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

Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1

So the anguish, the fretting, the chewing of nails and the screaming yourself hoarse with invective is back, along with the delight of poetic justice playing out yards from your face. Someone whom I have known on the away match circuit for some years now moved into my flat last week, so the journey to North London to board the coaches and reacquaint with old compardres felt that little bit more significant. Arrangements were made over the summer to group away scheme memberships with people we travelled with often, meaning an impenetrable line of seven will now be forced to endure me at away games for another season at least. Conversation was typically surreal on the journey Northbound; with baked bean and custard pie fetishists discussed in detail. Whilst we also mused upon the difficulties Spurs` Champions League qualifier opponents Young Boys must have in a marketing sense; ("Follow Young Boys on twitter" hardly screams good advertising).

The first eagerly anticipated checkpoint of the afternoon arrived when the warm up confirmed that Almunia had correctly been given the nod over Fabianski in goal; despite whispers to the contrary on the blogosphere. Jack Wilshere was handed his first league start in a midfield three with Nasri and Diaby, whilst Chamakh and Koscielny made their full debuts. Arsenal began the game well, taking the game to their hosts, who had made good on the promise of a free role for fly chewing new boy Joe Cole. After four minutes, Gerrard`s hack on Eboue saw Arsenal awarded a free kick from 25 yards, Nasri teed up Vermaelen, whose left foot exocet stung Reina`s palms. Though Arsenal were running the game possession wise, they found a cutting edge difficult to come by, a long range sighter from Gael Clichy whistled narrowly over the crossbar as Liverpool constructed a Maginot line in front of their area which Arsenal could not penetrate. It took Liverpool more than half an hour to mount an attack of any great note, when a long clearance saw Jovanovic find a worrying amount of space in the centre circle, allowing him to drive at the heart of the Arsenal defence, but he dragged his left foot shot horribly wide. But the attempt warmed Liverpool cockles and sparked them into life, Johnson exchanged a one two with Kuyt on the edge of Arsenal`s area; Arshavin`s refusal to track back leaving Clichy hopelessly exposed, but Almunia turned Johnson`s left foot drive over the bar. From the resulting corner, David N`Gog met Gerrard`s delivery with a firm header which Clichy cleared off the line as the sun beat relentlessly down on our faces in the Anfield Road End.

The occasion soon reached a temperature to compliment the sunshine on the stroke of half time; Koscielny cleared his lines next to his own corner flag and Joe Cole leapt in with a challenge. Though I don`t think Cole intended to do Koscielny any harm, the tackle was high and reckless and deserving of a red card. The rules state a challenge is worthy of a red card if the tackle is "reckless or likely to cause injury" ergo, Cole had to go. The Liverpool fans did not like the decision and voluminously booed Koscielny`s stretcher as it was taken down the tunnel. In truth; I didn`t much see an advantage for us in the sending off of Joe Cole, I don`t rate him as a player anyway and his effect upon the game to that point had been minimal, if you`re going to go down to ten men, always best to have the man in the free role receive his marching orders as it does little to affect that shape of your team.

As the players emerged for the second half, we discovered Koscielny had been fit enough to continue. Meanwhile, Reina was given some deserved stick from the Arsenal fans behind him; a few chants containing some offensive language were aired, whilst a gloating airing of "Still got Cesc Fabregas" hammered our point home. But it was Liverpool who were laughing within seconds of the restart; a struggling Wilshere was rocking back on his heels on the edge of his own area as Arshavin`s pass whistled past him. Mascherano seized upon the loose ball and played into the channel to the alert N`Gog, he smashed the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle. I`ve yet to see any highlights so I don`t know if the criticism of Almunia in the goal`s concession is justified, I certainly didn`t get the impression he was at fault from some 90 yards away. But any goal Arsenal conceded was automatically going to be his fault, that was decided some weeks before this game kicked off. The aftermath saw Liverpool begin to control the game as though it were Arsenal carrying a one man deficiency, though they only really threatened once in a period which saw Arsenal pinned back into their own half. Dirk Kuyt nutmegged Clichy, only to find nobody attacking his low cross across the six yard area.

