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Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1: Sweet Revenge…Where it Mattered

With the Gunners suffering a drubbing in the hands of yesterday’s opponents a week ago, there was an air of caution at the Emirates. With half an eye on the crunch Champions League clash against Bayern Munich, Arsene Wenger made a couple of changes to the squad with Lukasz Fabianski, Carl Jenkinson, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Lukas Podolski and to everyone’s surprise, Yaya Sanogo getting a run out.

Liverpool were the quickest off the blocks with Steven Gerrard feeding Daniel Sturridge on the edge of the area. The English forward blasted a one-timed shot that was saved by Fabianski. Luis Suarez chipped a delicate ball to Sturridge’s path and the striker skipped past Fabianski but his shot hit the side netting.

Shortly after Monreal got himself booker for a nasty challenge on Joe Allen, Sanogo and the Ox combined superbly on the right flank but the ball ran out of the line before the Ox could cross it into the danger area. Arsenal’s first meaningful attack arrived when Per Mertesacker flicked a corner with a looping header but Brad Jones was on hand to tip it over the bar.

Arsenal’s breakthrough arrived when Mikel Arteta’s cross was deflected into Sanogo’s path. The French striker blasted the ball on Daniel Agger’s back before the Ox reacted the quickest to place the ball past Jones.

Raheem Sterling skipped past Jenkinson on the right and bore down on goal but his shot slammed the side netting. Arsenal swiftly launched a counter attack but Podolski sliced his effort wide. Ozil instigated another attacking move with a lovely pass to Podolski but with Sanogo in acres of space, Poldi’s cross was rather erratic.

Luis Suarez got on the end of a long ball and blasted a first-timed shot that was saved by Fabianski. In the start of the second half, Suarez had another chance that was saved by the Flying Fab. With Liverpool failing to take the  initiative, Arsenal launched a counter attack and when the Ox cut the ball into the danger area, Podolski reacted first to blast the ball past Jones.

With Suarez missing yet another chance, Arsenal almost made their lead more comfortable when Ozil blasted a goal bound effort that was failed superbly by Jones. Suarez won a penalty for his side after he was brought down courtesy of a clumsy challenge by Podolski. Gerrard sent Fabianski the wrong way to break Arsenal’s long standing clean sheet record at the Emirates.

Suarez was blatantly fouled by the Ox afterwards but Liverpool’s appeals fell on deaf ears. Arsene Wenger brought on Santi Cazorla for Podolski and he was gifted a chance by Martin Skrtel but he blasted his shot over the bar.

Kieran Gibbs came on for the Ox to add some defensive stability but an error from Laurent Koscielny allowed Liverpool a foray at Arsenal’s goal but Suarez’ shot was saved by Fabianski. After a couple of half chances from Liverpool, Wenger brought on Giroud to replace Sanogo.

Late on, there was a comical moment when Fabianski attempted to waste some time by tying his shoelaces but Sturridge did him the honors and told him to get on with the game.

The ref’s whistle was last music to the ears of Arsenal fans as they have booked a place in the FA Cup quarterfinals against another Merseyside outfit, Everton.


Questions Raised From Arsenal’s Shocking Performance at Anfield


There’s no point reliving the horror moments of Arsenal’s shambolic outing on Saturday, but one must wonder how the Gunners are going to pick themselves up for what proves to be a crucial Premier League encounter against a stuttering Manchester United team. Even with the acquisition of Juan Mata, their fortunes haven’t changed for the better and I’m sure many Arsenals fans would be hoping that their team gets maximum points on Wednesday.

In the wake of Arsenal’s shameful defeat to Liverpool, some questions have been raised from a faction of the Arsenal faithful and they are worth sharing in today’s post.

Did Arsene Wenger Get it Wrong With his Team Selection?

