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Not Good Enough

I am afraid there is little encouragement to take from yesterday, unless it provokes a reaction that sees us grip third place. But third place did not look like an attractive carrot for a lot of our players and unless they shake that pathetic self pitying attitude, it will be fifth place and the ignomnity of UEFA Cup football that will await them. I was looking for a reaction from Arsenal after the eleven days from hell, I wanted them to show themselves and everybody else that it was a giant misfortune and that next season starts here, that we would be a force to be reckoned with next year. That reaction has not arrived as the team have enveloped themselves in self pity. These tumours are difficult to remove, once they set in they become malignant and we have our work cut out salvaging fourth place. Regardless of how luminous the prize is at the end of the season, when these players pull on an Arsenal shirt they have an obligation to care, particularly when 3,000 people make their fourth visit to Anfield this season to see them.

The Gunners lined up with Diaby on the left, presumably because Wenger felt that Gerrard would line up on the right hand side. However, Benitez rotated with one eye on PSV, Riise, Finnan, Bellamy, Sissoko and Kuyt were left out, while Gerrard lined up as a centre forward. Looking at Pool's line up, I felt we had a real chance. However, hope evaporated on four minutes. Clichy endured a terrible start to the match, when you're being ripped to ribbons by a player as average as Jermiane Pennant you suspect it's not your greatest day. Pennant back heeled Arbeola in superbly on the right and Crouch beat Toure to his low cross to toe end Liverpool into the lead. After an initial period of shock, Arsenal started to play thelselves back into the game. Denilson, seeing that Fabregas simply could not be bothered, got a grip on the game and the ball. Eboue began to probe down the right and Adebayor grappled manfully as the Gunners constructed a number of promising moves. Hleb also looked to involve himself, but ruefully just had one of those days where his decision making was sloppy. Arsenal almost worked themselves an opportunity when Baptista latched onto Toure's high ball, but just could not manouver himself around Daniel Agger.

For all of our promising forward play, bereft of Gilberto there was no protection for the back four. Fortunately, Gerrard did not really take advantage of being given the freedom of Merseyside to flaunt his 'talent.' Another no mark performance against a big club for Stevie Me (even when we played as awfully as we did yesterday). His sole contribution was a pathetic piece of histrionics, under a Diaby challenge which yielded no contact, he cavorted with the turf in mock agaony. A miracle cure arrived in the shape of a yellow card, at which point the fruadster got to his feet. The chant 'Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, he kisses the badge on his chest, then hands in a transfer request' reverberated around the Anfield Road End. A second arrived for Peter Crouch, Eboue did not close down Aurelio's awesome left wing cross and Crouch rose like a salmon to head home his pinpoint delivery. Ironically, Adebayor was presented with an identical chance moments earlier, but headed over. Chins rested firmly on chests at that point. The likes of Toure, Fabregas, Eboue (in fairness he lacked fitness), Clichy and Baptista were conspicuous by their absence and the aforementioned owe us an apology. Though Baptista did shoot wide from an Adebayor cross, it was a harder chance than it looked with the ball whipped across his body at pace. I don't know how Wenger deals with this, whether he tears a strip off them or gently reminds them that fourth is nowhere near in the bag, but I want to see big peformances from those players next week. Frankly, I think a period on the bench might be just as apt, but whether that will solve the problem I am not sure. Cesc was quoted as saying he was 'counting the days' until the summer this week, presumably he was counting backwards from three because I have seen more industry in economy class.

Gallas became something of a one man show at the back, rescuing a burnt out/apathetic Toure on innumerable occasions. Eboue and Clichy continued to watch Pennant and Aurelio float crosses in rather than prevent them. To me, it was painfully obvious that the marauding Diaby needed to be moved into the centre, as little pressure was being applied to the excellent Mascherano (though how was he not booked? Fabregas and Diaby committed one foul each and were both booked, Javier committed dozens). Gerrard tamely shot at Lehmann and Arsenal provided their first meaningful effort. Adebayor, presumably fed up with nobody else (Gallas and Diaby apart) coming close to matching his commitment, sought about doing something as his brilliant snapshot cannonned off the post. The game was well and truly over when a Pennant free kick (a debatable decision) was glanced in by Daniel Agger. The absence of Gilberto was painfully obvious as Liverpool exploited a back four lacking in height/fitness/understanding. Scouse minds drifted towards Tuesday and a brief geyser of hope emerged. Baptista's pinpoint cross was met with a firm header by Adebayor, but Reina tipped it brilliantly onto the post.

