Arsenal 1-0 Liverpool. All is right with the world again…

Phew! Before the game yesterday, I hoped for an Arshavin goal and a Vermaelen screamer. Neither happened, but the 3 points against Liverpool isn’t any less sweeter.

It was a hard fought match, and we showed the type of grit and determination that we really ought to have demonstrated against Man U and Chelsea. We didn’t do enough to take any points from those games, but we stopped the rot against Liverpool, and it was a crucial 3 points. A draw wouldn’t have been the worst result in the world, but losing would have been disastrous, as it would have meant losing 3 games on the bounce, against our top-4 rivals. It wouldn’t have helped morale one bit, as you could tell we were feeling pretty low after the results of the past few weeks.

A few changes were made to our starting line-up, with Bendtner coming in for Theo for his first start since the Sp*rs game way back in October. It wasn’t really a surprise Theo dropped to the bench, as he’s also just coming back from injury and started against Chelsea just 3 days ago. Eboue also came into the starting XI in place of Sagna. Wenger has been keen to rotate both of them quite often this season, and I think it’s more about keeping Eboue happy by playing him regularly, not necessarily a reflection on Sagna’s performances. Liverpool only made one change, with Skrtel coming in for Krygiakos, who picked up a straight red in his last game.

The first half was nothing to write home about, really. Both teams seemed more intent on passing the ball to the opposition than creating chances. It was understandable that we were a bit conservative, seeing as in our last 2 games, we’ve been 2 nil down at half-time! So I’m guessing what was foremost on the players’ minds, not the least us fans, was getting to half-time unscathed. We did just that. There were a few half-chances here and there with Gallas heading over, Arshavin hitting the side-netting, and Bendtner and Liverpool’s Maxi Rodriguez both blazing over; but it was more of a defensive half from both teams. Liverpool seemed slightly more confident than us, especially as they were on the back of a 7-match unbeaten run in the League. We tend to be rubbish most first-halfs anyways, so it wasn’t much of a worry that our passing was a bit off, or that we didn’t create too many clear-cut chances. As long as we didn’t concede, we’d stand a better chance of winning the game in the second-half. Obviously. We did lose Nasri after 34 minutes to injury though, with Rosicky coming on to replace him.

The second-half was a much better affair, and it was end-to-end at the start. With Bendtner upfront, Arshavin was playing in his preferred role on the left, and he instantly looked better than in recent games. But with his goal-scoring record against Liverpool, I’m sure he was feeling confident about scoring.  Liverpool had a great chance to go 1 nil up, after Ngog was played through by Gerrard and with only Almunia to beat, but man-of-the-match Gallas made a fantastic and important last-ditch challenge to snuff out that chance. Rosicky then had a chance to score, or at least create something, but he fluffed his lines and the ball rolled out for a goal-kick. Despite the chances, it did look like ending nil nil. Arshavin then picked up a knock and was replaced by Theo halfway through the second half, and he brought a different dimension to the game with his pace. Rosicky also had another chance to open the scoring after being fed by Bendtner on the edge of the box, but his shot flew over.

But shortly after, the goal we all craved for arrived. And it was a lovely one, as well. Fabregas, who in fairness had had a bit of a poor game until then, picked up the ball and found Bendtner with a lovely pass just inside the box. His initial cross was blocked, but he collected the rebound and slid the ball to Rosicky on the right, who had the time and space to pick out the perfect cross right across the face of the box, and Diaby was there at the far post with a fabulous header to score his 7th goal of the season. There was a huge sense of relief all around and you could tell from the celebrations of the players how much that goal meant.

But there was still a bit of time left, and we needed the players to hold their concentration and not concede a late equaliser. Not only was it important to kick-start our season, it looked like Chelsea and Man U were going to drop points, so we already had a chance to close the gap. And hold on we did. Comfortably, if I may add. Almunia did had to be alert to tip Babel’s fierce strike onto the bar and away for a corner, and right at the death, Liverpool won a questionable free-kick in a dangerous position. And with our wall just on the edge of the penalty box, the ball struck Fabregas on the arm, just in front of his head. It was definitely hand-ball, but it was outside the box, so it couldn’t have been a penalty. Liverpool appealed for one but the referee, Howard Webb waved their appeals away and seconds later blew the final whistle to signal Arsene Wenger’s 300th Premier League win with Arsenal. It was definitely a hard-fought win, and even though it was a close affair with Liverpool surprisingly shading the possession, I’d say we deserved to win.