Arsene Wenger has always been lauded for getting things right with his starting XI but one must wonder if he made a few errors in his selection on Saturday. I and many Arsenal fans out there would always rate Kieran Gibbs over Nacho Monreal but I could give Wenger the benefit of the doubt here because Gibbs’ fitness has been a concern in recent times.


Monreal had a putrid outing

I also feel that Tomas Rosicky should have featured from the start ahead of the Ox on the right, as he has been used to devastating effect in most of our “big games” this season. He came on for a poor Mesut Ozil but under the circumstances he failed to have any influence on the game whatsoever.

I just hope that Wenger would do better in his selection for the Manchester United game.

Where Was the Influence from the Midfield?

When Liverpool visited Arsenal at the Emirates, the game was won in the midfield and Aaron Ramsey reigned supreme on the night. With the Welsh Dragon still out injured, Arsenal started the game with Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere in the heart of the middle while Mesut Ozil played as the creative hub of the team with the Ox and Santi Cazorla cutting in from the flanks.

With Mathieu Flamini still suspended, it was painful seeing Arteta run ragged by the likes of Jordan Henderson and the legendary Steven Gerrard. Wilshere tried to make a couple of his trademark lung-bursting runs to no avail. The wingers didn’t even help the team’s cause but the Ox did well to win a penalty for his side that was converted by Arteta.

Is it Time to Send Mesut Ozil to the Bench Due to his Poor Run of Form?

According to Gooner of Steel, Ozil made no attempts at goal, made 4 unsuccessful crosses and made no through ball. For a creative player of Ozil’s caliber, that was quite poor. He was also guilty of losing the ball for the 3rd and 4th goal and when you compare both (Carzola and Ozil) performances against other big games this season, it is not quite good.


Ozil has been playing within himself recently and he could do with a goal or two to bring his confidence back. There’s no better game to win the hearts of the fans back with a goal against the old enemy, Manchester United. I don’t think Ozil deserves to be benched though, he’s one of the best players in the club and you would need your best players to step up and be counted.

Form is temporary, class is permanent.

Why did the Defense Capitulate with Consummate Ease?

Arsenal’s defense has been the envy of the Premier League this season with 11 clean sheets to their name and there was also the long-standing record of the team never losing with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny playing together. On a day where nothing seemed to go right for the Gunners, they were duly punished by a rampant Liverpool attack.

13/14: Liverpool v Arsenal - Wojciech Szczesny

Koscielny didn’t mark Martin Skrtel well for his headed goal and he was exposed again when Coutinho’s pass tore the defense to allow Daniel Sturridge place the fourth goal home. Mertesacker’s lack of pace was exposed for the first time in a long while and his performance was nothing to write home about.

The Mertesienly defensive axis will have to do better against Manchester United.

How Would the Gunners Respond to Such a Demoralizing Defeat?

Instead of feeling sorry for yourselves or the players, it is time to get behind the team, with 13 games to go in the league season. Arsenal have responded well to defeats this season. We won 8 and drew 1 game in a row after the opening day loss to Aston Villa. After the loss at Old Trafford, we won 3 and drew 1, and after the 6-3 drubbing at the Etihad, we have won 6 and drawn 2. - Blazing Cannons

Arsenal’s responses to defeats this season have been encouraging and I expect a more cohesive and refined performance against a shaky Manchester United side.

Do you have more questions on the performance? Feel free to share them with your comments.


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Liverpool 5 Arsenal 1: The Gunners Capitulate in Grand Style


Anfield (Premier League)

Liverpool: Skrtel (1′, 10′), Sterling (17′, 52′), Sturridge (20′)

Arsenal: Arteta (69′ pen)

Player Ratings (via Gooner of Steel)Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

After the long wait, a true test of Arsenal’s character was to begin with a trip to Anfield before crucial clashes against Manchester United, Liverpool again and Bayern Munich.

