When I saw the team sheet before kick off I thought oh no, this looks like the lineup that played in the 0-0 draw against Spurs at home. Suarez on his own is not good, no Gerrard i wasn’t that bothered about, he may be the captain and all that but performance wise he hasn’t been too good, but Spearing is no where near a replacement.
To say the least I was pessimistic even before kick off. I’ve got every faith in the manager, he’s done well for us this season, but at home we have been poor, 8 draws at home in first 12 games is now a record, one most teams wouldn’t want.
We started well, getting a few corners and coming close with one with a Kelly effort. Midfield was very cramped with a lot of short passing, going sideways and back more than forward, all a little scrappy. 3 offside calls in the first 6 minutes shows we were trying to make chances, which was a positive thing. Pepe saved a Walcott effort which was goal bound which was a right scare, and fair to say it would have been against the run of play. Szczesny was one on one in an opposite chance against Suarez and did extremely well to come out early and stop the Uruguayan from breaking the deadlock.
Wasted opportunity after 15 mins with Suarez and Hendo against one defender, but the ball was played a bit early and came to nothing. Positive stuff so far though, and a good game to watch. Another chance few mins later with a cracking ball to Downing, but he opted to try and control rather than shoot.
Penalty at 17 minutes with Suarez being brought down, looked a bit more theatrical, and the poor penalty taking continues with Kuyt missing. If the ref gave the penalty he should have given the red card as well, these rules are always different depending on the game which is stupid. With a quick counter and a masterful defence splitting pass from Spearing of all people, leads to an own goal by Koscielny gives Liverpool the lead, and deservedly too. 1-0.
It was all Liverpool after the goal with pressure and solid defending, Henderson, Adam and Enrique having a particularly good spell. And then as if out of nowhere, a fantastic cross by Sagna is met by the in form Persie for a standard centre forward header to make it 1-1.
Liverpool seemed a little shocked after the goal and a pressing a lot less, Arsenal getting some confidence back understandably. It’s been end to end stuff so far and I was able to calm down a bit. And a chance for the players to simmer after a foul on Rosicky by Spearing, although it looked like a quality tackle to me. Suarez seemed to have his confidence back with a mazy dribble that was so close to a goal at 40 mins, a goal seemed to be just minutes away for the striker.
Liverpool dominated the first half with plenty of chances against arsenals two. Spearing had been bossing the midfield with some firm but fair tackling, Henderson looking confident on the ball and Suarez up to his old tricks giving Arsenals defence plenty to deal with, Liverpool players wishing the half could continue whilst Arsenal looking forward to that half time whistle. Carry on like this and iron out the sloppiness in the final ball and the 3 points should be with us.
Second half started with some more neat midfield play but falling short in the final third. Play was halted by a significant spell when Henderson accidentally ran into Arteta, and was stretchers off, he looked a bit dodgy in the first half so an injury looked inevitable. Arsenal began dominating the possession after the break, however falling short of a final ball or a chance, with the Liverpool defence stifling their attack.
A clear chance came at the 60 minute mark with a great cross from Adam and an even better header from Skrtel but Kelly couldn’t quite make it. Play was then stopped again with a collision in the box resulting in Vermaelen being floored. He then responded by crashing into Suarez and got himself booked, deserved it too. Half chance came after with a lucky last touch by Koscielny, Liverpool back on top again.
Temp returned to the fast paced speed of the first half at 70 minutes in after a scrappy quarter hour with only the one clear chance, Carragher almost being beat in the same position as the van Persie goal. Arsenal came agonisingly close to sneaking a goal but was stopped by Reinas leg, you could almost feel Liverpool were about to be punished for wasting clear chances throughout the game. Sagna then became the third player (all arsenal) to go down taking a few minutes with him. Same old Arsenal, always cheating.
With 15 minutes left it looked almost certain that something was going to happen to change the game, looking more like Liverpool than Arsenal with chance after chance coming in, mostly from Kuyt who was having a brilliant afternoon so far. But that quickly started becoming desperate plays to get that goal resulting in stray passes and dribbles when they should have been passes. But we were still attacking so it still looked like we could get the win.
With 5 mins left in normal time it was nervy, and the performance was still dipping, Adam lacking the vision to see Henderson in a great position before being fouled by Ox which should have been a free kick but wasn’t, the crowd starting to stop singing as usual as well. With Bellamy coming on it got a bit more interesting. The officials gave the game a monstrous 8 minutes of injury time so there was still plenty of time to go.
In the 92nd minute Arsenal punished our wastefulness with a great finish by van Persie, as much of a piss take it was we have had enough chances to thrash Arsenal but we didn’t. Same old story, just can’t find that goal at the end of all our laboured play. Massive win for Arsenal and a massive loss for us, that looks like us out off the 4th spot play and our first Anfield defeat of the season. We had good bits of the game but really, this was an awful, awful afternoon to watch.