The manager had seen enough and threw on Walcott and Rosicky for the ineffectual Eboue and Wilshere, who had looked out of his depth at this stage of his development. Rosicky immediately brought a direction and assertiveness previously missing in Arsenal`s slow motion passing. Indeed, it was the Czech`s cross which saw Vermaelen tower above Agger only to head wide. Then Arsenal won another free kick on the edge of the box, after a couple of failed daisy cutters from Nasri, Walcott took charge and it`s obviously a technique he`s worked on having hit some good free kicks on pre season. This one arrowed towards the far corner only to see Reina acrobatically turn it aside. Both sides took turns to wield their concealed weapons; the fatigued World Cup Final duo of Torres and van Persie entered the fray, the former receiving a rapturous reception from the home support who had been hitherto very quiet indeed. Liverpool understandably sat deeper as the Gunners struggled to penetrate; with Chamakh lacking support at times and Arshavin playing with the manner of a man who would really rather have been anywhere else in the world. But in the last five minutes, with van Persie`s presence making the ball stick in vital areas for longer, the Gunners began to beat the door down.

Rosicky played the ball into Chamakh, who protected the ball before nudging it back to Rosicky, a beguiling switch of feet took him past Carragher before sending a curling shot towards goal which Reina tipped over. It was exactly the sort of incisive play we could have done with when we were dominating the game in the first half. With six strikers now on board, the visitors began to throw everything forward, Clichy`s left wing cross looked to have crept out of play, but van Persie was alert and kept it alive; hooking the ball back into the six yard area; there was an almighty scramble, but Walcott could not force the ball over the line as Liverpool defenders threw themselves into the path of the goal. But it was a case of third time lucky as the clock struck 90; Rosicky tossed a cross into the area, Chamakh pressed Reina into a fumble, the ball limply struck the post before ricocheting back off Reina and clumsily over the line. The goal showed that, with Rosicky`s assertiveness and Chamakh`s aerial presence, there is presence of an envelope marked 'Plan B.` But more importantly, it showed that sometimes, poetic justice can be a beautiful thing. After his act of Barca bum licking in July that showed enormous disrespect to his opponents, that Reina fumbled comically into his own net a matter of yards away from the gathered Arsenal fans was, well, it was just beautiful. I cannot remember ever celebrating such a crucial goal with laughter. The unforgiving chorus of "Reina, you`re a c***, Reina, Reina you`re a c***" just sealed his misery. Meanwhile, I am trying to get a handle on the reaction had Arsenal been leading 1-0 yesterday only for an Almunia own goal to level the scores at the death.

Liverpool laid siege on Arsenal`s goal in injury time; Koscielny saw yellow for a foul on Kuyt on the edge of the area, Almunia repelled Gerrard`s subsequent free kick. A flurry of corners were resisted, but the Gunners were themselves reduced to ten at the death as Koscielny was shown a second yellow for a deliberate handball. It appeared harsh from my perspective, but not the most scandalous red card of all time. Though there was advantage to be had from Koscielny`s handball it did not appear deliberate enough to warrant sanction. But the referee was probably keen to sate bloodthirsty locals. In the end, a draw was probably a fair result and a satisfying enough one. We were forced to throw in two new boys and deprived of our two most important players against a team with a new manager. Rust is still to be expected at this stage and both sides showed it at various points. We missed Song`s ability to pick up loose balls when we were under pressure at the beginning of the second half and it goes without saying that we missed Cesc`s creativity. His absence made Arshavin`s limp performance all the more disappointing given the extra responsibility on him. Wilshere showed he is still not quite ready to be a starter yet; Rosicky`s willingness to drive at Liverpool`s defence gave us an extra dimension. To borrow the manager`s words after the game, the result was "decent." In the meantime, with reference to Reina, I am reminded of Thom Yorke`s drawl, "This is what you`ll get, when you mess with us."LD.

1.ALMUNIA©, 3.SAGNA, 6.KOSCIELNY, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 2.DIABY (10.v.Persie `79), 19.WILSHERE (7.Rosicky `61), 8.NASRI, 27.EBOUE (14.Walcott `61), 23.ARSHAVIN, 29.CHAMAKH. Unused: 11.Vela, 17.Song, 21.Fabianski, 28.Gibbs.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 16 2010

