A Game Of Two Halves

Arsenal repeated a bit of history yesterday as it was the first time since 2003 that Liverpool had lost a game at Anfield after taking the lead. Arsenal were the team responsible in '03 and here they are 6 years later at it again.

It was a very clear cut game straight down the middle, we saw one Liverpool the first half and another one the second. Again you could argue luck was not on our side, the referee made some bad decisions and many other things but I'm not really one for excuses this time out.

Liverpool started brilliantly, with the re-ignition of the Gerrard and Torres partnership it wasn't long before the pair were back to old tricks. Most notably the brilliant link up when Gerrard finds himself in space on a great run Fernando Torres has already set off, awaiting that perfect ball through. Gerrard waits and waits until he places the perfect pass to the feet of the number 9, in a position we've seen him score from so many times before, his attempt to bend it round the keeper would just not happen this time and Almunia collected.

The Gerrard and Torres partnership was not the only means of attacking pressure though as Glen Johnson was also a constant threat to a nervy looking Arsenal side in the first half. Several times Johnson found himself powering into the box with one of his lengthy runs from defence, and causing problems each time. He was arguably "too honest" at one stage when a poor tackle came in whilst on a run into the penalty area but the England international was proud enough to stay on his feet and get the cross in.

The first half was a threatening one from Liverpool and Arsenal had to resort to a few crunching tackles and many a foul. Mascherano appeared to suffer the brunt of all this after being on the receiving end of several bad tackles. When what appeared to be a knee/thigh injury kept him on the ground it was most likely that Rafa would be needing to make a substitution but the Argentine was brilliant and was determined to carry on, after being taken off the pitch he continued to play even though you could still see he was in some trouble. He went on to play 60 minutes - trooper.

All this attacking and no end product was becoming all too familiar for my liking as i was watching this weeks super Sunday clash and as it pushed closer to half time it was obvious we needed a goal to go along with all this effort. After Liverpool were earlier rejected a penalty after William Gallas tripped Gerrard in the box it could have already been a different story. So many times this debate comes up and so many times it is right so why is it not enforced?

If that incident occurred outside of the box a free kick would have been awarded, therefore it is a penalty no?

The most pathetic reasoning i heard for it not being given after the game was that Gerrard was arguably not in control of the ball at the time of the foul. That is possibly the biggest load of bullshit i have ever heard, if Gerrard is making an attacking run into the penalty area with the ball in his possession whether the ball goes to the right, to the left or stays at his feet the challenge was unlawful and therefore a penalty. Ball was no longer in his control, pfft suck it up Dixon, he had it in more control than you ever had a football in your career sunshine.

Thankfully we did not have to rely on a bad decision as Liverpool did in fact go on to score~

Step up Dirk Kuyt, after the ball entered the penalty area from an Aurelio free kick it eventually found it's way to the Dutchman who fired the ball into the back of the net with a confident strike.

As the clock ticked down to half-time a deserved goal from Liverpool was what separated the two teams. There was still way more to come and you can never throw the idea of an Arsenal come back out the window but with one goal down and that kind of play a 2-1 win for Liverpool was becoming foreseeable. Let's be honest we all knew we were going to concede but the 3 points were still on.

Second half and no changes from both teams.

Barely ten minutes in and Arsenal find an equalizer in the luckiest of options. After a cross came in from Nasri, an adjusting Jamie Carragher attempted to get the block in on the already deflected cross, after unsuccessfully getting the ball away Johnson finds himself at speed now left to clear it when he fumbles and almost walks the ball into the net after being unable to change his footing. Unbelievable and most unlucky but Reina was spot on when he immediately patted Johsnon on the back of the head and began clapping and shouting in order too boost the defence and forget about that incident as quickly as possible.

I knew it, you knew it, and to be fair, Reina probably knew it too, he has never kept a clean sheet against Arsenal and after the way Liverpool have been of late it was imminent that Arsenal would get a goal. The task was still what it was at half time, go out and secure the win.

Just 10 minutes later and a completely different Liverpool from the first half had still not settled when up popped the Russian maestro. Arshavin finds himself with the ball on the edge of the penalty area and before Reina could even acknowledge the shot coming in it was already in the back of the net. Simples.

Arsenal were revelling in success and Arshavin was beginning to realise how much he really does like Anfield. With half an hour still to go, we needed to get sorted, and fast.

2 substitutions in the 65-75 minute window meant that Liverpool would have some fresh legs and a new attacking threat. After Aquilani came on for a bruised and clattered Mascherano and Benayoun was replaced with David N'Gog it was there in the headlines for the Italian or Frenchman to get the equalizer.

Even after a third substitution when Johnson was replaced with Degen despite a lively ending from Liverpool, Arsenal walked away with all three points. Just what they wanted and just what we didn't.

After Villa capitalized ultimately on Saturday by beating Manchester United, a feat which i would usually celebrate, we find ourselves in even more trouble. With Man City above us complete with game in hand and Tottenham sitting on 27 points a win against Wigan in the week is essential.

I just hope the Wigan that beat Chelsea don't turn up, more so the one that lost 9-1 to Spurs. Strange team though they are, i don't feel confident in any fixture at the moment home or away all i know is that this simply can't go on forever and it won't.

If we have a team that is still capable of beating Manchester United and Everton then no matter how those games panned out, that at least indicates the ability that is there. I don't know how, i don't know where and i don't know when but there will be a turning point for our season, and providing we can keep hold of a fully fit squad we WILL get that 4th spot.

We don't need all this negativity now, we already know this season is not ours and every club is entitled to a shoddy one. I'm sure you all remember the days of actually finishing in 7th, well that isn't going to happen. Stick by the manager, stick by the team and keep the faith.

What would football be without miracles and tragedy's anyway?

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