Gusty rotation, Ox and Fabianski (and Howard Webb) Help Put Anfield in the Rear View

Arsenal – Liverpool: 2-1

The Ox was unleashed today!
The Ox was unleashed today!


So many themes, so much riding on an FA cup match (sandwiched amidst even tougher or more important matches), and Arsenal get the needed result.  It wasn’t pretty and frailties in the team were on display, but players stepped up, took opportunities, and created a result that will help put the horror of eight days ago behind us.  With a new frontline of Poldolski, Sanogo and Oxlade-Chamberlain and rotation at goalkeeper and both fullbacks, Gooners had to be holding their breath on this one.  If we could take the result—and only a win would do, even contemplating a return to Anfield for a replay might require a change of undergarments—with this team, it would deepen the squad ahead of the match with Bayern Munich and must-wins in the Premier League.  A loss or a draw would mean Liverpool probably deserved to be seen as our superior, and holding them off for the (guaranteed) CL spot (3rd) would become the new narrative…

Before the match, the voices of doom echoed a standard refrain:  Wenger was sacrificing the (more winnable) FA Cup for the brighter spotlight of the Champions League.  Yaya Sanogo?!  In on a free, injured for months, to start the match!?  Lucas Poldolski, a player with the opposite reputation (he’s old, well capped by a strong national team, etc.) but also underused this season would start alongside the lanky Frenchman.  And then there’s the Ox?  Is he a natural replacement for Theo Walcott or is he an extra defensive midfielder?  Would his presence signify a boost to our sagging attack or that we were playing (as on Wednesday vs Manchester United) simply not to lose?

From the kick-off, Liverpool appeared dangerous.  Knowing that referee Howard Webb would try to calm the match with whistles in the middle of the pitch, observers had to know that set pieces would be a key.   And so it was.  The match started with strong Liverpool attacks but ones which only found Daniel Sturridge pushed onto his weaker right foot.  One was well saved by Fabianski; another found only side netting.  Amongst these, our defense had to marshal various set pieces and corners.  With Webb at the whistle, the Liverpudlians by way of South America (Coutinho and Suarez) made a meal of every contact, while Sterling and Sturridge were also extreme challenges for our slower right side (Jenkinson and Mertesacker) and not much faster left side (Koscielny and Monreal).  In the early minutes, Nacho looked well worked and a weak link but he worked his way back into the match (after an early yellow), and Koscielny again showed why he is one of the best in world football.

On the other hand, while I would’ve preferred more calm possession in the middle of the pitch, we also pressed the large openings.  Oxlade-Chamberlain in particular looked up for his chance and won (and took and overhit) an early corner and certainly looked lively.  Meanwhile, the large presence of Yaya Sanogo took some time to appreciate, appearing alternately skilled and unschooled, taking touches that appeared both cultured and comical.

Gloriously, we got past 5 minutes without conceding, 10 minutes passed and then 15, and a bit of a pattern was setting in.  Clearly set-pieces and quick attacks (mostly resulting in corners) were the order of the day and the first goal would be the key.  If Pool got it, we would need two (to avoid the replay), but if we did, they might have to come out even more.  At 16 minutes it fell to Arsenal.  A corner was cleared wide to Özil who, scanning his targets as if it were a free kick, floated it towards the stacked towers of Mertesacker and Sanogo, the latter chesting down and pounding a shot which was blocked but fell kindly to Oxlade-Chamberlain.  Still, it took full concentration and the twenty year-old was up to it, blasting it at waist level past Keeper Jones.   YESSSSSS!!!!

The remainder of the half saw Arsenal, with a lead now to defend, begin to shore up and keep better shape, content to try and play on the break.  Liverpool carved decent opportunities, but Suarez, who really is the class player in all of England if not the world, was mostly playing provider rather than finisher.  As long as we kept him out of the pool, er the 18 yard box, where his diving (and finishing) skills might hurt us, we looked OK.  His best effort was a wonderfully curled cross, to which young Sterling should probably have gotten.  Maybe in a couple of years… The speedy kid also had a fine chance to go to ground after rounding Jenkinson but instead tried to score.  If Suarez stays at Liverpool, Sterling will learn…

Unfortunately our own counter-attack appeared tame.  Poldolski cannot provide more than 10 yards of sustained pace and Ozil, Yaya and the Ox were unable to combine to any real effect.  1-nil at halftime, however, felt a whole lot better than 4-nil 8 days ago.