Arsene Wenger made some alterations to the team that picked up maximum points against Crystal Palace as Jack Wilshere’s swift return from injury saw the Ox drafted to the right wing with Lukas Podolski losing his place yet again. I was also concerned when Nacho Monreal was selected ahead of Kieran Gibbs but I’d figured that Gibbsy wasn’t fully fit. I was trying to get a seat to watch the game when Steven Gerrard swung in a cross that was nodded home by an unmarked Martin Skrtel.

Shortly afterwards, Santi Cazorla threaded a neat pass to Olivier Giroud in behind the Liverpool rearguard. Instead of lashing a shot at goal with his favorite left foot, Giroud inexplicably chose to attempt a tame dribble and he was easily bullied off the ball by Skrtel. On the other end, Daniel Sturridge fashioned a chance for himself and let one rip but Wojciech Szczesny was equal to the challenge.

Jack Wilshere made one of his trademark intelligent runs before noticing Monreal lurking on Flanagan’s blind side. Wilshere’s dinked pass missed its intended target but in a twist of fate, Simon Mignolet invoked the spirit of Manuel Almunia to send the ball crashing on a bewildered Flanagan. With Monreal alert to the chance, Skrtel was on hand to play it out for a corner.

Sturridge and Flanagan made mince meat of Monreal on the right but the young fullback’s cross was blocked by an onrushing Szczesny. Gerrard lofted in the corner and Skrtel got ahead of Koscielny to nod Liverpool’s second goal in just 10 minutes, sending Anfield into rapture.

Philip Coutinho located Sturridge with a first-timed pass and with the Englishman one on one with Szczesny, he chose to attempt a delicate chip that sailed effortlessly wide. Raheem Sterling made a fool out of Bacary Sagna and ran at the Arsenal defense before supplying a cut back that was cleared by an exasperated Wilshere. Gerrard executed a training ground move that fell to Luis Suarez’s path and the Uruguayan maverick slammed the post with a peach of a volley. The follow up fell to Kolo Toure but he couldn’t play the ball into an unguarded net.

Arsenal mustered an attack through a Santi Cazorla corner kick but Per Mertesacker’s flick to the far post wasn’t attacked by any of his teammates. Arsenal became the plotters of their own downfall yet again as Mesut Ozil was robbed off the ball further up the pitch but a swift counter attack saw Suarez tee up Sterling for an easy tap in.

To compound Arsenal’s misery, Coutinho threaded another defense-splitting pass to Sturridge and he had all the time in the world to control the ball and pick his spot to make it four. The most shocking part was the mere fact that Arsenal still had 70 minutes to play.

13/14: Liverpool v Arsenal - Wojciech Szczesny

Giroud was having a horrible day at the office but his lethargic play and poor ball control didn’t help his cause either. Arsenal began the second half with more zeal and Wilshere did pretty well to win a free kick on the edge of the area. However, Cazorla chose to kill a bird with a goal gaping at him.

Things went from bad to worse for Arsenal when Sterling skipped past the defenders and left them for dead before firing a shot that was parried by Szczesny. Sterling was allowed to have a second bite of the cherry and his goal made it 5-0. Giroud flicked the ball goalwards but it was an easy save for Mignolet. That was Arsenal’s first meaningful attack  after 56 minutes.

Arsene Wenger made wholesale changes with Lukas Podolski, Tomas Rosicky and Kieran Gibbs all coming in at the same time for the disappointing combo of Giroud, Ozil and Monreal. Suarez also scored from an audacious free kick but Szcesny was on hand to make a very good save. With Arsenal’s defense in shambles, Jordan Henderson was clean on goal but he tried to chip the ball, sending in wide.


Arsenal scored a consolation goal when Gerrard tripped the Ox in the box. Arteta stepped up and blasted the spot kick through the middle. He also had a free kick that was saved by Mignolet. Late on, there were efforts from Coutinho and Sterling that were saved by Szczesny.

