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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Gerrard Goes AWOL Again

Oh but it's not poor Stevie's fault, that once again he was comprehensively outplayed by a quality side. The next time he scores a belter with his two hundredth shot of the game against footballing luminaries such as Luton Town or West Ham his journalist friends will be quick to remind us how gifted poor Stevie is. Of course his next insipid display in an England shirt (in two days time) will be explained away, because 'oh, he can't play with Lampard' or 'oh, he can't play on the right.' Always an excuse isn't there? Poor Stevie suffered the ignomity of becoming Liverpool's FOURTH choice central midfielder behind Sissoko, Alonso and now Zenden. This folks, is because Steven Gerrard is no longer a player who will get back into his own half and fight to regain possession, he provides no protection for his back four. Notice the three or four occasions where he did actually conspire to touch the ball, he took a first time pot shot on every occasion. The myth of Istanbul was exposed as a sham, as Gerrard responded to going behind by resting his chin firmly on his chest. Presumably because, unlike Istanbul, there was no Didi Hamann to come on and rescue him. (Now Did is gone, I wonder who cuts poor Stevie's meat in the club canteen?) Or maybe the sight of Theo Walcott as an unused sub put poor Stevie off, as it did in Germany in the summer?

Anyway, enough of the gloating. Though given the level of abuse I received for daring to claim poor Stevie was over rated, I felt it was necessary to make this point. I was absolutely pleading with Wenger to bring Theo on at the end. Never mind, because it was an awe inspiring display by the lads. It was not quite typical pass and move fare from the Gunners, there was something different about this one, it was more Champions League than Premier League. We outmanouvered Liverpool tactically. The injury to Rosicky limited our midfield options, but I must confess I was surprised to see Flamini start in midfield. But in retrospect, it was an inspired decision. Flamini's tireless work rate meant that Liverpool's playmakers were given little time on the ball. Something that may have influenced Wenger's decision was Flamini's performance on Wednesday night, I believe I mentioned in my match report how he was marauding into space created by Arsenal's tricky wide players, and that proved to be exactly the case with the first goal.

The second goal saw probably the most deserving goalscorer of the season. Toure was magnificent all game, anticipating Crouch's knockdowns, beating him in the air and generally making him look like the second rate numpty he is. Incidentally, Crouch's offside goal has to be the most stupid passage of play I've seen in years. How can an international striker be looking along the line in anticipation of a cross and stand two yards offside when it was patently unnecessary? To deflate my already low opinion of Crouch, he then conspired to wheel away and celebrate then look surprised to see the flag erect. Idiot. Gallas also dealt brilliantly with the threat of the Mark Hughesque Dirk Kuyt. Something I notice about Gallas is that he rarely makes tackles. He stands off and generally closes off the player's options, then uses the moment of hesitation to rob the opponent of the ball. This would explain why he receives few yellow cards and concedes few penalties. He dropped off of Kuyt and anticipated any threat brilliantly and the result was that, for all his class, Kuyt was feeding on scraps all afternoon. But a lot of the credit for the second goal must go to Gilberto Silva. Allow me to elaborate. Early in the second half, Kolo had possession at centre half to find a wall of yellow blocking off all his options. Gilberto verbally instructed him to move forward, as Gilberto slotted in at centre half. Two minutes later, Kolo goes forward- 2-0. This is a glimpse of what the Brazilian gives us and what an intelligent, selfless player he is. He recognised that Kolo would be better at carrying the ball forward than him, so he dropped into centre half. Spotting a falability in the opponents and in himself, conversely, elucidates his strength.