Arsenal did give the impressive away support something to cheer. Denilson's corner was flicked on by Toure, Reina brushed it to one side, only for Gallas to thigh it home from 'Lineker range.' Maybe this is our fox in the box, eh? Only Adebayor would have been a more deserving goalscorer. 'We're gonna win 6-3' rang out from the away end, and 'let's go ******* mental', we had to amuse ourselves somehow! Arsenal's play had more purpose, Ljungberg added some industry as they looked to capitalise on Liverpool's fleeting minds. Another goal would have made it very interesting. Another one duly arrived, but more poor defending saw it arrive at the other end. Pennant's side footed cross was narrowly missed by Gallas, and left Crouch to deftly turn Toure so expertly, that Toure's shirt ended up inside out, the elastic limbed Crouch fired the ball past Lehmann and the remainder of the game played out at an embarassing pace. The entrapy was concisely summed up by Fabregas, who quite deliberatley fired a thirty yard free kick high into the away end. As the final whistle sounded, Gallas and Denilson came over, the rest trudged off. Two players (two who actually tried as well) acknowledged the relentlessly enthusaistic support. Leaving home at 4am and shelling out £34 for a ticket all seemed to pay for itself. Cheers guys.LD.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 1 2007

Time: 12:49PM

Your Comments

Hey, thank some ghanese guy (i forgot his name).He "tackled" gilberto, outside of the pitch, of course the ref didn't do anything.Then gilberto started crying in pain, and they had to take him.Not the nicest thing to see.I think we had 2 or 3 injured on that game.
im guttted and disgusted to be honest, we havent been tonked like that in ages and it feels quite strange. no hunger no fight and i have a feeling cesc is getting way too big for his boots.
are both our swiss defenders injured or something coz i think toure has to take a break i wouldnt mind seeing them along gallas in the middle. our defense just wasnt up to the task this week. as for moving forward...dont know how much we can ask for without TH an VP and the midfield looks uninspired.
Wenger mentioned in the week that he wanted to take some of the young defenders out of the firing line and give them a chance to reflect. Personally, I think we have to concentrate on this back four gelling as a unit, but yes, Toure does need a break. It's a hard one to juggle, like I said, Wenger will need to call on all of his man management skill shere. If Gilberto is fot next week, I would drop Cesc and play Diaby in the middle. I would probably take Hleb out as well who is having a tough time recently, I think he blames himself for the PSV goal.
Little Dutch
Fabregas & Denilson should not play together in the 4-4-2 formation. They are too similiar. Both like to go forward & offer minimal protection to the back four. Also, we should not have played two attacking full back if we do not have enough steel in the midfield. I think the match explained itself why Gilberto was played in the CB position prior. His earial prowess and positional sense could have contained Crouch to a certain extend. It is better to play him there than not playing him at all. I dont have to say anything more on our defensive setpiece. I think Le Boss is trying to find the ideal combination for next season in the remaining matches. If that is the case, I have no complaint. Just hope that we keep an eye on the CL spot.
yeah hleb looks out of sorts and the fact that gallas singled him out to the press showed a lack of tact on his part and was very unarsenal like those are comments for the locker rooms if you ask me i wouldnt mind seeing him go some people dont know how to handle younger players and can only play with fellow superstars. i hope im wrong but more than once he has said something thats bad for team morale. everyone is responsible for that loss.
hleb shouldnt blame himself, it w as a silly FK to give away but suely the defence has to take some blame in not knowing how to defend set pieces. Hleb is leaving me confused, i like him as a player and i havent given up on him but he is having one of his worst spell at the moment, he is very inconsistent and he goes from looking like the best player in the world against bolton to looking like he hasnt a clue what hes doing.
