Liverpool take a bow. You have mercilessly shattered Arsenal's dreams of a League title and champions league glory in a span of one week. Marvelous.
That was a breathtaking game though. It had so many tense moments I was on the edge of my seat. That was a class encounter.
From the get go, Arsenal attacked relentlessly. Liverpool was thrown on the back foot. Their passes were shaky and often lead to turnovers. They werent even able to step out from their own half. Hell, Gerard, the captain, barely got to see the ball in the first 5 minutes of the game. Near the 10 minutes they had their first attempt of the game. I do remember him dribbling with the ball and getting muscled to the ground by an arsenal defender. As the captain fell to the ground with the defender, he still held on to the ball and passed it safely off to Kuyt. I expected a foul but nothing happened. Gerrard calmy got up and gave the other fallen player a clap on the back to acknowledge his effort.
In terms of posession, Liverpool had a little bit more than Arsenal but that definitely did not tell the tale of the first half hour. Arsenal, with excellent teamwork, passed the ball up to the target with swift precision. Goddamn, their one touch passes were too magnificent to watch. They were too quick.
The first goal was scored by Diaby who sailed to the middle from the right during an arsenal attack. Hleb got the ball. Fabregas made a run to get a pass, Hyppia followed. As a result, Diaby was gifted with huge space in front of his feet. Alonso went to sleep and Hleb sent Diaby running for a ball in the box. Diaby takes a shot and scored. Honestly, Reina should have covered that. He just panicked and immediately fell to his knees as soon as Diaby charged in to the danger zone.
All that in just a little over 10 minutes. I was shocked Arsenal drew first blood away at Anfield.
Surely enough, it took Gerrard a few minutes to get into the game. Hell, at one point, you could tell he was confounded, pacing back and forth in the center circle with a puzzled look on his face. He got into the game after a while, after making some bad decisions and giving away the ball quite a lot though. Had did have some nice shots on the goal.
Liverpool settled down and entered the game gradually. Made some connective passes around to threaten Arsenal's net.
Mascherano runs after every ball. He closes down everything. I swear he is like Wolverine. A short powerful fellow with a stocky structure and extremely quick feet. If he gets even a little sniff of the ball, believe you me, he will rip it apart from you. He slid in at the perfect moment to deny Arsenal's one touch passing strategy. He is pretty decent at passing the ball too.
Alonso usually sent long ball to the wings, further away from pressure to open space for a new direction on the attack.
Liverpool tied it up though, on a corner too. Funny eh? Both teams scored a header from the corner at home. This time it was Sami Hyppia targeting the ball to the far post, going over Fabregas, off the woodwork into the goal. Who the hell puts a short man on the post? It would have been avoided if Arsenal used someone tall to cover the post. Not Fabregas, he tiny yo.
Now the game was tied and the crowd was ecstatic. They expressed their emotions over every action of the game. From infuriated whistles to cheerful jubilations of praise. The Anfield crowd was behind the team throughout the game. It was unbelievable.
I observed that for a tall tree, Crouch has a sick touch. Dribbling may not be that great or his passes may be a bit off but his control is beyond par. Infact he uses his height to major advantage when a long ball is sent to him. He has a remarkably delicate touch on the ball with his head. His head! Goddamn. He just one touch passes it around to other teammates with a header. And whats astounding is its usually on target.
Hell it was his header that sent Torres on through to score the crucial winning goal that will send them on to yet another semi final in Champions league.
Torres didnt really see the ball in the first half but when he did he took on the defence making threatening runs to the goal. He was used on the right flank in the first half. That saw him sending in some crosses into the box after burning the defenders on the flanks. haha one cross hit clichy in the gut and you could tell he said "I'm fu**ed" when he was on the ground clutching his gut.
In the second half he was switched to the left and he absolutely humiliated the Arsenal defence. I am not lieing, he made Toure and Senderos look like school boy defenders. Cuts and fakes with sweet touch and blistering speed.
Near the final 20 mintues of the game, Arsenal were pressuring heavily. Fabregas takes a free kick and its deflected by Kuyt to the other half of the field. Crouch runs to the ball in the air and nicely touches it with his head on through to Torres inside the box. Torres was inside the box with his back to the goal................I began having flashbacks of the game against Inter. Oh sh*t! Senderos you are dead. Torres carefuly caresses the ball to his best foot, non shooting foot goes right beside the ball and he blasts the ball into the upper ninety. My word! That was a textbook finish! This kid is money!
Wenger decided it was to go heavy on the offensive. The gunners only needed a goal to tie the game up and head on through away goal rules. He brought in Van Persie and Theo Walcott.
Didnt really see anything from Van persie but the decision to bring on Walcott played dividends. The kid made a huge impact on the game as he stepped on the field. I must say he is starting to show potential and his money worth. How? He took the ball from his own third and charged up the field, beating Alonso, Hyppia, Mascherano and a couple more with lightning speed and excellent handles. He pulled it back for Addebayor to score. My God! What a play!
haha Addebayor got a bit excited, ran to the other side celebrating in madness completely forgetting Walcott deserves the real applause. He realized a bit later when most of the teammates ran to Theo to congratulate him on a champions league saving play from the youngster.
As they say though, "you are most vulnerable after you score a goal", Arsenal had to fall to the norms of the game as Babel caused alarm in Arsenal's back four as he made a threatening run into the box. He was tripped up in a collision with Toure for the ball and fell to the ground, which caused a very loud uproar in protest from the Anfield crowd. The ref awarded a penalty and Gerrard scored with a nicely placed kick to claw back into the race for European silverware. Heh, makes you ponder the significance of the 12th man eh?
Arsenal tried even harder now and sent everyone up. In stoppage time, they had a free kick, which was cleared away by Kuyt (Damn Kuyt again?!) to the other half of the field and Babel totally burned Fabregas with his pace and scored a goal to secure Liverpool's hopes of champions league glory and leave an unpleasing taste in Arsenal's mouth.