Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool, Match Report
Arsenal took on Liverpool at the Emirates yesterday afternoon in a what was for 62 minutes a well contested open game, that ended in a 1-1 draw.
The match started off a little shakily for Arsenal but as the first half progressed they started to take more of a grip on the game.
Here’s how the Gunners lined up at the start:
Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy,
Denilson, Fabregas (Diaby 46), Song Billong, Nasri (Eboue 90),
Adebayor, Van Persie.
The Gunners went ahead with a great goal from Robin Van Persie, the returning Samir Nasri threaded an exquisite pass through to Van Persie, who took a good touch to get outside of the flailing Jamie Carragher and drilled the ball past Reina. Like I said, it was a great ball from Nasri, yet Van Persie still had some work to do to score the goal and he did so excellently, showing great composure and strength to hold off the defender, and finishing with some style.
Liverpool equalised shortly before half time when Daniel Agger hoofed a clearance upfield to Keane, who left the struggling Djourou behind and hammered his shot over Almunia with a right foot volley.
Unfortunately however, the main talking point from this game and indeed what everyone will remember is not the football, but referee Howard Webb’s incredulous sending off of Emmanuel Adebayor. I’m not really someone who likes to criticise referees except from perhaps when muttering to myself under my breath, but to say that Adebayor’s sending off was slightly dubious would be like saying the Archbishop of Canterbury is slightly religious. Adebayor was booked twice for tackles where he made little to no contact with the opposing player and showed no malice or intent to harm in his challenges.
It was a real shame because poor decisions from the referee changed the face of the game and for me ruined what would have been a good contest. Howard Webb really had a shocker of a game; if you contrast Webb’s rediculous sending off of Adebayor to how he dealt with Liverpool midfielder Leizi Lucas’ consistent cynical fouling (Lucas must have made about 10 bad challenges before he got booked and Adebayor got booked with his first tackle) it looks even worse.
Let’s have a couple of quotes from the Arsenal staff on Webb’s sending off of Adebayor for good measure;
Adebayor said after the game:
“The defender threw himself on the floor as if I put a knife in him.
Of course I’m annoyed. I cannot say he cheated but what he did wasn’t fair play.
I hope when the referee goes home and watches it on the TV, he will see it was a foul but I didn’t deserve a card. It was a mistake. He said it was for the leg but if I don’t put my body in there I would never score a goal. We have to protect the ball.”
While Wenger was quoted as saying:
“I would love to have sendings-off like that at home when we get kicked off the park, it was very soft. The first booking wasn’t justified either. It is just unbelievable. If he sends Adebayor off, he has to send Keane off in the first half. We have two different rules.
“Every week, when we play away from home, you say: ‘People get in your faces and you cannot cope.’ Have you seen anybody sent off? Do you want me to show you our players after the game? It’s a joke. We would have won. They [Liverpool players] know Adebayor didn’t touch him. I can’t tell you what I said to the fourth official at the end. It would be good for your newspapers, but not for me.”
The bad news is that the F.A. are unlikely to overturn this decision due to the rules regarding second yellow cards so it looks like Adebayor will get a 3 match ban and miss the boxing day trip to Aston Villa.
More bad news for us was that Fabregas limped off at half time after coming off worse in a 50-50 challenge with Xavi Alonso and suffering suspected damage to his knee ligaments that will almost certainly see him miss the Villa game, although there is no news right now about how long he will be out for.
There are some positives I feel Arsenal fans can take away from the game though, with 10 men the team showed the heart and belly for a battle that has been missing for most of the season. Almunia had a better game too I thought, he wasn’t at fault for the Keane goal, Keane struck his shot too well for Almunia to do anything about it, and I thought Almunia, along with the rest of the defence looked more composed on set pieces and corners, which is a good sign after his recent nervy performances.
I thought Samir Nasri made a great return to action, his pass to Van Persie for the opening goal was sublime and Nasri battled well for the whole game and made some excellent contributions.