Great write-up LD and its not on that they don't bother to acknowledge travlling fans. What mish says about Gallas underpins what's wrong with us - Gallas is too strong mentally for self-pitying, and although he flies too close to the edge with his comments, he exposes the fact that he wants his colleagues to grow the **** up and stop feeling sorry for themselves... this is the bit of grit our squad misses sometimes... Wenger has used the phrase "mental strength" before as he clearly acknowledges this is what's missing... Anyway for now, give Fab a rest I say and stick Gilberto with Diaby & Denilson along him in a 4-5-1.
Agree with your assessment Andy. Gallas is crucial to our side, his strong comments are what is needed, his attitude is needed. Yoou don't want a squad of Gallas's, because they'd be non stop arguing. But you definitely need one or two. I bet Gallas went into the dressing room and read the riot act and rightly so. I really think too many are prepared to believe Gallas is a troublemaker. That upsets me because Chelsea have achieved their objective and made his own fans doubt him. On gunnerblog last week, the writer got so *****ed off with this that he produced a literal translation of what Gallas had said to the French press and it was critical but not scathing (e.g he said he blamed himself for his injury absence). If these young players are to succeed, they need someone like Billy to show them what is needed. They've all got the talent, but a bit of an arse kicking from Gallas will help them. TH has said things in programme notes much worse and nobody complained, he should, like Gallas he is a leader and needs to tell it as it is. Gallas has always struck me as an angry upstart, so did Roy Keane. Nice guys finish last, Arsenal were nice yesterday, they were polite and reserved. If they had all played like Gallas we would never have lost.
Little Dutch
And I don't think Hleb is inconsistent, he's just having a bad patch at the moment. All players have them and Hleb has been so good this year that I can't fault him, his effort is still there and he still stands up to be counted. People just don't like him because he doesn't score, neither did Ray Parlour when he was our right winger but no such accusation was held against him.
Little Dutch
LD, JT himself told that silly billy was very agressive sometimes, at the dressing room , and he had to step up for him and his team mates.
Young team building for next season? 5 points ahead of Bolton with a game in hand CL looks asured next season.
4-1 :O you let the blue side of merseyside down boys...
Great win by liverpool, totally bossed aresnal all over the pitch.
That was the most ***** *****in' poor perfomance since Bolton away, maybe worse. *****in' horrible. i dont see why Rosicky didnt start, he is the only one of that midfield who has a natural drive forward. Toure and Cesc were horrible, both clearly need a break. LD i dont understand your unending support for Gallas, he was the best defender for the last 85 minutes of the game but was much more at fault for the first goal than Toure, he was *****in' nowhere to be seen, and this is supposed to be the experienced player, where was his positioning? His poor positioning on that moment gave us no chance for the rest of the match, Clichy may have got skinned but he has every right to expect his CB to be somewhere within 8 metres of the nearpost when that happens. He'll probably go have a sook now about how he has to score the goals to after stealing Ade's header. Still ***** weak and sometimes you just get the feeling that no matter how gifted these players are the just lack the speed of the attacking moves that both the invincibles and the 2002 double side had, something must be done about the speed at which we pass and the apeed at which our midfielders burst forward.
Ozi Gooner
jesus, gerrard doesnt score from his own half and everyone thinks hes a no show. Class player, hed be in your team every day of the week. and you played so *****e lol
Who wore the captain's armband?
Phantom of the Grove
Cesc doesn't need a rest. Toure does maybe but having been out for 3 matches is a decent amount of rest. Cesc attitude is worrying. He is becoming too big for his boots and I think he should be given more competition to not let him get complacent. Let Denilson run the show for a couple of games maybe and drop Cesc. As many people have said they are just too similiar to play together. It has to be Ces/Denilson with Diaby/Gilberto otherwise will not work unless its 4-5-1. Cesc has had 2 weeks rest in the international break because he was a unused sub. So I don not see why he needs a rest. He is just not bothered and is more worried about his holiday than anything else. I was so shocked when I saw Diaby on the left...why why why would you play a CM in a wide position with 2 wide players on the bench. Even thought Clichy is to be blamed for the crosses, I think its a little unfair to say he is ***** because before this game, he has been excellent this season. Anyways I think it was a one off kind of game and we already thrashed them 3 times so its only fair they do it to us once.