Both teams adjusted well and clearly had new intent after the break.   Almost directly from the kickoff, Suarez rounded Nacho too easily and played it to Flanagan who got it back to Suarez in the box with time and space to do his thing.  A touch onto his right foot beat Koscielny but made the angle tougher. The incredible reaction speed of Fabianski allowed him to foot-block his shot to the far post.  Wow!

Almost before Gooners could appreciate that save, Jenkinson won possession on the right byline, hit a fast first time ball to the Ox, who played a magnificent 1-2 with Ozil.  The Ox took one perfect touch to round the defender and buy time to size up his pass, which was inch-perfect for Poldolski to hit home with his weaker right foot.  A spectacular team goal and an indication that Arsenal can score on the counter!  2 nil, match over?  Not so fast, my friends…

It was clearly a goal we needed but, given that a Liverpool goal would tickle the nerves of every Gooner in the stadium, and with memories of 4 in 20 minutes still fresh, it was FAR from over.  As is natural, Arsenal set out to defend and Suarez, rat-dog that he is, sought to get in the box where he could do his bit. Unfortunately, and perhaps pumped up from his well taken goal, Poldolski obliged by foolishly attempting to knick a ball off the Uruguayan from behind.  Feeling the touch, Suarez went to ground grabbing the ball and forcing the whistle.  No foul and a handball or a Pen?  Webb correctly, I fear, chose the latter.

Gerrard converted to the left corner with Fabianski fully covering the right.  2-1 and back to the pressure cooker.   Suarez had been rewarded, so the game, his game, was on.  Instantly, a leg left out touched Koscielny and Suarez was down clutching his stomach(?).   A moment on and Suarez laid a fantastic pass off for Sturridge, but the latter took a touch, allowing Fabianski to make his greatest save of the night, even if there was a tiny bit of contact.  Unfortunately for Liverpool, Sturridge, like Sterling earlier, was thinking he could score and forgot to go to ground to get the whistle.

Suarez wouldn’t make such a mistake and from another “well-won” foul, this time by Gerrard, Suarez took the kick from 20 meters.  Into the wall it went (on purpose, perhaps?) and Suarez beat Ox to the rebound, toe poking it and theatrically going down.  “Fool me once,” Webb must’ve thought, wagging it away with a finger.  IMO, as much as the Poldolski foul was on the softer side (but certainly an example of Suarez outwitting our player) the 2nd one was stonewall.  Luckily Webb seemed interested in justice more than rewarding Suarez’s abundant cynicism.   At least the great champion of the bald people in the weight room had secured the spotlight for himself—right where he likes it.

Poldolski, both hero and goat (or victim, depending on your allegiance), was subbed for Santi Cazorla who soon after showed his worth, helping his countryman (Monreal) at one end without fouling.  Unfortunately he looked rusty when a poor clearance fell to him just inside the box and straight in front of goal.  Instead of taking a touch and getting an angle, little Santi rushed his volley and found row Z, leaving hope for the visitors.

Though Liverpool was tiring, they would not relent.  The next big talking point was ours, however, as ever energetic Oxlade-Chamberlain put the pressure back on Webb, sprawling over Steven Gerrard (already on a yellow) at the other end.  It may have looked like Ox had gotten a toe to it, but replays revealed that both players missed the ball.  Gerrard was better placed and, in my opinion, it was neither a foul nor a yellow, except maybe for our player who clearly was playing the referee and not the ball. It was given (the foul, not the yellow) and a nice free kick opportunity for Arsenal was Webb’s compromise.  Before Ox could take it, he was subbed for Kieran Gibbs.

In the 80th minute we tried again, with Cazorla making a wild swing for a high bouncing ball, which both he and Skrtl missed.  Replays show that the defender’s foot got Santi’s ankle, but with the ball bouncing away, Webb refused to blow.  Had Santi maybe been more cynical and just touched it on rather than going for goal, perhaps.  A tough one to call, I think.