Time: 10:23AM

Your Comments

Nice work up LD. Great to back to watching Arsenal at the weekend and then your write up on a monday. Really enjoyed yesyerday and would have settled for a point before kick-off. However, the half time feeling was that we would go on and win it. Still, there's nothing wrong with a last minute equaliser. I was up the other end of the ground and presumed that Chamakh's header had hit the post and rebounded off Reina. I didn't realise what lengths Reina actually went to to make sure we equalised. Pepe, I will take that goal by way of an apology ! Just to make sure ALL of my threads beat up on Almunia, it was a decent finish yesterday, but it could have been avoided. I was behind Almunia's goal, and could see Almunia slowly leaving a bigger gap to his near post. My heart sunk as Ngog's mind was made up for him, and he smashed the ball in. I just wanted Almunia to guard that near post and make Ngog go across him. It would have been much more difficult to wrap his foot around the ball and beat Almunia across the goal from that distance. That said, we looked to be alot livelier when Rosicky came on, and Chamakh looked good all day. It was a pity for Koscielny that a ' daft ' second yellow spoiled a solid debut. So, a point taken from a ' tricky ' away game and now it's back to The Grove to welcome Blackpool. It would be nice if Cesc can join us for that game. It all depends on how his body is after recovering from 87 minutes of World Cup action a month ago.
Cockney Rich
I think the way we performed in the second half was so similar to the limp and lacklustre performances of the end of last season that it enraged me so much that I forgot that this is the first game of a new season, and in a world cup year they will still be rusty. That's not to say I'm not still worried by what I saw from some players, but after a good nights sleep it's more understandable this morning.