Ozis right about Rosicky. He should have started or at least come on a lot earlier for Hleb. I stand by Hleb, great skills that will never leave him but he seems to be very temperamental person so i fear that if/when he finds himself in a good spell of form, he wont ever be able to keep it. Gilbo cemented his importance to our squad without even being on the pitch and fabregas attitude needs to be harnessed, he def needs break before it starts to get the better of him. dito toure. What amazes me is that (granted, eboue not totally fit) yesterday was the first time (i think) this season that our first choice back four all played together, yet we were so severly punished by an average liverpool side, and that Dhalsim yoga-limb-extending creature they call a 'Crouch'.
Boys! It's all in danger of going pear-shaped!
id laugh if bolton finished 4th :D
OG, Toure was marking Crouch, it was his man. If Gallas would have pursued him, Gerrard was unmarked for the pull back. I'm gonna try and dig out Gallas' recent interviews and provide a literal translation OG, because he has said absolutely nothing untoward, the press have twisted his words to feed his reputation. Phantom, Lehmann was captain. Diaby began on the left because AW thoguht Gerrard would be on the right, it looked a decent enough decision, on current form I would have played Rosicky, but given Rosicky has been in trouble of late, AW thought it would be on his mind. I never said Clichy was *****, I rate him extremely highly and often say so in my reports, but he was awful yesterday. Rosicky should have been on a lot earlier and Diaby moved into the centre. takeabowson, Gerrard has NEVER produced anything against Arsenal, Man Utd or Chelsea, he is a fraud. Yesterday was our worst performance for some time, without Gilbo he had the freedom on the pitch and a dive was his sole contribution. I hope the greedy ***** skips off to Spain in the summer so I can stop hearing about how wonderful he is, how loyal he is for holding L'pool to ransom and how his dives are so full of guile. Never mind, he can always blame the nearest 17 year old.
Little Dutch
i think this gamedefinitely ends baptista chance on the starting line up............we shud play 4-5-1 with baps comin on late .............. i'd play bert,diaby,cesc/denilson,rosicky and hlenb in mid.........i think we hav to consistently play with that team 4 sometime..all is not lost folks......
But u know wen baps miseed those two chance i cudnt but help feelin that if we had thierry or rvp in our side we would hav scored............u know rvp is alot like ronaldo the way he can turn games around jus take a look at the watford away game......singlehandedly won the game 4 us ..i cant but help feel that match against man utd turned our season for the worse.....since almost all of my mates are man u fans i really wanted us to win dat game even at the expense of the season but now i kinda feel guilty
Im glad that the majority of Goons now realise & accept that they are actually in decline,not transition.Arsenil are crumbling,not building..!!Lose at WHL & it will be curtains for you "orrible" lot..!!
Title says all. The most fragile performance of the team in the entire year. Couldn't say at any point that we looked to win the match. One notable exception is adebayor. He deserved a goal if anyone. LD I think our formation is definitly 451. Since it will give some defense strength to the back four with Fab taking atleast a couple of weeks off. Bert in the holding position with Rosicky and Hleb operating on the right side with eboue. Denilson and Diaby on the left with clichy. I remember one of the earlier matches in the season where TR7 and Hleb were terrorizing the defence with their dazzling interplay. I would like to see that understanding gel in the rest of the matches. Both of them can come in and go wide at will so I think they would be a good way for us to go forward. Fabrigas has the most number of passes in the league, so it means the entire fulcrum of arsenal attack is him. In the matches where he doesn't perform, we need an alternate combination which will reduce the pressure on him. esp the one like rosicky and hleb.
surely baps is not going to be with us next season?
who do you prefer? Baptista or Reyes?
at the moment, i'd prefer joe pasquale! »»Arsene Knows««
Baps. has shown hes not a pussee like reyes.
if you had just dropped everyone else but kept adebayor, played rosicky and 9 prostitutes then you would have won that game!!! liverpool would have been outplayed by the PASSION alone!!! one of the prosties could have distracted the ref while the others could have marked crouch, gerrard and the keeper. Adebayor could have scored a double hattrick and you would have won 6-0. I blame *****er for not seeing the advantages of playing rosicky's prosties. I say fire le boss and appoint pleat. atleast he knows how to pick a prostitute!!!!
you were poor again imo u will not get champ league footy next year
I blame "w a n g e r"........
the mighty spurs have risen again... as every year they are on the up.