In the 86th even more controversy—another free kick swung in by Gerrard found Fabianski coming to punch but missing with Agger’s header going wide.  Replays show another very close call, but it did appear that Agger may have shied from the contact with our keeper.  There was contact nonetheless, and our man, brilliant on the night, could have gone from hero to something a bit less.

From here the game wore down.  Wenger used his final sub, bringing on Giroud for the refreshingly strong and looking-the-part Sanogo.  With recent rumors of our Ollie becoming the BPF (Big Philandering Frenchman) a short stint rather than a glaring spotlight was likely a good call on the manager’s part…

Three minutes of injury time, more whistles, more free kicks and Sturridge trying to hurry shoelace-tying Fabianski, but finally a series of three tweets from Webb and it’s Everton in the quarters.

But, of course, it’s so much more.  Liverpool are an in-form team playing at a very high level.  They’ve got the best player in English football with an underappreciated supporting cast.  That Arsenal were able to stand up to that challenge after the beating we took a week ago and bring additional players into our group of contributors is an added bonus.  Performances from Oxlade-Chamberlain and Fabianski were outstanding, even if both were maybe fortunate to stay on the bald man’s good side.  Koscielny (my MOTM) showed he can defend against the very best and not get lured into fouling.  Another great signing from Ligue Deux made a true contribution and provided a bit of an answer to the endless GoonerDoomer cries of “Oooh, oooh, vat vil ve do vit-out Giroud” –Yaya Sanogo.  Poldolski got his goal even if he gave up the penalty, showing that he can still be a factor even with his off-foot, if not much help (or worse) at the defensive end.

It should also be noted that it was all anchored by relentless application by a midfield three of Flamini, Arteta and especially Ozil, who had the key “pre-assists” with gorgeous balls on both goals.  Observers,  I believe, fail to appreciate the quiet precision he brings to our game and the fact that he is our iron-man playing long minutes, match after match after match, avoiding injury and keeping our play ticking over.  Without our record signing, I believe this would have been another (humbling) day of reckoning.

As it is, the nay-sayers will have to wait until Wednesday when (surely) Arsenal will be found out and destroyed by the best club in world football.  I prefer than we actually play the match and see what happens.  That’s just me, of course, and maybe I’m not being a proper Gooner by suggesting that we might be in with a shout.  Today was a step in the right direction (under immense pressure), so I say let’s at least give the lads a chance.


28 thoughts on “Gusty rotation, Ox and Fabianski (and Howard Webb) Help Put Anfield in the Rear View

  • Think you need to have another look at the Cazorla volley.. He is lucky not have his ankle shattered by a dangerous studs up high challenge from Skrtel.

  • Just watched highlights on ITV – funny how they didnt show the best save of the match which was by Jones from Ozil’s shot – or did they show Skrtel’s leg breaker on Cazorla, or the fact Suarez won 3 free-kicks by just flopping to the floor.

    Where are all the mouthy Scousers from last week by the way?
    Penalty? Maybe – just like Skrtel’s 1st goal last week was offside. Get over it.

  • Superb match review, 17ht. 🙂

    I reckon you have been very fair to Liverpool, possibly too fair?

    Liverpool deserved another penalty and it could have been 2-2 at some point. Yet I believe we were able to add another gear if we had to, and I always felt we were going to win the game.

    You have to give it Liverpool, though. They come to the home of football to play the sort of football we like to play and have played for so many years; and they play it better than us currently, albeit less successfully. As good as Liverpool are, there is also something quite immature about them; and as limited we look at times, there is actually something quite mature about our team. And that is the difference right now, and why I believe we are still ahead of Liverpool. You can see, though, that Rodgers is making progress, but it is fair to say that they need to keep hold of the Muncher to kick on next season.

    I thought Sanogo had a very good game and you can sense what a prospect he is. A fantastic athlete with great work rate and attitude. They way he took the ball down and managed a powerful shot on goal (blocked by SG) was a bit reminiscent of Drogba. For such a young guy he has real presence, despite having been isolated for big spells of the game.

    Ox has the drive and energy to make things happen and was my man of the match, other than Fab who was brilliant throughout the match (in my view did not make a single mistake and showed real desire to grab his chance – he had some big bollocks today). The (team)assist for Pod was a superb piece of football, both by Ozil and by Ox in particular.