Positives - I thought Koscielny was excellent, positions himself really well, great in the air, faster than I thought too. We dominated the first half without 3 of our most critiical players, 2 of them being amongst the best in the world in their positions. Theo Walcott is slow but surely proving what an asset he is to the team. He can be monumentally frustrating at times, but the fact is he makes things happen. Negatives - The tackle on Kos was a massive warning to how scarily thing we are at the back. My brother in law was asking which defender bring on if he didn't come back out, I told him we don't have anyone, he laughed and said "seriously, who've you got?" I said seriously, we don't have any more defenders and we'd have to use Song for the time being. He was stunned. Goalkeepers, I won't harp on any further about them other than to say, despite how debatably it was whether he was at fault or not, the fact that we have to have this discussion after every game just goes to show how mediocre he actually is. Sad to say that he's still the best option to face Blackpool next week.
Very scrappy poi9nt against ten men - no real grit or spirit evident - another trophyless season seems inevitable.
A brief glimpse of life without Cesc. Oh dear.
Clive 49
The only thing inevitable on this board is that willy will open his Xavi sized mouth and chat drivel. Instant karma will get you willy - just look at what happened to Reina. Still laughing!
Yes Clive - as always, even when we're not playing well we're still above you in the table.
Only the inferiority complex ridden Spurs fans would see a draw at Anfield that puts us above them after one game as some kind of reason to gloat.
Little Dutch
I bet every Spud was watching our game yesterday, drooling at how we move the ball. Oh, and only 1 game into the new season it's already the same old routine. We are above Spuds in the league and all the VS morons are flocking to VA.
Cockney Rich
Instant Karma's gonna get you - and spuds and mancs have yet to go to Anfield. Them waving their willies here means we just get to laugh at them twice, firstly at their delusion over the size and then at its performance. It's often better to watch the replay when you know the result when you're stripped of the anxiety over the outcome. We played pretty well - lacked a cutting edge and were a little too predictable in creativity, remedied to a degree when Rosicky and RvP joined in, but were more solid in defence then some feared. We won't know until a little further into the season whether it was a good result of not but I feel it might be a better point than we imagine.
A draw at Anfield is always a good result (and all of us up there yesterday were happy with it)! If you look at the experience level of our midfield against theirs (Mascherano/Gerrard/Cole) the fact that we still dominated possession in the first half was telling. Granted... we didn't create enough clear cut chances, but Chamakh is still learning the system. If RVP was fully fit and playing the pivot role, the movement would have been a lot more fluid going forward.
I neglected to mention that Samir Nasri has a new chant, which may have come over on the tellybox. To the tune of "Baby Give It Up", you have to be a bit cheeky and add a rogue syllable into "Nas-er-i", but it got everyone going. Nice to hear a different tune being used anyways.
Little Dutch
I must admit LD I'm pleased to have something different from the Super, super Sam chant. Too many players have been sharing that. Well played to whoever started that one.
LD, I chuckled to myself in The Kop as that tune drifted over towards us. Thought he had a good game yesterday little Nasri, although there were occassions where I felt that he either held onto the ball too long, or missed a chance to play it wide. Apart from that, he's looking good.
Cockney Rich
Yup Nasri definetilty the one you want fit.TBH some of his ball control amazes me.Not flamboyant but clever touches to get space.I think Kieran should be ahead of glichy performed admirably last season.Arshavin can create something out of nothing so Im guessing thats why he stayed on but damn where was he?
Good write up, as ever. I was encouraged to see Wenger making changes in the 62nd minute as he normally leaves it till later. Theo has his faults but he looks really sharp and is perfect as a sub. Whether the goal was his fault or not, Almunia still doesn't inspire confidence as he flapped at a couple of crosses/corners. I was impressed by Koscielny though. If he gets some strength training done, he could be the real deal.
Been waiting a long time for my LD match report fix! Anyone else think Blackpool is going to be a lot harder than most gooners are presuming it will?
Chipo - good question that. Personally, I think Blackpool will take the lead and we will scrape up a LATE equaliser. Remember where you heard it first mate ! Our second 1-1 draw of the season unfortunately.
Cockney Rich