We’d done the double over Liverpool, and it felt like a massive 3 points, which it was! So that was the fixtures of death completed. We played 4 really tough games, collecting 4 points- 1 draw, 2 defeats and 1 win. But to put it another way, it could as well have been 4 draws!
Anyways, with those games out of the way, we’ve got a relatively easy run-in to the end of the season and who knows, we could win the league! We’ve got every chance of going on a fabulous run, and the other teams might stumble. But for now, we just need to concentrate on the next game and the next game and the next game… As the Boss said:

Let’s be consistent and try to win our next game. I believe we will fight until the last second of the season and we did that tonight. That’s what we want to continue to do. We believe we have a chance and you could see again that Chelsea lost tonight, Man United dropped points, so it is open for everybody. Everybody can drop points everywhere.

So we currently find ourselves 6 points off the top of the League and 5 points behind Man U, and it seems we’re back in the title race, but we just have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks. We’ve made a good start win the win over Liverpool, and to make yesterday’s win even better, lowly Wolves did the double over Sp*rs. Did you say 3rd place, Harry?

  • richiebacardi

    Nice one Debs…

    Just watchin sky sports and I’m very impressed by AW’s mathematical ability…re a question of Cesc rumours quote

    Sometimes it’s the simple things that quack me up!

  • Nick

    I’m really tired of the never ending campaign for President at Barcelona. Let it rest until the season is over.

    Congrats to the Gunners. They created a ton of opportunities but could only get 1 goal. Bendtner looked better and had a few great chances that he couldn’t capitalize on.

    Chelsea go down 2-1 to Everton
    Villa ties Man U. 1-1 (thanks to an own goal from Villa). Couldn’t have asked for a better Wednesday.

    I’m confused by all the Chamakh talk. Either sign or shut up. IMO, he’s trying to get someone else to offer him more money.

  • devday

    Awesome debut post Debs!! Now let me read it again :-)

  • http://arsenalandtherandomthoughtsofmylife.blogspot.com/ Debs

    Nothing + nothing is nothing, right? Thought that was brilliant from Arsene!

    Thanks Dev! Learnt from the best, eh? :p But yeah, it’s much easier to write about a win than any other result, though…

  • richiebacardi

    Yup that’s the one Debs…dunno why it didn’t show up on my post.

  • devday

    Yeah, definitely! I just read the 0+0=0… I love it – did you read the statement from Cesc’s dad though?

  • devday

    richiebacardi – how do you track the site? Rss? Facebook or Twitter?

  • http://arsenalandtherandomthoughtsofmylife.blogspot.com/ Debs

    Cesc’s dad? No I didn’t… What did he say?

  • devday

    “If something has to happen – we will see at the end of the season. We would talk.

    “But to be talking about these at the middle of the season – I understand Arsenal being angry.

    “If a club is interested in a player, then it should go to the other club and try to negotiate. This is the way to function always.

    “If this thing has to happen, it has to be this way: Barca going to talk to Arsenal. That goes the same with Cesc and for the rest of the players.

    “Imagine if this could happen to a Barca player. Everybody would be very annoyed with these speculations.

    “This is why I think that the best thing to do it is to leave this thing here, because Cesc belongs to Arsenal.

    “I always think: do not do what you do not want them to do to you. The best thing to do now it is to kill this matter now and that’s it.”

  • http://arsenalandtherandomthoughtsofmylife.blogspot.com/ Debs

    Hmm. Not really sure what to make of his comments. They’re neither here nor there, and they could mean anything. Let’s just wait and see what happens at the end of the season, I guess…

  • Josiah

    injuries to song and arshavin :(

  • goonerman

    NICE POST!! i really dont think cesc will appreciate his dad coming out and saying this like he did but we need to ignore all the fabregas specualtion becuase it makes me feel sick to think of him going to barca lol!

    we could handle the injury to arshavin but song is so vital to the team and i hope the knee injury is really minor!
    wenger thinks he may be back for next weeks champions league game but we should know more soon!

    Cant believe champions league is coming back! HOPEFULLY we put on a show!!

  • Nick

    I’m tired and also a little distraught about the Cesc rumors. I usually don’t pay any attention to them but I’ve got a bad feeling. I loathe Barcelona so it will be doubly painful to watch one of my favorite players leave Arsenal to join Barca (just like Henry did). It didn’t work out so well for Hleb, lol.

    I think the boys will build on the win yesterday and take it to Porto next week. I’m looking/hoping for Bendtner & Walcott to have a great game.

  • Sam

    Good post, Debs.
    You got a break to start on such a wonderful game, and it’s good to see you point it out. You have a bright future.

  • richiebacardi

    @dev I just use the www! I’m on leave for a month and that means I’m in the country sat at home doing absolutely nothing.

    So when I am WOA is always opened on a tab in my browser

  • Al

    Cashly out for 3mnts. lovely

  • http://arsenalandtherandomthoughtsofmylife.blogspot.com/ Debs

    Thanks Sam, that’s really nice of you to say!