    I agree with you, 17, that your numbersake Nacho got better and better during the game, after a difficult start. Koz and BFG did look vulnerable though and I am hoping that Sagna and Gibbs (and Flam/Jack?) will help them to gain their composure and control again against Die Lederhosen.

  • If you are going to write a blog you really should brush up on the laws of the game. Skrtel came in with excessive force likely to endanger an opponent and according to the law on foul play that equals red card and penalty. Webb has a blind spot with these high tackles, see Da Jongs challenge in the world cup final and a horrendous one by Ferdinand on Sagna which ripped his shirt a couple of years ago, both unpunished by our supposed best referee. Regarding Gerrard he came through the back of Chamberlain in a reckless manner, whether either of them touched the ball or not is completely irrelevant. Take a few hours out to study the rules.

  • In my opinion Liverpool have a better team and manager regardless of today’s result. Sturridge knew a goal would break a Liverpool record, and I knew he wasn’t going to score today because of it. I’ve seen it so many times happening to players. If one of them early chances had of gone in Arsenal would’ve crumbled and of course the Arsenal first goal was a jammy pinball goal that gave you confidence. I wasn’t upset today personally because it wasn’t the final and let’s be honest, City will win it if it had of been Liverpool or Arsenal especially as Kun will be back.

  • Am I the only one that thinks Webb made the right call?

    Suarez at no point gets possession of the ball, and football is not a non-contact sport, just toe-poking the ball away does not earn him a foul. The challenge on him is not reckless, or made with excessive force, Chamberlain just runs into him. This is a loose ball situation, contact is not indicative of a foul.

    I am pretty sure Rogers is going pick up a fine for his comments, or certainly should, because Webb has every right to turn down that penalty.

    I’m not saying he couldn’t have given it also, but it was a judgement call, and a strong case can be made both ways.

  • Fair enough, Patrick. You have every reason to be optimistic about your team and manager. I would love it if you make it into the top four instead of the Mancs and Spuds. However, your team and manager have a long way to go still, and a great game now and again does not win you prices (as we dammed well know at Arsenal).

  • Hey thanks Richie, Dan G, and Mick for reading and for the lesson on the rules. So then Pool should’ve gotten a 2nd pen to tie the match but we win when Cazorla won his. Or should Fabianski been called for flattening Agger when he missed his punch? That’s a red card too, isn’t it?… If that one’s called and converted it goes to 3-3 with both teams down to 10…

    Sorry, but Ox trying to get Gerrard sent off was his own doing…Stevie G had the position on that one…

    It was definitely a match played at breakneck (or break a leg or something…) pace and if we’ve escaped (again) with no further injuries it will be another level of victory.

    Webb is an interesting ref and his methods are highly rewarded on the international scene. Didn’t he do both the last WC final and a recent CL final? Compared to the ManU match where Plugs (Clattenburg) called nothing this match was played with 100% commitment. What the match desperately needed, IMO, was a yellow for diving. What’s happened to those? Please get back to me, my rule book friends….

    Great additional points Total and it was end to end action. Agreed about the maturity in both teams. Besides Jones this was very close to Liverpool’s best group and there’s a lot of promise in Sterling and Sturridge even if they failed to fall to the level of their teammates’ (Suarez and Coutinho’s) cynicism or take their chances when they kept their feet. By comparison the Ox did brilliantly with his goal and assist and he will learn to avoid the late challenge on divers in the box. Call it cynical, but I think we need to be aware of the refereeing as much as anything, ideally without sinking to the level of the likes of Suarez. With the generally more touchy CL refs coming on Weds, this match will only do us good.

    Fabianski WAS great and will be a great 1st team keeper much as Mannone is proving up in Sunderland. Clearly his comfort zone is on the line and his reactions are amazing. Those ventures off his line are where the troubles come. Still with the sheer quantity of set pieces (Webb trying to control the match with calls lacking true consequence)… Fabs did better than expected. The play him for Bayern calls, I think will only work if Szczesny gets overwhelmed (again) by the Bayern home match…

    On that note, this was a whole lot better than our similar FA cup match a year ago when we lost to Blackburn. Somehow the team has improved, at least result-wise. We really shouldn’t judge the team in that manner or maybe, in the reverse of Cockie-style it’s all about the bad results. Wenger Out then, obviously?…

