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

Liverpool vs. The Arsenal

Anfield

31/03/07

12:45

On Sky

Liverpool V The Arsenal

After everything that has happened this season (reaching a cup final, making the second round of the champions League, beating Spu*s in a cup Semi Final), this game is the most important of them all.

If Arsenal are to show that they have made progress then they must get third place. We went out of the Champions League several rounds earlier than last season, although we did get to a cup final and we got a round further in the FA Cup.

Liverpool are sure to try and get at Arsenal, for that is the most effective way of avoiding defeat against them. Sissoko, Gerrard and Alonso will all be instructed to put some tough tackles in on the likes of Fabregas, Hleb and Rosicky.

Liverpool may be one of the 'big four' but they can, at times, play some really boring football. They do have flair players, Rafa just doesn't get the best out of them. Credit where it's due, he tried to attack when Arsenal played Liverpool in the Carling Cup - but he then had to sit and watch The Beast maul his side.

Arsenal on the other hand, are sure to go for the jugular, as they always do. The fact that 4 of Arsenal's strikers are missing through injury is unlikely to deter Le Boss from playing his usual flowing football.

Vital Quotes:

Arsene Wenger takes a philosophical view of Arsenal's season: "You want to be as good as possible in every competition. But you judge the global reward by the way you play and compete in the championship.

"I agree that we were not good enough this year and I have to stand up and take responsibility for that.

"Our record overall is not bad. We have not had a bad defence and not a bad attack. But also we were not outstanding anywhere.

"We were superior, good, but not top, top in any department. We have been sometimes fantastic in attack, or with the best defence. But to win the league you need the team to be on top and that is what we did not have this season.

"Still you have to take a distance with these things aswell. If we had won a trophy - the Carling Cup - this season, it still would not have been a great success.

"And I feel you have more chance to win if you play good football. You always have to show your players the bigger picture. You cannot say my target is to play bad football because you will lose."


Le Boss also spoke of teh boost Adebayor's return will give the team: 'With the number of strikers we have out, his presence, physical ability and penetration power (need I insert an innuendo?) means it is good to have him back.

'We have been punished very hard with Adebayor so it is a relief to have him with us again.'

Rafa 'The Gaffer' hopes the fact that Arsenal have already beaten Liverpool twice at Anfield this season will motivate his players: 'I'm sure that our home defeats in the FA Cup and Carling Cup will be a motivation for the players, but one I hope will help in a positive way.

'We all remember what happened, but now we have a different game in a different competition and situation.

'Always when you play Arsenal you know it's a big game and important.


The Liverpool boss also hinted he could rest some key players: 'We know we have to think about using our whole squad because of the game against Eindhoven to come, but we also know we have to make sure we finish in the top four.'

Liverpool Team News:


Liverpool have two injuries ahead of the crucial clash at Anfield. Luis Garcia (cruciate ligament) and Harry Kewell (Ankle).

Peter Crouch is set to return after a few days in training.

Player to watch: Gerrard

The Liverpool skipper is always a threat. He has a talent so rare in English players today - the ability to lift his whole team up to the next level.

Diaby is likely to be the man tasked with keeping Gerrard quiet, and he'll need another game like the one he had in Cardiff last month to do so.

The Arsenal Team News:


There's been mixed news coming out of The Grove in teh last few days. Gael Clichy and Manu Eboue are both fit and set to play after revocering from foot and knee injuries respectively.

The bad news is that Robin Van Persie is set to miss the rest of the season along with captain Thierry Henry and youngster Theo Walcott.

The biggest blow is that Gilberto Silva is out after suffering a knock to his hip during the international break. Aliadiere will also miss the game after picking up a knock in training.

Player to watch: Beast, Beast, Beast!

Last time Arsenal were at Anfield Baptista scored 4 goals and missed a penalty! How could he NOT be my player to watch?

Likely Tactics

Liverpool will not come at Arsenal. they'll likely play a 4-5-1 with Sissoko and Alonso sitting deep while Gerrard runs around doing what he does best - everything. Kuyt will look to apply as much pressure as possible to Arsenal's back-line, hoping he can force a mistake.