R U worried yet kiddies
No, but our kiddies certainly gave you a bit of a hiding, "2-0 and you *****ed it up." I think 4-5-1 has to be the way forward now.
Little Dutch
Good piece of maths from chalky, 14 pts better off than this time last year and somehow we are in decline. Mind you, I always felt Spuds lived in a parallel universe, just look at cosmic pete.
Little Dutch
thanks LD i was wondering what to say to the idiot (chalky). you fantasise about us in decline but thats not happening now or in the near future. inexperienced we are, invincibles we'll be again.
A completely spiritless performance, and I was very very disappointed. I wanted to see how I'd feel after 2 days and its only marginally better. Its a bit worrying, to be honest. A fit back 4 which was rare in our season and we let in 4 freakin goals !! No exuses for that, like they were playing together for the 1st time or crap like that. The defence was simply awful. It will take a little time to see the positives coz the nature of the defeat is tough to take.
mish, no need to think too long on replies to chalky and friends - usually the first thing that comes to your mind will be suitable - just make sure you use asterixes ffs - b*****ds ;-)
...and if anyone here sees that chalky around, please ask him what will happen if in fact we kick thier butts at WHL? This, combined with Everton leap-frogging them may well see the Spuds using the Intertoto as their only route to the UEFA cup... so no buddy, I can't wait to chalk one up against you ;-)
Chalky? All I can say is he must have been on the chalk this weekend. His mate cosmic pete must have provided him some crystal meth for the comedown.
Little Dutch
I did mention sometime ago that given we are injury free next season, there is no guarantee we will be doing well because players need time to gel. Also, unless we have 2 defensive midfielder sitting in front of the back four, playing both Clichy & Eboue at the same time would be a bit risky.
Arsenal fans, I wouldn't read too much into Saturday's game. Yes your play was poor, but it was only one game. Liverpool played badly against Aston Villa in their last game, and would've lost if they played against a better team. If Arsenal continue to play poor then I would be worried, but not after just one game regardless how badly they played in it.
poor poor poor, must try better, has alot of potential.. well thats my end of year report.. wenger won't let yesterday get them down, we played liverpool 4 times this year and won 3.. infact if you look at the table between the top 4, we have won the most games between manu,chelsea and liverpool.. we have lost ground to the smaller clubs this season. the summer can't soon enough and i think wenger will rethink what needs changing to make a big change on the league and cups next year, one thing if for certain, he has my backing as the manager to do it !
Very very disappointing is all I can say. Wrecked the whole weekend :(
As a Liverpool Fan,I wouldnt read too much into the game, indeed Crouchie did have the game of his life and will probably never repeat it again, you boys just didnt show up or produce the level of performance we are acustomed to, ie, the 3 previous games against us this year. I seriously hope Arsenal sew up the 3rd/4th spot ahead of Spurs, Bolton and Everton. These 3 would embarass the PL if they were to feature in the CL. Spurs on a good run, but will end this week against Chelsea and I reckon they will finish 8th! Their usual position!
In the light of Eusebio's comments (liked the closing part), I'd like to add that the imperative now for AW is to lift the lads mentally and instill the lost self-belief. Some need time off (Toure, Cesc, Hleb) and some need to go out there and give it all (Senderos, Djourou, Diaby, Denilson, TR7, Eboue and Clichy) and repay the faith that the manager and fans have shown in them. 3 people not lacking commitment are Gilberto, Gallas and Adebayor and their fitness could be the key to the last 8 games. The sooner we ensure CL footy (mathematically) the better off we will be. Baptista needs a miracle (10 goals) to stay here, and so does Aliadiere. Wenger needs to add EXPERIENCE in the summer. Nothing more.
Eusebio thanks for a spirited magnanimous post. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but yuo are right - if Spurs or Bolton did ever play CL they would indeed embarass the Premier League! It may be a bit harsh of you to condemn them to 8th though - don't they at least deserve some UEFA cup action? Actually, on second thoughts...