  • You wont find a better unbiased report from the daily newspapers, excellent, Seventeenho !. 😀

    I am the Voice of Doom who is also the protector of The Chart of Doom !. hahaha

    Although we hung in there most of the match it wasn’t pretty !. It was a typical cup tie of great passion and the atmosphere sounded fantastic on the TV and that was acknowledged by the commentators !.
    My one observation to our current less than absorbing play is that we seem to be not getting players running into open space !. Liverscum had players continuously running into open spaces, which believe me as an ex-player of an adequate level, is what makes it a lot easier for midfielders !. They love players running into open space !.
    I must admit that I was impressed with Sterling !. 19 years old, if your good enough, your old enough !. We go mad about the potential of Gnabry and quite rightly, but Sterling is of a similar age, but well and truly a important member of their side already !. At times he reminded me of the late great Geordie Armstrong, not skill wise, but for his tracking back to an almost RB position, that takes a lot of stamina and he still has the plenty in the tank to be a pain in the arse up front !.
    I know Sanogo worked his socks off, but he is potential, he is not the answer to our lack of SQ up front !. So lets hope Wenger doesn`t think most of us supporters will be happy in not buying a Suarez, Aguero type player in the summer, otherwise, the plot is definitely lost !.
    Night Bastardildos !.

  • Without any doubt Szczesny will be back for Bayern, but Fab did really well and might have played to advertise himself to other clubs…. He should really be playing every week at a half decent club.

  • Welcome to BKesque, Patrick. Good to know you’ve got the better team…I didn’t realize about poor Sturridge and the goals jinx…Ah well, he’s not done for the season.

    In truth, it seems your team is heavily reliant on one Luis Suarez. Do his antics bother you in any way or are they just part of the game? Just curious, really… Also, do you think he’ll stay with the club or bail (Bale) off to Spain? Obviously, many a Gooner wanted him over the Summer so no moral high ground to be claimed, I don’t think…

    TT, I agree that Webb made the right call. Cynicism–playing for the pen–is not always rewarded and contact is not always a foul. IMO he could’ve called at least a half dozen today, the vast majority coming at our end. He wants to be the ref whose both unafraid to make the big call BUT also helps create the correct result. The problem is, if one or both teams are playing with cynicism it becomes all about him. Still, a yellow for diving would’ve been priceless and would’ve gotten us to the result–in favor of the club which actually put the ball in the net from open play–with a whole lot less controversy… Hopefully the rule book guys (up above) can enlighten you even more…

  • I don’t know how you can say Rodgers is better than Wenger. Oh well, I admire the confidence you have in him, as it is similar to the view many people who support Arsenal have of Wenger. While he frustrates or perplexes me almost every match, he keeps such an even keel and holds so steadfastly to his principles that you can only admire him, in the end. I WASN’T perplexed by his selection of Sanogo. I was so pleased to see that he had the balls to pick him and I thought he had a good chance of coming through for us. I really like him as a player. Giroud will hopefully be looking over his shoulder after that performance.

    I thought the selection of Monreal was a big gamble after the way he played up at Anfield, but he hung in there nicely too.

    My Dad thinks I’m crazy but I think we can grab a draw against Bayern at home, and then at least go to penalties in the second leg. We might not win, but it will be damn close.

    I would not drop the Ox, even for Wilshere. I am more partial to the Ox I guess. If Wilshere could get his head and temperament sorted out, he’d be in my starting 11 hands down. As each day passes though, it gets more and more frustrating to watch him. He needs to get back that drive and willingness to play it simply, yet effectively. He tries too many intricate plays, in my uneducated opinion, and needs to take a page out of Ramsey or Chamberlain’s book to re-gain his effectiveness. The fancy stuff will come in time, and the more matches he plays the better he will be able to execute his final pass. I might play both against Bayern. I’d play Flamini with Wilshere in midfield and play Ox as a winger with a free role to cut inside and create danger. I wouldn’t take him out of the team though and replace him with Wilshere. I’d try and play both. I have no idea what Arsene will do though, hahahahahaha 😀

  • Cocker 🙂

    Sanogo could well be the answer…. and not just because he worked hard. Sleep on that one, king of award winning doom hahahha 😛