The final whistle was a relief as I saw the disappointing Gunners walk off the field in shame following a putrid performance. I’ve seen some horrible outings from my team but this one would go down as one of the worst in a long while. Even in the wake of such a resounding defeat, Arsene Wenger’s post-match press conference was as classic as you’d expect.

The Gunners have a crucial match against Manchester United as at this point in time, the confidence of the squad is at its nadir. But as the Ox has stated, we must turn this around.


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Liverpool Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Luis Suarez Arsenal v Liverpool Premier League 02112013

For those that don’t know, Anfield has become a happy hunting ground for the Gunners as Arsene Wenger and his troops have managed to edge out their hosts with three victories in the last four encounters at Anfield. Arsenal’s last Premier League defeat on this ground was as far back as 2007, when a superb Peter Crouch hat-trick won the game for the hosts. In the 12 meetings between the two sides since then, Liverpool have only managed one victory – 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium in August 2011.

Following Chelsea’s surprise win at the Etihad Stadium, the Gunners hold a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League and they are about to enter a very tough run of fixtures that will see them play Manchester United on Tuesday, Liverpool in the FA Cup and the hosting of the defending European champions, Bayern Munich.

After Arsenal defeated Liverpool at the Emirates in November, Brendan Rodgers declared his side out of the title race but Liverpool were on top at Christmas before successive losses to Manchester City and Chelsea sent them further down the chasing pack. Their crosstown rivals, Everton, are breathing down their necks for the final coveted Champions League spot they currently occupy.

Liverpool have only conceded eight goals at home this season but they have only managed to win one of their last 13 league games (W1, D7, L5) against Arsenal and have won none of the last six at Anfield. Liverpool have scored 15 goals from set pieces compared to Arsenal’s five and they also top the League for the amount of goals scored on the counter attack with five, showcasing their attacking prowess.

However, Liverpool have made 29 errors leading to a goal or attempt at goal this season – the most in the top flight and Martin Skrtel tops the league with the most amount of own goals scored with two. The Gunners would be hoping for a third own goal from the Slovak.

Much will be talked about the world-famous S.A.S that has ripped defenses apart this season. In the 11 league games that Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have played together this season, the only team to stop them both scoring is Arsenal.


Luis Suarez has scored 23 goals in only 19 Premier League games this season while Daniel Sturridge has scored in 13 of his 16 league appearances this season, scoring 14 in total. The Englishman’s goal against West Brom was his 50th in the Premier League. He is the 10th English player to reach that landmark before turning 25.

Sturridge has attempted 49 shots of which 27 were on target, giving him an accuracy of 55%. However, he has only managed to convert 29% of his chances and half of his clear-cut chances with eight. He has created 15 chances from open play and three of these resulted in assists.

Arsene Wenger has even acknowledged that he has to keep S.A.S quiet to get something out of the game,

“We need to dominate the game in order to keep [Luis] Suarez and [Daniel] Sturridge quiet. We must control possession.

“We had some good wins at Anfield. I have a lot of respect for the fans there, they know their football.”I think Liverpool are strong offensively with Sturridge, Suarez, [Philippe] Coutinho, [Raheem] Sterling and [Steven] Gerrard.

“Liverpool are in a better position than to when we last played them. They have momentum with them.”

Arsenal are chasing a third successive league win at Anfield. The last time they managed that feat was between 10 February 1973 and 9 November 1974.  Arsenal were the last team to stop Liverpool scoring in the league and their goalie, Wojciech Szczesny, has the more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper in the league this season with 11.

Arsenal’s tally of 26 points won away from home is the joint best in the top flight, along with Tottenham and since the resounding loss to Manchester City in December, the Gunners are unbeaten in eight league games (W6, D2) despite failing to score a first-half goal in seven of those matches.

To injuries, the Gunners welcome back Jack Wilshere (ankle), while fellow midfielder Mikel Arteta (calf) should also feature. Aaron Ramsey (thigh) suffered a setback, Thomas Vermaelen (knee), Kim Kallstrom (back) will play no part, and Mathieu Flamini is suspended.

Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby (both knee) are long-term absentees.

Liverpool on the other hand, will once again be unable to call on defenders Daniel Agger (calf), Glen Johnson (ankle/groin) and Mamadou Sakho (hamstring). Midfielder Lucas Leiva and defender Jose Enrique (both knee) are also unavailable.

To team news, the Gunners would be hopeful that Santi Cazorla steps up yet again against the team he has scored twice in his last three appearances. The Spaniard has created 33 chances for his team with 25 of these coming from open play. However, only three have been recorded as assists. His most recent assist came against Crystal Palace where he threaded a beautiful pass to the Ox that finished aplomb.

The Gunners will also be hinging their hopes on the mercurial Mesut Ozil, that has the second most assists (8) in the league behind Wayne Rooney’s nine. Olivier Giroud says that he wants the team to prove their doubters wrong – we could do with some goals from the bloke today.

My predicted lineups for both sides are,

Liverpool 4-4-2 football formationArsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation


ahead of the game. Arsène Wenger can underline the point with a victory, but this is the first in a sequence of matches that will test the Gunners’ resolve to go the distance.

They have not buckled so far, but it is trips to Anfield that are often the definition of championship material.

Liverpool Match Preview: Time to Create Some Space at the Top

At this point in the season, even the biggest optimists wouldn’t have imagined that Arsenal and Liverpool would be involved in a vital top of the table clash with a place at the summit of the table up for grabs.

Since Arsenal’s opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the Gunners went on a winning spree that was halted albiet temporarily at the hands of West Brom but the Gunners returned to winning ways in the league with a nervy win over Crystal Palace. Liverpool on the other hand have been in a rich vein of form, and they have only lost one match at home to Southampton.

The Gunners haven’t lost to Liverpool at home since August 2011 in a game the Reds got the goals from Luis Suarez and Raul Meireles. The last time both sides met at the Emirates, Suarez and Jordan Henderson got the away side ahead but the Gunners fought back with goals from Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud.

The goals have been flowing like water for Suarez this season since his return from his match ban and the Uruguayan forward and Daniel Sturridge have combined to score 14 out of Liverpool ‘s 17 goals in the Premier League so far this season. Olivier Giroud was in a temporary goal drought in the league but it was ended when he latched onto Aaron Ramsey ‘s inch-perfect chip against Crystal Palace.

Chelsea’s lunch time result against Newcastle will have an impact on this fixture and the Gunners need a victory to give themselves some space from Liverpool at the top. In Arsenal’s last six games in the league, they have recorded five victories at the draw against West Brom while Liverpool has amassed three victories, two draws and a loss.

To injuries, Mathieu Flamini remains sidelined with a groin injury, Walcott is still recuperating from his abdominal surgery and Serge Gnabry is still our with an ankle problem. On the bright side, Lukas Podolski posted on Instagram that he’s back to full fitness, Yaya Sanogo is on his way to fitness while the Ox and About Diaby are still long term absentees.

For Liverpool, there are still doubts over the fitness of Jose Enrique (knee) while Iago Aspas (thigh) and Sebastian Coates (knee) are still some way off first team football.

To team news, I’d expect a better and stronger lineup from the team that struggled badly against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup. Wojciech Szczesny would return in goal to replace Lukas Fabianski while Arsenal’s preferable defensive lineup of Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and thankfully, Bacary Sagna would resume normal service at the back.

With Mikel Arteta returning from his suspension, I expect him to start as Arsenal’s holding midfielder alongside Aaron Ramsey. Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Tomas Rosicky will start in the attacking midfield roles while Olivier Giroud will spearhead the attack after Nicklas Bendtner ‘s horror showing on Tuesday night.

The game promises to be a feisty encounter and I hope Arsenal does enough to ease out the threat Liverpool would pose because this is regarded as a true test for both sides.



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