Reina got exactly what he deserved for his part in the Cesc to Barca debacle over the Summer. As for the next game, Blackpool will really be up for it at the Emirates. I expect us to win but I think Blackpool will really give us a game. Ian Holloway coming to the Emirates will be very interesting. One of the most humourous characters in football.
Good result, considering we were without Song, Cesc and RVP. Our defence looked solid and Koscielny had an impressive debut. I'm not sure he needs to build up his muscles as carrying extra weight could slow him down. He reminds me of Carvalho- quick, agile, and very competitive if not the most physically imposing. Chamakh didn't play so well, lost pretty much all of the aerial battles with Carragher and Skrtel. I'm sure he'll improve as the season progresses. Hopefully AW will sign a couple of players before the end of the month and then I think we can do better than last season at least.
The thing that makes me confident is that Holloway will come out attacking. If we can handle a possible barrage of flying tackles and pumped up northerners for 15mins and get a breakaway goal then we can hammer them. If we can't then it will be Hull mk.II
The common tactic clubs are using against us now (other than kicking us) is to sit back and catch us on the break. Man U and Chelsea have got this tactic down to a fine art so I don’t think that we “held on to possession” well, I think we were allowed the ball only to be largely ineffectual with it. Our possession meant diddly-squat as most of it was across the field in front on their massed defence and we had few attempts on goal as a result. Liverpool’s attempts were few and far between as well, relying on the break away, but Ngog found our glass jaw and hereto last season’s pattern was duly re-established. I would prefer to see Gibbs at LB instead of Clichy who seemed flat footed at times. Arshavin, well, did he play yesterday? Kos was magnificent, particularly when Torres was in full flight, the ref was definitely trying to deflect some post match flak by sending him off for a ball to hand incident. Why didn’t the ref book Ngog for a blatant handball earlier and why did he not book Stevie Me for hacking down Eboue in the first half? Finally, Almunia seems to have problems with that sort of near post shot bearing in mind the CL games against Spain (they might as well be) last season. So, come on down Shay Given.
Sir Henry
Chamakh just voted Man Of The Match vs Liverpool on Who ARE these people??!?! Is it just some demented 8yr old Moroccan kid on summer holiday spending his entire evening clicking CHAMAKH CHAMAKH?
Almunia makes difficult chances and decisions alot easier for the forward. Ngog ? " Here you are mate. I've left a massive gap at my near post, so you don't have to go across goal now ". Ibrahimovich ? " Wait there a minute. I know your running out of space, but I'll come charging out so you can lob me ".
Cockney Rich
I think with the balls the way they are now, the days of saying "protect your front post at all costs" are gone. It's so easy to get swerve on a ball now to get it into the far corner that it makes sense for a keeper to take a more central position. You only have to watch free kicks nowadays, not long ago a keeper would build a wall one side and go and stand on the other side of the goal, now he has to be more central as it's not a difficult skill to get whip and curl on a ball. Still haven't seen it again, but I have to say that the finish from N'Gog was excellent, he smashed it and I wouldn't expect a keeper to stop it necessarily. Had he stopped it I would have called it an outstanding save. A little credit to the striker here for me, but I will watch it again wth an open mind toniught. If we're honest with ourselves, if Schwarzer is making his debut yesterday and concedes that goal, nobody even talks about it.
Little Dutch
You're probably right re Schwarzer LD - But that's because we haven't seen him making the same mistakes over and over. If he does come and makes the same errors all the time, I'm sure he'll be in for the same treatment.
If we watched enough Fulham/ Boro games down the years, we would have seen more than Almunia has ever made.
Little Dutch
You boys are in for a tough, tough season - you can see there is th usual no grit in the team - one bit of adversity and as usual with Wenger sides - the white flag comes out.
Not sure about a white flag wswilly3. However, I do remember seeing one at the Spuds v Portsmouth FA Cup semi-final. I remember laughing so much that I nearly wet myself.
Cockney Rich
A last minute equaliser is quite the white flag indeed.
Little Dutch
I would also point out that it's good to see the trait for scoring late goals is undiminished, quite a record we have of late goals. I often wonder if Arsenal are simultaneously the fittest and most fragile team in the league? I've often thought our players are highly tuned, enabling them to outlast opponents in games and keep going when opponents have faded physically. But that also makes them more prone to twangs. Is there a trade off worth making between less late goals but a better bill of health? It's a toughie.
Little Dutch