  • Cockie you’re a funny one…Slinking off to bed while waxing lyrical about little speedsters like Sterling and Armstrong…Fact of the matter is that Gnabry would be in their team too…And lets remember that’s w/o injuries to two mainstays…

    Buying Suarez, like I said, will be another record breaker in Spain and we’re looking at 125 Million Euros or Thereabouts. El Kun might come a hair cheaper but then where does Suarez go? Rooney on 300K a week will take some pounds from Jose if that’s his route forward. It’s madness. Yes, it would be sweet if GazProm (Usmanov’s company, ffs…) would Sponsor us to the tune of a player of this stature, but he’s as tight as our Wal-Mart wife. What I’m saying is that it’s all wishful and the economics are a fuzzy as your friend Fozzie. Dream on, little Cockie and remember, the sky will be falling soon enough…

  • Hahaha Totes………would you believe me if I told you I dream of jokes and now have to have a pen next to my bed to write them down in case I forget them !. The wife often says….” you were laughing in your sleep again ! “. Well, I`m now dreaming of Doom stuff aswell and have to write them down also !. What a highly imaginative and weird mind I have !. Then again, I might be normal, as you bastards might do the same !. hahaha

  • Milo, are we good?… I hope so and I’m glad to see you posting here…

    I’m pretty pumped up for the boys but I also think that this one could’ve gone either way once the ref rewarded the cynicism of Suarez. I think your observations are strong but the best thing about Sanogo is that he didn’t completely sag as the match wore on as Giroud sometimes does. Youth is certainly on his side, which is only a good thing. No more injuries for him (and Ollie), is very important…

    I’d still be careful about assigning intentions and mind-states from just watching the play of our guys. I thought the players were committed here but I thought likewise in the 5-1 at Anfield and the 2-2 at So’ton. Conditions may have made things tougher in the nil-nil United result but this group is trying hard, in their own way, match after match after match. I know you prefer direct and aggressive players and I guess if Ox had been called for the second pen shout it would’ve been a show of commitment or something. To me, he needs to be careful to not play too pumped up and get lured into trouble by more, er, experienced, players…If he would, on occasion slow things to help us keep the ball, I also think his game would feel more well-rounded. Still a great match for the Ox so I’m being hyper-critical and mostly just offering a different perspective…

    As I said, I think we’ll play the same 11 as we did vs United against Bayern, exept Arteta (one match ban) replaced by Flamini. Ox and Poldi and maybe Gnabry or Sanogo would be the go to guys (off the bench) if we fall behind…That match, being a two-legger, will be far cagier and nil-nil would be an awesome result. Even 1-1 would be good but a win, of course, would be better. That we can defend a bit seems very promising. Possession, which we struggled to maintain today, will be critical and JW and Rosicky will be key in keeping it. Hopefully Giroud’s finishing is back and he’s a bit less distracted by his off-pitch issues…

  • prob need to look at gerard tackle again, rules dont take into account who has position.. if you dive into a tackle like that (especially if you miss the ball) you are likely to get a yellow card.

    Just like the studs up challange by skrtel is a foul anywhere on the pitch ‘even’ in the penalty area and a booking if not a red card.

    both liverpools claims were penalties despite suarez’s theatrics, however the first one was very similar (though even softer) to one we should have been given against chelsea when willian took out our players feet with a lazy leg when tracking back.

  • Wenger on tactics? New school of thought – First, make more than twice as many changes as you normally do. Then play an untested ‘cheapie’ transfer(£400,000?) as your main striker? In a flash you have supporters in TCM ‘deep gloom’ mode, ‘okay, so we’re targeting the CL’, so let’s get this slaughter out of the way.

    Voila! Everybody is waxing lyrical about the fantastic players we have … Job done!

    Well, until 17HT gives a more balanced assessment of the match 😀

    Yes HT, I think you have captured both the essence of the game, and the key turning points in you brilliant easy going style. Top man!

    I think you are a tad hard on Ox v Gerrard though, for one simple reason. Gerrard went to ground to make his tackle purely and simply because Ox had him for pace? Ox would have reached the ball had he not been taken down? Identical to the penalty he got in the previous game, except this one was not in the area, and we were not 4-0 down?