The return of Emmanuel Eboue also proved critical and gave an insight into how badly he has been missed. I cannot believe how much his crossing has improved in such a short space of time and his marauding runs forward gave us a dimension that has been lacking in recent weeks. His piece of control on the touchline following a wayward Gilberto pass is sure to feature in the end of season 'showboating' compendium. I think everybody had a really good game for Arsenal yesterday, Henry is clearly some way off his best form, but the effort was there for all to see and that is all I will ever ask. Robin van Persie looks to be settling in well on the left hand side and I still believe he can be a valuable weapon there. van Persie was in the mood yesterday, creating several dangerous situations and generally roasting Steve Finnan. The Gunners joy was complete when Gerrard left Gallas completely unmarked to head in the third. But of course, that was John Arne Riise's fault.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday November 13 2006

Time: 10:11AM

Your Comments

A cracking day. I'm starting to enjoy the Emirates experiece. If only everyone could have stayed until the final whistle to salute the boys and Spurs had conceded a couple more it would have been a perfect Sunday. Hey Ho.
hatespur
Stevie is the best player in the world, england's best player, and this article is rubbish, hahahaha, he is just too over rated as you said, and i get stick from my mates when i say this, because they remind me of the champions league final everytime, that's one thing you can't take away from him, but the guy bottled the world cup from twelve yards, and he just isn't the player he used to be earlier, when the chips would be down, he would be the one to lead by example, and now he just doesen't do that anymore..
luckys_10
you know hatespur, i was watching the match on tv, and for the first 25 minutes, the way the game was going, i felt kinda depressed, for the first time this season i was missing highbury, the grove is great, but i just felt it would never be like how highbury used to be. and then suddenly we score, and we score one more and we're 2-0 up, and controlling the match, and suddenly that feeling just went away, it's all about winning i guess, if the lads keep winning, nothing else will really make a difference..
luckys_10
Tim, you forgot to give a mention to the superb Clichy who has not only come back from long term injuries but has put in the work ethic Ashley Cole would not even think about. The guy never stops running & whilst defensively he may still need a bit of work he is an all round better player than cashley (who is also english like gerrard & so therefore must be the best left back in the world).
Ashburton Gooner
I concur, Clichy was outstanding and I was desperate for him to score after that mazy run. The future of LB is in good hands with this guy.
Little Dutch
Yawn, here we go again!!!...lol
Cravens
What's that supposed to mean Cravens?
Rocky7
Not wrong luckys_10. I was bemoaning the fact whilst travelling to yesterday's game that the only game I had really enjoyed at the new stadium was Porto when boom, this one was better. I just felt before yesterday that extra bodies doesn't always mean more support, but hopefully yesterday proved me wrong. A great atmosphere, a great performance and a great win. And...did I mention that Spurs lost???
hatespur
Why is it all the so called pundits and experts have said he should play in the middle ? yes his own manager can't see it ? I thougth Zenden was a winger...have to agree, yesterday was superb !
PUREGOLD
what a bs article. hes played out of position for gods sake. How do you think fabregas would do on the wing ? pathetic article
TheBeast
Fabregas has played on the wing, and while he is better in the middle Fabregas still performed. Gerrard always fails to perform against the big teams, and please don't come back with look at the CL final, because he was poor.
Rocky7
Recon Stevie is just getting disillusioned with the Liverpool cause! Wishing he'd moved on when he had the chance!!! Joined Cheatski or gone abroad!!
BaldyYid
i must say this article sucks Gerrard is the best and i m an arsenal fan plz dont write articles this stupid, i just hope he joins us and we will have the Greatest Midfeild CEsC and SG wow Gerrard will come to his best just like henry is on the way to his best:D
afghenry
I think this is totally unnecessary. You thumped us 3-0 and put yourselves back in the title picture, isn't that enough? Why does this guy feel the need to have a pop at our captain as well, in his poorly writen piece? Great stadium by the way, but why don't they get some music playing before the kick-off, to get the atmosphere going?
bring back kenny