What's the injury records of ex-Arsenal players with their new teams? If they are spending less time on the treatment table then there might be something in that LD.
Sir Henry
I agree entirely with that assessment LD, and it's something I've consider before too. I think if needed our players could play 180 minutes all in one go, no bother. Until someone touches them and all their muscles fall to pieces and we never see them again.
I should like to register my mild amusement at Amos's oblique reference to the male carnal mechanism in order to describe the entirely innocent ribbing recieved from my Tottenham compadres. Allow me to 'extend' (giggle, giggle) the metaphore by giving way to the erudite and culturally enlightened Ron Atkinson, as a means by which to elucidate Arsenal's rather impotent (s*******) display at Anfield: 'nice balls, no penetration'. Let's hope Wenger's adolecent acne laced young spunk bucket doesn't climax prematurally once again, leaving the swooning, but ultimately unsatisfied 'lady' at Ashburton grove feeling sexually jealous in the presence of the fertile, manly, hairy-chested lothario from White HOT lane.
Tony Rocky Horror
So many words to say nothing at all TRH. How much penetration did you manage at WHL at the weekend then? The metaphor doesn't really work in the circumstances - especially so when you haven't been able to satisfy your cravings for 50 years. You try so hard in own your juvenile way but the harder you try the sillier you show yourself to be.
Oh, right. Hey, let's shake and make up. After all, we have much in common. Both our managers are looking forward to teaching young boys a lesson.
Tony Rocky Horror
Yeah its not time for you to play with the big boys yet......better warn slippery 'arry to stay away from his bankers while he's over there - I think the taxman has got his eye on him.
It was a decent show. I was ok with the creativity, without Cesc and being the start of the season, although Nasri could have done more. Rosicky did exactly that, when he came on. As for Almunia, he was not to blame for the goal, but his performance otherwise was the same - flapping uselessly at corners, and inspiring no confidence at all.
There were legitimate complaints to be had about Almunia's performance yesterday, but the goal is not one of them. He flapped at a corner and other than that he wasn't troubled too much. The ball was struck absolutely perfectly by Ngog and Almunia did well to get a hand to it.
I really hope the Shay Given rumours are true . I am confident Wenger is looking for a new keeper I'm just not sure whether he'll manage to do so. Shay Given would be an improvement on Almunia unlike Schwarzer, Given is on par with Reina, but not as good as VDS and Cech.
Shay Given is awesome & would basically be 6-8 extra points a season for you, i hope Wenger keeps the faith in your current lot!
If City won't sell Bellamy to Spurs, why would they sell Given to the Arse?
Clive 49
Not really impressed with either Given or Schwarzer but maybe it's better to make a change since our current defense obviously has no faith in either Almunia or Fabianski. But I have doubts about either keeper's ability to organize and command a defense. Hate to put a downer on things but I went into that game yesterday feeling strangely indifferent and still feel that way. Not impressed with our pre-season or yesterday's game in the least. Maybe it's due to the lingering impact from our last couple of games last season but since then I've been less than enthusiastic, just feel jaded and worn down hoping to see some spark, some edge in this team. I thought I'd whip up my typical enthusiasm at the start of the season once it finally started but nope, I didn't, and any chance of my doing so was destroyed while watching that lackluster performance on Sunday. Without Cesc we just look totally clueless, aimless and leaderless--and even sometimes when he's on the pitch we look that way.
Why is Almunia's name copyrighted?
I'm frankly amazed at the negativity around, we drew away at Liverpool (I remember not long ago when the best we could hope for was to lose by two goals) without our two best players. We have twice the amount of shots on goal as them, 58% possession and more corners, yet still people whinge. For *****'s sake, I really think our supporters deserve absolutely ***** all sometimes.
Little Dutch
jaelle, I think one can relate with what you are saying. Almost all gooners are now connected 24/7 to the internet in the summer break debating points and dissecting the previous season, checking up on transfer rumours, analysing the squad's short comings, checking pre season games - basically there is no off season anymore is there? When there is virtually no off season and one is always clued in, a lot depends on the energy (positive or negative) being dissipated through one's interactions online. More than 3/4ths of our blogs and bloggers have mostly taken a highly negative line before the start of this season. Analysis of Arsenal related matters has changed to micro analysis now with the popularity of twitter with its one or two line soundbites.