Arsenal will also line up with a 4-5-1 - but a very different mentality. Hleb and Rosicky will come inside at every oppertunity, with Clichy and Eboue playing as wing-backs to offer width. Fabregas will be up to his usual tricks, leaving the majority of the ugly work to Diaby.

Ref Watch:

Steve Bennet will referee Saturday's fixture. The Kent-born official has issued 79 cards (75 yellow, 4 red) in his 25 games this season, an average of 3.43 cards per game.

Match Prediction:

Sorry guys and girls, Mr pessimistic says Liverpool will win. Liverpool will not play Arsenal at their own game this time, Rafa is no fool and will have learned from his mistakes. 1-0, Kuyt.




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The Journalist

Writer: Nick Simmonett  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday March 31 2007

Time: 3:01AM

Your Comments

gonna be optamistic. rosicky is going to have a wonderful game, buzzing about. ill say 2-0 arsenal with a rosicky brace. he can "bang a couple" in ;)
ahops101
Liverpool will never defend, defend, defend at anfield. Chelsea came to anfield and got hammered by Liverpool. Liverpool will attack at you lot and get the 3 points us reds so badly need. 2-0 Liverpool. Kuyt, Gerrard. CUM ON U REDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Aamir
I'm with ahops101 here - have a hunch that Tommy is due a brace today! Go the Gunners!!!
Andy-bayor
Cmon GuNNERZ !!!!!!!!!!
HENRY`14
y isnt rosicky not in da startin 11 !!!!!!! :(
HENRY`14
ooHHHH!!!! ****** !!!!!!
HENRY`14
Exhaustion?
kernowboy
G4L, you still wanna bet that arsenal are going to pick up more than 1 point against Liverpool, West Ham & Newcastle??...........We have gone backwards, its no longer a team in transition its a squad in decline. A lot of those youngsters are not improving & the likes of Hleb & Rosicky are just average players. Sure from time to time you will get the odd outstanding game from them but thats probably 1 match in every 10-15 games. It's not good enough. This is supposed to be our first choice defence, yet its worse than the second choice & our midfield minus one player is incapable of creating any chances at all. A very depressing day!!
Ashburton Gooner
I don't think the season can end soon enough for us!
Gooner_Vin
Now Im worried for 4th place :(
AB_Arsenal
AG, as much as this one looks **** I am willing to bet you that we will pick up more than 1 pt in the coming 2 games. It is the first time the back 4 actually played together this year, right? I am so pi$$ed right now, so let's wait till things cool off a bit.
G4L
Heads up Gooners!
G4L
As usual, Adebayor is the only gunner on the field with any passion to win...by far the worst showing this season...truly sad. Maybe if they get a few hookers after this loss they can get back on track for the next match!
SUX2BU
G4L, believe me I am just as p****d off about this. I wouldn't care about the result if I could see improvement but there is absolutely nothing we can take from that game at all. As for the defence........well it may be the first time they have played together, but that doesn't excuse basic errors that top defenders just wouldn't make!!
Ashburton Gooner
god talk about overraction
ExRox
4-1.. ouch that really hurts.. there was absolutely nothing in our performance today which was pleasing.. except for Ade.. he was good.. I think Wenger made the wrong choice in going 4-4-2 to be honest.. He shud've started Rosicky regardless.. and shud've gone 4-5-1.. the lack of width forced Eboue and Clichy to stay up more and we really lost our shape without the width in midfield.. We didn't play well enuf, we didn't deserve anything.. and now I'm really worried that these guys are simply turning up just to finish off the season..
arsenalrulz4ever
And btw.. Baptista was awfull... he was absolutely useless today.. I don't know if Wenger wud or shud buy him come the summer.
arsenalrulz4ever
Baptitsta is crap !!!! no gunner on dat feild wantd 2 win ,,,,, we are overplayin , sumtimes simple is best ...wenger needs 2 do sumthng ... JUST SOO P.IS.SED !!!!!
HENRY`14
yeah its a bad result but just stop and think before spewing stupid comments. we are still in the drivers seat for 3rd place that why non of you are managers.
mish
effing *****ed off but arsene knows this is how we all felt before the unbeaten season
mish
Knock knock..
cusop
Anybody in there .. Banned again !! Te He!!
cusop
F*ck that was hard to bear... I don't feel much optimism today, seeing how we were outplayed...Apart from Ade and maybe bits of Diaby & Gallas, this was very very poor. We beat them 3 times this term so it's ok to lose one but in this manner it's a worry... we have a soft centre (exposed by Bert's absence) and no naming is required as too many played badly! If we don't write this off as a bad day where the players were jaded and neither they, nor the tactics gelled, then we have problems. I'm going to buy the first option, unless we repeat this against West Ham.