  • kodjo

    cashly out for 3 months …feel sorry for him …but that makes things even messy for capello as it brings bridge right back into the frame with terry…one of will have to be dropped or the diplomatic wheels have to spin really fast to avoid any embarassment in the england team….

  • Mehedi

    OK

    I have done all the maths

    We will win the EPL for sure. Why?

    Chelsea has enter and manu has milan and they also has some hard games in the epl

    They obviously have to rest some player in the epl for the cl

    and we have porto

    now, i am not sure if wenger gonna use full team in porto “away” but we should win the epl games in mean tome easily

    until second leg of 16s we should catch up to them easily

    now if Chelsea and manu lose their cl 16s or any one of them

    they will be wounded animal

    but until quarter final of cl we will be above them according to my mathematics, although I am very bad at math.

  • Mehedi

    don’t forget manu, chealsea and loserpool; they all still have to play against each other

  • Sam

    I’ve been trying not to say this till we win this game;

    It’s gonne be a hell of a fight for 4th place between Pool, Citeh (who are in pole position for now), Villa & Sp*rs! I(‘s going to be so nice sitting on top of them while they scramble between them.

  • dampatti

    Arsenal have showed all of us against liverpool that they can fight, they played averagely compared to some of their season games, but what should be remarked on is that we fought for every ball and covered every blade of grass. We wanted to win, we needed to win and the mental strength on display after two crushing defeats was astonishing.

    One small matter that really gets on my nerves is people’s willingness to critize walcott, they are already asking for him to be sold, unbelievable. But funnily enough these same people will come back to congratulate walcott when he scores say the winning goal, they will say they always believed in him. The guy has been injured for a long time, give him a break, don’t you think he’s beating himself up over his perfomances. He just needs to improve his touch and dribbling a little, ok a lot but then i believe he will be converted to one of the most deadliest strikers by wenger.

    Call me crazy but stranger things have happened!!

  • Tony Gahan

    If you are to believe the media, the John Terry affair has brought disgrace on the game we love in the past week. How could he do it to us? And, even worse, he was the England captain. Well – there’s a thing. The only difference between him and the nation’s male sweetheart, his predecessor in the role, is that he did the “dirty” with the former partner of a team-mate – well, lots of team-mates actually. And the part time resident of LA and Milan did it with somebody who “pleasured” a pig on a reality TV show. Classy girls??!! Allegedly…

    No – the real national disgrace in the game and the media is the continued idolising of England and Liverpool’s own Stevie G. In an entertainingly fractious Merseyside derby on Saturday littered with fouls and poor refereeing – no red card for the curly permed Belgian for example – that brought us old timers back to a pre Sky sanitised era, Stevie displayed his talents for all to see. The two standouts were “the starfish” – a personal favourite – and his role as wounded hero in the Pienaar sending off. Both classic Stevie – worthy of Oscar nomination as they had little to do with the laws of the game. A career in the performing arts beckons. The Liverpool centric broadcast media struggled, as they tend to do, to criticise one of their own; particularly one that is so hero worshipped locally and, for many, is the link back to the glory days of yore when they actually used to win a non cup competition or ten. You can feel the tension when little Jamie has to answer a question on this issue on Sky – the only point of comparison is the BBC where they just pretend it hasn’t happened.

    Fast forward to Wednesday and, guess what, under the benevolent gaze of Howard Webb (obviously trying to do his bit for scouse/police relationships) Stevie delivered another masterclass. Blatant dive in the area for a penalty; blatant dive under a non challenge in a defensive position to end the first half; several attempts to influence Webb’s decisions; blatant dive that led to the free kick that led to the handball that led to – well, the final whistle… poor Stevie; left the pitch aggrieved that he didn’t get a penalty (the alleged handball was outside the box but let’s not dwell on the details) that could have levelled the scores. No thought in his mind that it would have been obtained by deception…

    I am sick and fed up of Stevie and his antics. He is the one that is a disgrace to the game – not someone who confines his cheating to off the pitch activities. Yet Stevie will be centre stage in the build up and overhype of South Africa. We will be urged to get behind the boys and support their brave quest (usually, by implication, against cheating foreigners) to bring home the World Cup. We will be urged to forget JT’s indiscretions. As we all get caught up in the moment, as tends to happen, cast your mind back to a freezing night in February where Arsenal were trying to salvage their season and the serial cheating Stevie tried to do his utmost to ensure that, by foul means rather than fair, we were robbed of the chance of doing so. He is above the law on the pitch and off it now – what happens if the becomes Stevie G, Liverpool legend and World Cup Winner? It doesn’t bear thinking about…