Soundbites which judge players, managers and clubs with just a punchline. We can obviously form our own conclusions on what views of bloggers stand up to scrutiny and which do not but the overall energy the body receives from these interactions is deeply negative. I am feeling jaded as well.
Delta, you have a point about there being no real "off" season in the summer for fans, what with blogs and constant coverage in the media. Ok, LD, I'm spoiled. I'm not complaining about the DRAW. I actually expected a draw, I doubted we'd win but didn't think we'd lose. I'm talking about the performance. Yes, we were w/o our best player, exactly. Amazing how dependent on Cesc we are for ideas, for ugency, tempo. What's going to happen when he leaves next summer? The negativity comes from not seeing our squad substantially strengthened, going into the season with 10 players injured, with 2 wks left in the transfer window and with more teams in the PL looking like real contenders. Glad we got a draw, didn't expect anything more or less. Just don't feel like I've seen anything to cheer about or be hopeful about.
I'm feeling very optimistic, even if we do concede as many goals as we did last season we have a better attack this term. RVP surely won't miss 5 months out again, Chamakh looks superb, and Bendtner returning from injury. I think I got a man-crush on Chamakh, he gives me a buzz everytime I see him on the pitch. He chased down every ball against liverpool and he still had the fight and hunger to challenge reina in 90th minute of the game. Lets not forget Hodgson was the man in charge of a team we were lucky to beat at Craven Cottage and this time he had much better team to work with. The doom and gloom is very misplaced. I also feel we didn't get to see the best of Nasri because he didn't have Denilson or Song partnering him. Whenever Cesc plays well, its always those too that allow him to do so. Diaby wasn't terrible but you can see that he is not naturally a defensive minded player.
grone, I've liked Chamakh for a couple of yrs now, he's a signing I'm very happy about. Was also impressed with Koscielny, despite all the pre-game trashing of him as lightweight. Thought he defended against Torres pretty well for his first game. Also, despite the goal and Song's absence, and a very untried CD pairing, I thought we defended well. I hope to and want to re-discover my enthusiasm.
Also, it appears that AW will ONCE AGAIN waste Arshavin on the wing where he clearly is crap and just isn't up to the league's rigors.
It was a decent result and a decent performance, no more, no less. The problem is now that Arsenal supporters have reached such levels of hysteria, that players and performances are judged before we play. If we win= o.k. Anything else= unbelievably awful and everyone responsible should be shot and it was the keeper;s fault more than most. It's tiresome to the point that Arsenal fans are beginning to ***** me off more than Spurs fans.
Little Dutch
There was that instant where Torres sped past Kos but he had the pace to catch up with him. I think the lightweight reference comes from the fear of players like Drogba but I just think Drogba is unplayable, Mourinho seems to have figured out a way though. It was also a bit of a snub that Wenger chose to play Walcott off the striker instead AA. But he'll come good, I'm sure of it. I love that little Russian.
Way to go LD - I feel much the same way about sections of our support at times. Nothing and no-one should be above criticism but for heaven's sake it should at least make some attempt to be proportionate.
Given would do well surely you'd be interested in a loan spell?
I think it's a little harsh to blame Almunia for that goal - it was a cracker and most keepers wouldn't have stopped it. Having said that, his positioning was slightly off, probably just enough to prevent him from stopping it. These are small margins we are talking about, but really that's the difference between a reasonably good keeper like Almunia and the type of top-class keeper that we really need.
As much as I would like to have either Given or Schwarzer (or both! Why not?) instead of Almunia, I feel like both of them hae their flaws. Great shot-stoppers (particularly Given), but both have been labelled as a little suspect when coming off their line. Would either have stopped Ngog's shot yesterday? Hard to say. I would take Reina anyday, even considering yesterday's fumble.
Arshavin did have a ' quiet ' game on sunday, by his standards. I read an article regarding his appearance for Russia in mid-week. He had such a bad game that he was booed by large sections of the crowd, and was by all accounts slaughtered in the Russian media. The little magician admitted that he didn't play well, but more worringly, he complained of still feeling soreness in his ' troublesome ' right thigh. He really doesn't feel fully fit, and says that he hasn't done so for a few months. It seems as though it's preying on his mind and his performances are more subdued than normal. The Arsenal medical staff say that AA is 100% ' fine ' and free of any injury. Unfortunately, there is clearly something troubling the little Russian, and we need to get to the bottom of it.
Cockney Rich
Arshavin is sometimes really lazy and just wals through games. It irritates the hell out of me seeing him misplace a pass and then compound it by not tracking back to defend. How many times was Clichy exposed down our left hand side?? I do remember Kuyt getting through once and then a Johnson shot. The guy just performs in spurts. One moment, he'll light up the arena and the next he will give the ball away and run less than a tortoise with its backside on fire.
Chelsea 24/7, Citeh are not loaning/ selling players to any team they regard as competition. There is almost no chance of them loaning Given to us.
> Eboue=GOD, then maybe there is something in AA's comments that he "doesn't feel fit ". There is no doubt that he is an important player for us. He gives us ' something ' that no one else can in our squad. If he says that he's still feeling his injury, then it would probably explain his recent poor performances ? It is something that he MUST address with our medical team.
Cockney Rich
You got a point delta especially since they shipped bellamy to the championship.I thought you were supposed to sign Marchetti,what happened?
My frustrations from Sunday came from a feeling of deja vu with Arsenal dominating possession, struggling to create very much and conceding a sloppy goal. It’s a pattern that is so familiar that I’m not surprised people are feeling tired. When Koscielny was stretchered off it re-emphasised how short we are at CB and my mind drifted to the closing of the transfer market in a couple of weeks and the perceived lack of activity. I accept that this was Anfield and I would have been happy with a point at the start but with Liverpool down to ten men and Koscielny back for the second half, I thought we could (should) go on to win the game. But characteristically we concede a classic “Arsenal” type goal, silly errors at the back followed by strike on goal that you would think other ‘keepers might save. Our attacking talent would be under less pressure if it wasn’t frequently trying to make up for our defensive shortcomings and we should not be starting the season without these issues resolved. I am full of energy for the coming season; we have a very talented squad capable of winning the EPL and/or CL through playing exhilarating football. However, I don’t want to see that potential go to waste because of some administrational lethargy behind the scenes.