Andy-bayor
I have ernomous faith in Arsene Wenger - he has proven ability to build winning sides and know what it takes from his players. My only concern here is that even next season, and the one after that, are still going to be too soon for our players. The balance between youth and experience just isn't right. We have too many players still learning their trade and, whilst there is every liklehood they will get there, we don't know how long that will be.
Gooner_Vin
Gooner_Vin.. i cant agree with u more on that one.. yes, its all well and good playing the yougsters and having faith in them.. but its games like this which show the bottle that they have.. unfortunately for us today, it wasn't there to see. We need.. some good experienced players.. probably a couple.. and we seem to always ignore the TH14 and RvP are injured.. then again we are a top 4 side and we must be able to cope with all of that!
arsenalrulz4ever
I would say that the form of Tottenham Hotspur should have you looking nervously over your shoulder,both in the short & long time.Lose at WHL & you could be in serious doo doo.
chalky76
Henry & RVP wouldn't have stopped us conceding 4 goals. For f**** sake Liverpool played Crouch as the only striker & he's about as mobile as a bicycle with no wheels.................Mish, its not 1 bad result its a whole host of them dragging on from last season & which team is it that you manage??
Ashburton Gooner
The fact is that we conceded from 2 set plays really.. and we've never looked confident in defending them! Crouch mite not be a mobile striker but today was his day.. u can't deny him that! We were flat.. be it physically or mentally.. I just feel that the players have it in their head that the season is over and are not turning up.. I still don get y we din play 4-5-1 tho'.. I probably will never get it!
arsenalrulz4ever
Man I am annoyed at the result but I will be reppin Arsenal for life. I guess I will just have to take this season and talk about it to my kids. Good thing will be seeing the team be successful and see how they grew I guess.
Gunners
Good game, you played with flair and grace...and lost as usual. but who cares?? :))))
Blue is the colour
the scoreline flattered them a bit we had more posession and only one less chance,i think the problem was that our full backs didnt look very match fit,eboue was of the pace and clichy was ball watching alot,their job was to stop the crosses not watch the crosses,its true that we should have had diaby in the centre with either fab or denilson in support with rosiky on the wing,hleb tried too much and lost the ball,baptista was his usual self,poor first touch,bad shooting and unable to defend set pieces,in fact most of the team were off the pace,the early goal didnt help,and it coudlve been defended a lot better,but im not worreid baout this year anymore,we might secure 3rd spot,and we will come back better next season
fran merida
So its official..Arsenil are indeed a one man team..!!The truth has been exposed in recent weeks.The truth being that you have been riding high on the Henry wave for far too long & now that you are unable to hide behind Henry"s exceptional talents you have been exposed for what you really are.No better than Tottenham & certainly not Champions Lge material.Mascarading as the be all & end all in youth development is the bit that gets me.I mean the vast majority of those so called "hot prospects" have been exposed as actually being rather ordinary & not good enough.I allways did find it strange why the media were wetting their pants about these "new Bergkamp"s" that were about to roll off the conveyorbelt like confetti.Having watched the Arsenil youth & reserve sides getting crushed home & away by Tottenham Hotspur"s youngsters on several occasions in the last 2 years i wasnt so quick to believe the hype from the "experts" in the media like The Sun"s Steven Howard who lets his illness (supporting you orrible $"&*%) cloud his judgments.Judgments like Arsenil were going to dominate The Premiership within 18 months & would do for 10 years!LOL..!!Hmmm,yeah that Cesc Fabragas is just sooooo amazing,hasnt scored in 50 matches & looks like he couldnt run a bath never mind the Arsenil midfield..!!Walcott,WOW!He"s just sooo good its untrue.Wenger must "actually" be losing his sight afterall coz Walcott is a piece of junk.Spurs meanwhile stole Wenger"s chief scout & quitely began setting up a scouting network that has seen the BEST 16/17 year olds in European football being gazumped from your Evil clutches.Within 18 months they will walk into the first team.We recently paid 2mill for the best 15yr old in England who we can safely say is not going to be like Pennant