A kick up the Arsenal

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool

Arsenal – Szczesny – Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Sagna – Frimpong, Ramsey, Nasri – Walcott, Arshavin, Van Persie

Liverpool – Reina – Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Enrique – Lucs, Henderson, Adam, Kuyt, Downing – Carroll

Early kick off’s always mess with my pre-match routine. As it turns out, it meant that my post match drinking was longer than usual (hence that delay in this report). I was reading the programme in the Blackstock pub before the game, and I just couldn’t believe how threadbare our squad looks. I must admit I didn’t expect Nasri to play, but as soon as I found out he was, there was only one thing that went through my mind: “thank god for that”.

To be honest I surprised myself with that response. I don’t want to sound hypercritical, but leading up to the game I felt he shouldn’t be anywhere near the team. However, for all Wenger’s failings, he would not put him in the team if he didn’t think the team would benefit from it.

As expected Samir got a bit of stick to begin with, but as soon as we saw he was putting a shift in, a majority got behind him. To be honest I’ve never and will never boo an Arsenal player, manager or board member! I’m not judging those who do, but I just find it counter-productive. On the other hand, I won’t sing his name again, unless he commits to the club.

I was looking forward to seeing Emmanual Frimpong start. He is more renowned for his social media exploits than those on the pitch at the moment, but that will change. I’ve been following this lad since he was sixteen years, and have always thought he’s gonna be one hell of a player. Granted I would prefer to see him blooded gently to gain experience, but that’s a luxury that we don’t have at the moment (due to Alex Song’s stupidity).

Liverpool won the toss and turned us around from our usual end. Sitting in the North Bank, that irritated me, but still…….. hey ho. We started the game well enough, with evidence that both teams are going to try and get forward score goals (something the away side were not as keen to do in the corresponding fixture last year). The writing was possibly on the wall for Frimpong when he arguable should have been booked for a foul on Agger after a minute.

Liverpool were mixing their play up well, with long ball’s up to Carroll and good play through the midfield. I think they still lack the same midfield vision that we do though. I’m starting to realise what a great player Cesc was, but as the old saying goes, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!’

Frimpong was booked after an altercation with Henderson on the touch line, but after watching it again this morning; he was very unfortunate to be booked. I think Atkinson realised Frimmers got away with the initial tackle earlier and felt he had to make up for it! Atkinson continued to frustrate Arsenal fans with baffling decisions against Walcott and Koscielny.

With twelve minutes gone a massive blow happened for Arsenal. Laurent Koscielny pulled up with a back spasm, and Ignasi Miguel was introduced. Let me reiterate we now had Jenkinson, Frimpong and Miguel on the pitch. I’m not belittling these players, I’ve already waxed lyrical about Frimpong, but it is worrying how our first team resembles what would have been our League Cup team a couple of years ago!

In the twentieth minute, Andy Carroll found himself in space and his header needed a good save from Szczesny . A few minutes later Liverpool were causing problems down the left with Jose Enrique looking to exploit Carl Jenkinson’s inexperience. The most irritating thing about that is the fact that I had highlighted him as a replacement for Clichey when he left. At £6 million, it is fantastic value.

Both Jenkinson and Arshavin delivered good balls into the Liverpool box, only to be met by…………………… no one!

With nearly half an hour on the clock Charlie Adam got delusions of grandeur with a speculative shot from his own half. Szczney was up to the test though. A minute later saw Frimpong coax a good save from Reina, after a shot from twenty-five yards. Unfortunately that would be a best effort of the half. Samir Nasri made a fantastic run which took him from his own half to the edge of the Liverpool box resulting In a shot which went just wide. It was just what the Frenchman needed to get the fans on his side!

Atkinsons’ inconsistency was beginning to frustrate the Arsenal fans and players. Now I’m not really one for criticising referee’s, but being petulantly concise about certain parts of the rules and then not even awarding a free kick from a blatant tackle from behind really irritates me.

With it goalless at half time it was probably a fair reflection of how the game was panning out, although if I was forced, I would probably reluctantly say Liverpool edged it.

Into the second half and it was becoming abundantly clear that players were looking at each other to make something happen, rather than do it themselves. I don’t really credit Liverpool with a realistic title challenge to be honest, I think it’s the for the Manchester clubs to battle for. If, however, you look at their midfield they have options to play in a multitude of ways. We seem to be stuck with Plan A, and not sure how to change it.

The game seemed to be stagnating to an extent with a Martin Kelly strike and a tame Robin Van Persie effort being the only chances of note. In Robin’s defence the pass from Arshavin did take a very slight deflection which prevented him from getting a clean contact.

Then with twenty minutes to go (annoyingly just as it looked like we were getting the better of the Scousers) Frimpong was sent off for a second bookable offence. I rate Frimpong and have followed his progress over the years, and one thing is for sure; this might be his first red card, but it will not be his last. I just hope he learns from this and matures.

Liverpool were intent on making their numerical advantage count, and the arrival of Luis Saurez to the fray gave them a different dimension.

With thirteen minutes to go the deadlock was broken in dubious circumstances. A through ball was played to Suarez, when Ignasi Miguel made a tackle the ball deflected off Aaron Ramsey’s chest and looped over Szczesny’s head into the net. If it wasn’t so disastrous, it would have been funny. It was, however, offside and shouldn’t have stood.

You sensed that the players knew they weren’t going to get back into the game, and Wenger’s introduction of Bendtner did not to change that. The second goal, with us chasing the game, was inevitable. The manner of it, when it came, was disappointing. A well worked move by Liverpool, as they waltzed through our back line, and culminated in a tap in for Luis Suarez. It was a deserved win for Liverpool.

So…………. We’re entering the biggest week I think we’ve had in a long time, definitely during the Emirates era. I know we have injuries and suspensions, but we need bodies. What are the bets we try and get ourselves a bargain with five minutes left of the window? Then when we fail, we will get the all too familiar ‘we tried’ bullshit.

Frustration/anxious/bewilderment, words that are all too poignant for Gooners at the moment. Two massive games to come this week, I’ve got to admit…………………………. I’m nervous!

Dave

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