition.

A lot of hype about Chamakh - anonymous in the match.

1979gooner said...

Red Arse,

agree. Clichy does need to pull it out, I'd be inclined to give Gibbs a few games to see how he goes.

Overall it wasn't a lucky draw, Liverpool rarely did anything at all and despite our lack of a cutting edge, we created the better chances overall.

Drew said...

It's a bit harsh to criticize Chamakh on his Premier League debut, at Anfield, and when the rest of the team isn't exactly providing him a ton of service. He was having trouble out jumping the Liverpool center backs on long balls from Almunia, but again, it's his first game at this level.

The only time Liverpool was dangerous from open play was when Kuyt attacked Clichy.

Again, it was a mistake from midfield that gifted them a goal (it was well taken). Our defense played very well. Koscielny played very well for his first match.

Who's going to partner TV against free scoring Blackpool?

Drew said...

One more thing: it's easy to forget about Rosicky, but he clearly showed that he a class player today. He displayed a range of passing that of the Arsenal players can only be matched by a certain Spaniard. I love Jack Wilshire as much as the next Gooner, but Rosicky is still in a class above little Jack.

Anonymous said...

Overall I thought we were poor laqcking in creativity & no balls for a fightin the midfield. We were gifted an own goal due to rthe sun & keeper I'd willingly have in our team.
No chance for the league this year boys...

Anonymous said...

It wasn't Clichy, but Arshavin that made the over-hit pass to Wilshere, who probably thought Arshavin would just boot it downfield. Nasri also looked to be thinking the same as he had already turned and was starting to head up the pitch, so was also caught out by a reckless pass into a dangerous area.

Uncle Mike said...

Almunia impressed me, and I don't fault him for the N'Clog goal. (Nope, that's not a typo, that's an insult.) Rosicky was better than I've ever seen him, and Walcott gave me some good signs.

Nasri did well, but I saw a few mistakes and, clearly, he can't yet "run the offense," U.S.-football quarterback style or basketball point-guard style, like Cesc can. Song was badly missed as well: Without those 2, we seemed kind of, well, I don't know how else to put it, but "decaffeinated."

The usual from Verms (the biggest reason we were still in it late), good game from Sagna and Clichy, and bravo to Kos, for getting up, and for, well, let's just say he's not the first guy who's ever wanted to kick Dirk Kuyt in the nuts.

Wilshere didn't look ready: Effort good, performance weak. Arshavin better have been actually hurt, because if he can't be arsed to hustle against Liverpool, then maybe Barcelona would be interested in spending that 29 million on a much-hyped Gunner after all.

Drew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drew said...

"It wasn't Clichy, but Arshavin that made the over-hit pass to Wilshere, who probably thought Arshavin would just boot it downfield."

I couldn't disagree more. Jack had all the time in the world to control it. Plus, when has an Arsenal team NOT tried to play it out of the back. For Jack to think Arshavin would hoof it makes me think Jack has never seen Arsenal play, much less trained with them.

Ted said...

I agree with much said above. However, for me, this game was a repeat of so many last season. We had an enormous amount of possession but created virtually nothing in terms of goal scoring chances.

Chamakh takes some praise for his persistence, and was involved in the goal, but the only 'chance' I thought we created was Rosicky in the second half.

Otherwise, a good performance at Anfield and worthy of a draw, but the shortage of chances created is worrying.

Anonymous said...

Best goalkeeper lol. If you have a dog and a monkey in goal, the monkey might be the best goalkeeper but doesn't mean you'll win anything. These stupid blogs talk so much unambitious crap its untrue. The blokes a joke, worst goalkeeper in the prem and Fabianski isn't fit to play in any English division. What club do you support Arsenal or Tamworth?

Uncle Mike said...

Watch it, "Anonymous." I've got a dog who's actually quite good at football.

Of course, he's a Chihuahua, which makes him Mexican... But he can outplay an English wolfhound or Irish setter or even a German shepherd!

I've also got a 3-year-old niece who passes better than Denilson and hustles more than Arshavin. Doesn't yet dance as well as Eboue, though.