Ahh some cheer from Eusebio's closing comments. Can wait to put this behind soon enough, and cant wait for next weekend. We should put in a commanding performance against WHU to finish strongly, I am concerned taht we have lost the momentum we created from dec.
Although there are no excuses for that kind of performance, it's obvious we have lost that edge, that little bit of extra pressure to perform, that you need at the highest level. Adebayor hit the post when it was 2-0, if that went in it could've been different. Going to Anfield is never easy anyway, especially when they do have the 'edge' and are after revenge. I'm not sure about Baptista. On the one hand, I think all foreign players need to be judged after their second season, however a decision needs to be made. I would have liked him to work out but I don't think we can fit him in. I think we should return him and sell Reyes, add some more money, and go out and buy two but at least one truly world-class attacking player. Was it me or does anyone think that Denilson isn't playing that well after starting off very well?
Im assuming at some stage you have played football before LD, and i have no *****in' clue what you are talking about if you have. When the oposition is playing a 4-5-1 watching the lone striker is both Gallas and Toure's responsibility, thats why its so hard playing lone striker. Wathcing Gerard for the cut back when the opposition is playing a 4-5-1 is either Denilson or Cesc's job, i dont know why you keep defending him so much, he was rooted to the ground and was just plain asleep when that cross came in, not watching Gerard at all just lazy and neglecting his defensive duties. Atleast Toure made an effort. And by the way I've read the translation versions of most of the interviews, some of what was said was left out to sensationalise it but it was in essence exactly as reported.
Ozi Gooner
Gerrard was playing as a centre forward, he was available on the cutback and Gallas had to cut off the angle. Denilson and Csec were missing from the scene, Gallas was doing what he had to. The literal translations are virtually unrecognisable from what was reported, for example, when he was reported as lambasting our medical staff, what he actually said was that he blamed himself for his injury. Crouch put himself on Toure all day, not Gallas, I think that said something too. I'm not bagging Toure, he's played non stop and needs a break. Gallas on the other hand has been our best player in a dismal month along with Diaby. I think Gallas's quality, positioning and attitude are absolutely crucial to us right now, you need people like him to come through difficult periods.
Little Dutch
I think it’s time Arsene looked at his backroom staff. I know Pat Rice is an Arsenal Legend and has been at the club for a long, long time, but maybe it’s time for new ideas from an Assistant point of view. Fergie has had numerous assistants in his time at OT and I can only see it as a good thing, someone fresh with new ideas. Hey Mr “Arsenal” Adams fancy a job?
are you sure you not a gooner eusebio? you could have fooled me cos your a r s e creeping skills are second to none. your'e right though, we wont finish 4th, but this wont stop us from trying since the gooners are in totally dis array. and you right again when you say that crouch wont play like that again: because he wont come up against another defence who is so generous and forgiving!!!! Oh and eusebio, hope you not feeling too confident in your tie against PSV, we woudn't want them to EMBARASS you the same way they did to the gooners!!!!!! COM'N ALEX, RISE TO THE OCCASION AND DUMP THE SCOUSERS!!!
powerspur- did you say....dump? Because funnily enough, that explains precisely why Spuds didn't play Champions League football this season :-)
Little Dutch
a classic by powerspur. If sp*rs were ever playing in the CL, then he might have known that Alex is injured and won't play. You have to feel sorry for that lot from the lane.
It was bad. Everyone is acknowleging that. Hope Arsenal make a "fool free April" and win all the games this month. Nothing would suffice.
PowerSpur, Alex?-where have you been the past month! Watch out for Kanoute on thursday, quality striker, remember the handball against us in the League Cup 1/4 final!! Who could ever forget! You would want to Kop on to reality because Spurs are muck, I dont really like Arsenal to be honest but I do appreciate a good footballing side, they play the game the way we all love to see it played, I know Liverpool dont play sincilating footie but Arsenal passing and movement is top notch. I know we are more pronoun for our defending! (By the way you lot conceded 44 goals this season! Shocker!) So imagine the likes of Spurs, Bolton and Everton in the CL. It makes me cringe even to think so. PS Spurs are Shiiiite!
We never took our chances, we never coped with Crouch. Those two things played abig part in our defeat. Am more annoyed that Toure an Gallas cant cope with Crouchy.

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