Sir Henry
As a set of fans we are once again labouring under the illusion that the transfer market has been a hive of activity in which we have been bystanders. Nobody is buying players en masse bar Citeh. This interview refutes any suggestion of administrative idleness I keep hearing the criticism that we couldn't break Liverpool down, but firstly, nobody seems to be able to suggest just how it is you breach a row of nine men on the edge of the area (particularly when you are without your two best creative players). A cross in the box you say? Well how did the equaliser come about? Fact is, we had 12 shots to Liverpool's 6, so why is nobody asking why Liverpool couldn't create chances against us? Because they would be forced to admit that maybe we defended quite well? No, no that won't do, we are rubbish in defence don't you know.
Little Dutch
I was critical of Almunia on sunday. I thought that he could have made Ngog work alot harder for his goal. However, I watched the whole game back last night, and thought he done well. We were caught out at the back by the boys trying to pass their way out of trouble. The ball was nicked from us, and almost instantly, Ngog was in. Almunia was caught cold and it was, to be fair, a class finish. We were solid on sunday, given the personnel on duty. With two debutants and young Jack up against quality opposition, we took the game to Liverpool, even before Cole's red card. Without doubt, we would have won with Cesc on the pitch. We missed his ' brain ' and we missed his ability to drive us forward and be slightly more direct. In the cold light of day, we played well and clawed an equaliser that we fully deserved. A lot of teams will lose at Anfield, and it will be a difficult place for other sides to go, later on in the season.
Cockney Rich
It wasn't a massive mistake by Almunia, infact on it's own, it's nothing, it's just that couple with every other little mistake he makes every week ... it all adds up. As for the entire performance, it wasn't that bad really. Away at Anfield against a 9-0-1 formation. I was annoyed at the time, (and still am to some extent as to the percieved laziness of AA and Diaby) but for the first game of the season without one of the best strikers and the best midfielders in the world, it's not too shabby really.
My gripe is about what I consider to have been our problem for a long time, which is a matter of defensive emphasis as well as personnel. The last three seasons have seen us develop a style of play that has attacking flair and defensive frailties mercilessly exposed by Man U and Chelsea. I am assuming that, from his comments, Wenger has recognised this (I thought we all had) and his scouting network have identified potential targets to plug the gaps. However, over so many transfer windows it is frustrating that we haven’t yet got a solution in place at the start of what is probably the last season for Cesc Fabregas. Even with our prudent spending over this period, I just wonder whether the administrational side could be a little more aggressive in the political and financial negotiations that take place. I just wonder whether we have taken all the opportunities that have presented themselves.
Sir Henry
No, it hasn't been a very active transfer window, esp. with the 25-man rule hamstringing a lot of clubs. But that's not my main focus--my principal criticisms are as always focused on our training. Yes, it's difficult to break down a side that puts out 2 banks of 4 against us. That's just it. The modern game is one in which teams frequently put what is essentially 6 defenders on the pitch. It's what we saw at the wc. In S.Africa we saw even the most mediocre, talentless teams give the best ones a very difficult time and a couple even manged to nick a draw and even a win or two. That's what Arsenal are facing more and more, and I think this season it will be even more intense and more frequent. Which means that we have to prioritize tactics and skills to overcome these tactics: working hard on improving our crossing, widening our attack, extensive drilling in defending and scoring on set pieces. But so far in pre-season and at Anfield I've seen no evidence of any of this. We're still crap at crossing (at Anfield, Arsenal sent in 9 crosses and failed to find an Arsenal player on the other end each time), we're still too narrow in attack, and we still show no organization at set pieces. I don't see any changes. Yes, we've got a great new forward who's tall, great in the air and is good at linking up with the midfield. But if we can't even make one good cross after trying 9 times, he won't have much service to work with to use his aerial ability. You'd think that after almost losing our best player our priorities in training would've changed.
I'm also a little concerned by our reluctance to stretch play on the flanks a bit. That's the way we create more space in the middle. And if we could combine it with decent crossing who knows what could happen? Its only the first game, but to be honest I thought Liverpool were there for the taking. Cesc would have made the difference.
Wyn Mills
I think the absence of Cesc is an issue. We were too narrow for long periods of the game, the substitutions we made changed that. Walcott and Rosicky offered more variety to our play, we started putting crosses in and that's how we scored. We managed 12 shots on goal, so it's a bit disingenuous to suggest we created nothing. I think our attacking game is virtually beyond reproach, we always score somehow. My concerns would be much more to do with the defensive side of our game- which actually looked very good against Liverpool. Of all the teams we will face who will string bodies across their own area, Liverpool will be the best with the best players and they still couldn't stop us without Cesc and van Persie. At the beginning of the second half, I think we missed Denilson and Song's ability to pick up loose balls in the middle of the park. Liverpool kept picking up the bits and pieces and we had a sustained period of not being able to get hold of the ball. Teams the defend deeply more often than not got beaten by Arsenal and a point away at Liverpool- the trickiest fixture that will see us face this kind of play- is not at all bad. I think we need to wait and see how te United and Chelsea games pan out to see how this team has developed. If they get raped on the counter attack by those two again, they deserve heavy criticism. This game for me, although perhaps too early to say, revealed more positives than nagetives.
Little Dutch
I was impressed with Rosicky after he came on, before him & RVP started linking we were looking for flat and just not penetrating like we normally do. I thought Nasri has had a lot better games. Wilshere looked confident on the ball but you could also tell he's still never new to it all. Diaby offered nothing. We missed Song and Cesc definately and even Denilson in would've given us more midfield cover. But as LD mentioned you can't really be dissapointed with 1 point at Anfield with 3 key players missing (well, one missing the majority of the game). Also, it's well known and been mentioned many times, but Sagna's crossing is truly awful, it has to get better, people at amateur levels put in better crosses.

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