13 December 2009

Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal

Reina
Johnson Carragher Agger Aurelio
Lucas Mascherano
Kuyt Gerrard Benayoun
Torres

Goals:
Kuyt 41’
Johnson (og) 50’
Arshavin 58’

I should have gone to the basketball game.

A great first half, but an awful second half. And Liverpool lose despite taking the lead thanks to said awful second half. Complete and utter impotence when driving for a late goal, the exact opposite of last season’s team. Sound familiar?

A furious, high-pressing start almost saw Liverpool score twice before 15 minutes were off the clock. That’s the tempo and ambition we needed from the team; a 12th minute break between Gerrard and Torres ended with a tame Torres shot too close to Almunia before Gerrard should have won a penalty a minute later, with Webb ignoring Gallas’ reckless challenge because, I can only assume, Gerrard had pushed the ball too far forward.

Mascherano was in the middle of all of it, and a 25th minute injury, for which Denilson saw yellow, brought the tempo down. Yet, as Arsenal grew into the game, Liverpool found a way to take the lead four minutes before halftime, from a set play, through the much-maligned Kuyt. Aurelio’s deep central free kick found Lucas, who headed too close to Almunia. But Kuyt was there to clean up, poking home while Lucas stayed inactive in an offside position, for his sixth goal of the season.

But Arsenal came out of the blocks far stronger in the second half, and it didn’t take Liverpool long to pay for it. As usual. It’s utterly amazing how many times Liverpool’s forgotten that it’s a game of two halves, and they've paid for it in every single one.

First, an unfortunate fluke own goal from Johnson after Nasri’s cross took two deflections and Glen’s errant touch wrong-footed Reina. Eight minutes later, that man Arshavin punished Liverpool at Anfield yet again with a goal from nothing. His control on a deep cross took him around Johnson and a typical hammered shot with no backlift beat Reina. Fuck me running.

Aquilani’s entrance, for Mascherano on 66 minutes, saw Liverpool shift into a 4-1-4-1 formation, but Arsenal still saw more possession when shutting up shop, and the home side once again found it hard to break through. Ngog, on for the subpar Benayoun in the 79th, changed it again, to 4-4-2, but with little difference to the play. I’m struggling to think of any second half shots on target. Benayoun was invisible, while Torres’ clearly needs match fitness (as does Gerrard). Those are Liverpool’s three main attacking options, and when they suck, so does Liverpool. Finally having the first choice backline still saw Liverpool ship two goals, with Johnson mainly at fault for both (although Arsenal’s second was classic Arshavin).

This is a bad, bad loss. There’s no overemphasizing that. It’s the worst in the league – worse than Fulham or Sunderland – and probably only comparable to the late loss against Lyon. I’m furious at Howard Webb for the non-penalty, and every 50-50 call went Arsenal’s way, but this is AGAIN of Liverpool’s own making.

This win puts Arsenal in third by two points with a game in hand, and opens the chasm between them and the chasing pack. This loss makes fourth place infinitely harder, and it was already a challenge only halfway through December. The next three games are against Wigan, Wolves, and Pompey, before a trip to Villa on December 29. Liverpool simply cannot take anything other than 12 points from those four, or the season really is well and truly over.

13 comments:

Mike Georger said...

God DAMNIT I fucking hate Arsenal. And that rubber faced Russian cocksucker. And our defenders. And Howard Webb.

Matt said...

Liverpool didn't play well enough to win, and I haven't bothered to care much for the calls this season, but Web was just awful.

Carlos said...

this is bad

nate said...

I only hate Arshavin because he doesn't play for Liverpool. Imagine had Benitez bought him instead of Keane a year and a half ago?

Mike Georger said...

I really thought we would, too. He fit our system and we already had ties with Zenit from buying Skrtel, so it's not like we didn't have scouts there.

Or you know, our scouts just suck dong.

Issam said...

Liverpool lost because they simply did not put their chances away in the first half. How many times were we in their box?!

A little more urgency is needed next time. And a bit more luck...

Mike Georger said...

We're as far from first as we are from last. And Rafa's plan: keep doing what we're doing.

Fuck me.

Anonymous said...

The penalty denial is a direct result of Ngog's dive against Birmingham. Don't expect to get any penalties for awhile after that.

It took Arsenal nearly 4 months to before a ref awarded them another penalty after Eduardo's dive against Celtic.

Mike Georger said...

Eh. Arsenal's first game in Europe after the Eduardo dive they had two goals that were clearly off ruled on and one handball for a goal ignored, I don't think there's a conspiracy at work.

nate said...

Issam - There actually weren't many chances in the first half, even when Liverpool was clearly on top. Arse's two defensive midfielders, plus Vermaelen (the transfer of the season so far), limited Liverpool's opportunities even when the team played well.

Urgency wasn't the issue. Confidence was, again. Liverpool let in a fluky goal soon after the restart, and all momentum and confidence just flew out the window. There was only one winner after that goal, although it took a sublime strike for Arshavin to get it. Liverpool just became more disjointed and reliant on aimless long balls. Did Aquilani touch the ball more than 10 times after he came on?

My adoration of Benitez is well-documented, but this game shows where he fails. Wenger's halftime talk/man-management changed Arsenal's play for the better. But for some reason, players aren't responding to the manager, and/or the manager's not learning that Liverpool needs the high tempo as long as possible. Blackburn, Everton and Debrecen are the only games where Liverpool hasn't shipped at least one stupid goal, almost all of them coming in the second half, since the end of September.

Granted, fitness still isn't the best, which would explain tailing off early, but it's a piss poor excuse. I'm so fucking sick of excuses.

Only Lucas, Carragher, Mascherano, and maybe Reina (didn't have much to do but pick out two goals that weren't his fault) can be content with performances today. Nowhere near good enough.

Anon - A good point. An unfair point, but probably valid. But it was a penalty, and I'd still argue Ngog's v Brum was too - if Ngog doesn't go over the tackle, his ankle's destroyed by Kelly.

Just goes to show that absolutely nothing's going Liverpool's way this season. That combined with the team's own failings has utterly doomed the season so far.

extrafattyliver said...

arshavin was THE star of Euro 2008 in my opinion. really enjoyed the russian job on Holland. why he was bought for 15 million by arsenal is just beyond me. vaguely remember he was saying he only wanted to play for arsenal? and to make things worse, we are paying for it more than any other team. 5 goals in 2 games, the points he took off us that would probably land us the title last year.

not much is going our way. this is the worse run of injuries, own goals, beach balls, added time killers that i can remember since supporting liverpool.

this is only one way forward and that is to dig deep and play one game at a time till the end of the season and never let the heads drop. the sooner this season is behind us the better. hope we can buy snoogy doogy this summer.

irfaanfr said...

WE ARE DOOMED!!!!!!

drew said...

This team breaks my heart.