did u ppl see clichy backtrack kuyt when he thought he had beaten him and was away.. he cldnt believe that gael had such pace in him.. truly awesome.. saw henry backtracking.. that was good.. persie with a couple of assists.. and yeah.. spuds lost.. what better sunday?? perhaps a 3-0 thrashing of chelsea.. and yeah.. abt gerread.. he hasnt looked good all season.. we all know what he is capable of.. but yeah.. he looked more assured when hamann was in the pool side..
go4it_adi
i would most certainly not like Gerrard to play for Arsenal. We are trying to build a winning team in a certain style. Gerrard is a very conventional player who i've thought is overrated for a while now. In my opinion Xabi Alonso is by far the best Liverpool player..and while i do believe Gerrard is a good leader of men, Fabregas is a far superior talent and that is becoming increasingly more apparent.
Mikec
But beast, Gerrard has been playing in CM against the likes of Utd, Chelsea and us for ages and done nothing. If he is the great player evryone says he is, he will cope with a positional change. TH for example, is not a CM, but if you played him there I bet he's so a job. Bring back Kenny, I usually don't have a pop at opposition players without good reason, Gerrard's diatribe against Walcott pushed the envelope. I also find him to be a distasteful character. How many times did you see Gerrard in his own half defending yesterday? Never, which is a shame because he has the ability, just not the attitude.
Little Dutch
Even as a Gooner, and I don't even particularly like Stevie G, I think the article's a bit harsh. He did a job at RM last season and one match played RB and was still the best player on the pitch. But I think he's clearly agitated at not playing CM. Bad attitude and poor job yesterday, certainly, but Liverpool were pretty much all crap. How much can one man raise the team? Think about us against Bolton the last two seasons. The whole team was crap and gave up after they scored, including Vieira and Henry. Wenger built the team around Henry and Henry excelled. When the team was built around Gerrard, he excelled. But Benitez is finding it hard to get the balance right, building around Xabi. Gerrard does suffer without a proper DM, as Vieira did. Doesn't make him a limited player to rely on having the proper teammates around him.
Tripping
a good article in respect of the game..and yes gerrard does look a bit lost at present...bit like the team is playing....
ernshaw
I don't think Gerrard is a bad player, far from it. But the hype he receives generates this impression that he's the best in the world, and I think he is some way short. The fact is, Gerrard creates this hype himself, not many people know that he has befriended many journalists, many of whom, including Telegraph chief writer Henry Winter, wrote his autobiography. He is much better suited to a free role because he is unwilling to do a defensive job. He played CM against Galatasaray at Anfield and they were completely over run. Retaking up Beasts's point, if memory serves- and it does- in May 2005 when we beat Liverpool 3-1 at Highbury, Cesc played right wing and ran the show. Your point about Vieira is valid tripping, and that is why I agreed with the decision to sell him. The Vieira of years gone by never gave in, in his last season apathy seemed to become a staple of his game.
Little Dutch
You could also say I dislike his comments about Theo, to make a 17 year old take the flak for your own bad performances is very cowardly. It also irks me that when he has a good game on the right, everyone says how brilliant and versatile he is. But when he puts in bad performances, it's always someone elses fault. Be it Lampard, Benitez, right wing, Walcott, Eriksson or the Liverpool side.
Little Dutch
like most english players overrated,and over here! i remember spud supporters on their high horses about how great they are cos they got sooo many english players,and how shamefull we are cos we have none in the forthcoming english friendly,how i laughed when they got beat yesterday,and even more amusing is all those spud english players withdrawing from the squad,and whats ironic now,is that all those spurs fans are saying how crap their team is,and that they should buy this foreign player and that foreign player.its true though,at the world cup this year most of the english players let themselves down,none of them played for arsenal,thank god,and i cant think of one foreign arsenal player who didnt perform better than that other lot with 3 lions on their shirt
fran merida
Typical Gerrand, looking for a demon to blame for every misfortune.
SWPACIFIC
The king is BAk! King KOLO KOLO toure.
Youngest in Charge
You're right, LD, he does need to take some responsibility himself, instead of disgracing himself by blaming Walcott, etc. That one was particularly irksome. And as you say, as Vieira's heart didn't seem to be in it, Gerrards' doesn't either. So we're in agreement then, after all.
Tripping
 

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