whilst the Czech we recently took is the best ever prospect they have had,a player that is touted to be far better than Nedved ever was.Tarrabt"s performance v Arsenil stiffs underlined the gulf in class between the sets of players.....Jol will as he says have a genuine title winning side within 2/3 years.Unlike previous Spurs managers he has a useful habit of delivering the goods,he is also unique in the sense that he is the first boss at WHL since Venables that knows what he is doing.Thats why he"s currently rated in the top tier of emerging European football coaches.Sir Alex wanted him for years as his no2 & is the reason why he will probably if the truth be known managing Manchester United when Red Face departs.His work in Holland was amazing for RKC & he has turned THFC into something that people are once again taking seriously.A far far cry from the Joke that our club had been allowed to become.A club that has for over a decade shamed the great names of years gone buy with awful players that couldnt be "boffered" despite picking up Man Utd type wages.THE SICK LAME LAZY SPURS IS NO MORE..!!Y1dd0s
chalky76
sure
G4L
this is exactly how our season was ending in 00-01, and how we collapsed in 02-03, and remember how the team bounced back from those disappointments. i've got faith in Le Boss and i'm sure 95% of the Gooners in the world believe in him too. Wenger is already preparing for next season, finishing in the top 4 matters now which i'm sure we will. and next season will be a lot better than what the past three years have been..
luckys_10
lol, it looks as if you have a deranged spurs fan up there and btw is it coz your rubbish?
Takeabowson!
Yesterday was very poor and a lot of players must look at themselves and ask themselves whether they want to play for this club. When you play for this club, you don't coast games, especially when we are nowhere near consolidating fourth spot. Fabregas, Clichy, Toure, Baptista coasted yesterday and they need to ask themselves what they want for this club. Gallas and Adebayor took responsibility and tried to make something happen, Hleb tried likewise but in truth had a poor game. But AG, I'm curious as to how you can lambast Rosicky for yesterday when he didn't even play? You cannot say an entire team is going backwards on the basis of one game we are still many points better off than we were last season. I wanted to see a reaction and a statement from these players after that nightmare 11 days, all they've shown is that they feel sorry for themselves. Those of us that left our homes at 4am and paid good money to watch this game are owed an apology from Fabregas, Toure, Baptista, Clichy and even Lehmann did not look too bothered.
Little Dutch
Oh and don't bother arguing with the Spurs moron. The fact that we are ten points ahead of the Spuddies and have beaten them twice without Henry kicking a ball has obviously escaped his attention. But it's all that needs to be said, don't bite.
Little Dutch
We are lacking a spark at the moment, the spark that Bobby or DB10 used to give us, combined with the fact a large amount of impetus has gone from the season, this is no excuse granted especially for the likes of LD and the other travelling support, we were poor, I'm just trying to rationalise why. 4th place is not safe at the moment. I agree 'Key' players need to take a look at what they want from this club. I defended beast to the hilt previously, but I'm getting extremely frustrated with his constant misses and general lethargy, its time to send him back.
TR7
Baptista's chance was harder than it looked, the ball came across at pace, he would have benefitted from a shout from Eboue who was in a good position. But he went through the motions yesterday.
Little Dutch
How many points above the 'Spuddies' are ya?
HATEtheGOONS
I must agree with you 100% chalky. You have taken the words straight out of my mouth. THE MIGHTY SPURS WILL RULE AGAIN!!!!!!! (sing a long to the music of bonanza!!!)
powerspur
dont flatter yourself too much that you won us twice little dutch. the league win was gifted to you by pol the t w a t ref, who gave you two dubious penalties and an offside goal to help you along. having said that, I admit that you did play well on the day, but that was early season when we were struggling, now we are settled and your team look like s h i t so we cant wait to play you at the lane. better keep you best player away from the prosties otherwise you wont stand a chance against us!!!!!
powerspur
cant believe u let that lanky idiot score 3
MOYES IS GOD
and they call themselves the team of the decade. sounds like crystal palace in the 80's and look what happened to them. hope the same happens to the whingers. now that will really be something, wouldn't you agree moyes?
powerspur
 

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