    Ont the Saurez v Ox at the other end, I too, am halfway with TT, but only from Webb’s angle of view. The back view he had, and we could see on that particular replay, Ox appeared to go in shoulder to shoulder, not excessively, no arm pushing to get him off the ball, and then see Suarez going down clutching his thigh did look like he was playing for it? I am not sure he would have given a free kick anywhere else either in those circumstances? It is only the camera on the goal side shows that Ox did indeed step across him after he played the ball, which was going away from goal, so no red card if the foul was given. You are right though, Ox does need to be more careful when tackling in the box.

    The big thing for me was that they did get a better grip on how to play the ‘high pressing’, counter attacking team, which will stand them in good stead for future games. Not that it was perfect, but at least they showed they had got the message from the week before.

    The other major thing was having pace to attack. Not only from Ox driving forwards, but the space it offered Ozil to be effective in his game once more. It also showed the the Flamteta duo is not necessarily a big negative in the right games? It was a real team effort.

    The last word on Sanogo, Finally getting his chance to silence those sneering at his lack of involvement since his signing. However, I repeat. He is a work in progress. Not the next big star for this season. That said, he has clearly put the work in in the gym, as he appears to have that core body strength now that made him look exceedingly fragile before. Plus, he has now done 80 minutes first team duty, with very little game time prior, so it should done him a power of good confidence wise. So provided he suffers no reaction, he will very likely displace NB23 from the bench, sooner rather than later?

    I fear Gibbs may be carrying an injury though. The TV commentating team called him out at his lack of urgency at getting back to help Monreal when they were about to launch another attack from a goal kick. That I have to say, is most unlike Gibbs? It was a shock not to see him start, so he may just have been feeling a bit put out, but I doubt that too. Interesting who gets the nod against Bayern?

    For me, MOTM was Fab. Yes, our goals are what won the game, but, as a shop stopper, Fab was flawless. I agree that Koscielny had a good game. Podolski shows in that final third he can be deadly. If we could afford to leave him that high up the pitch all the time, he would indeed be a great striker and score many goals? Ox too, showcased his skills too, and between him an Gnabry, we will survive the absence of Walcott, and hopefully, now he’s made the bench again, he too will get to strut his stuff, possibly on Wednesday?

    But the final word has to go to AW. It was a bold move to make so many changes. Perhaps we will never know how many are forced on him, but I think, as TA said, this result was far more than getting into the next round – the quarter finals, no less! – it could be the launch pad to get back on track before the next round of tricky games hits us?

  • Great match report 17ht………sorry I cant do it justice at present, will try and get back latterz.

  • @ 17

    good match report but I demand more bias dammit!!!

    Suarez was at his flopping best as per usual. Ox needed to do a nani and feign injury too when he hit Suarez. It’s pathetic to watch really because players can’t go near him (kozzer let him go at one stage because a slight touch would have seen the rat roll around right in to the crowd!)

    Jesus it was a insane match though, heart in mouth stuff throughout.

    Liked what I saw from yaya…he may not get on as a sub on my fifa 14

  • haha cockie that is bang on. My first thought was the midget from bad santa.

    see 1.37

  • wow, since when did we become a liverpool blog 😆

    nice one @ 17HT – you gave way too much to the deluded fools in my opinion – we lost 5-1 , which was started by the wrong ref decision of allowing an offside goal to stand – we never made much fuss of it , however, Mr. Webb allows a soft penalty and then calls the 2nd penalty call spot on – watch the replay again – Suarez the cheat had lost control of the goal and it was already headed towards the line and he made a whole lot of Ox’s running into him.

    anyhow – I know you disagree about Fabianski and you turn around and tell me, that he punched and could have given this or that but the bottom line is that he didn’t and the bottom line is that had it been Sczny or anyone else, we could have been losing 5-1 again – give the lad some credit – he has been hard done by AW – it was him who started our run last year and kept a clean sheet against BM when Sczny let him 3 at home against Bayern (2 absolute gifts)…

    so yes, I will be gutted if Fabianski doesn’t get more games at Arsenal and also, when he leaves …he has come a long way from being Flapianski to Fabianski and has matured – so yes, I am going to keep my Fabianski tainted glasses on for a little bit longer if you don’t mind, ha

    thanks for doing this last minute extensive report – you covered all the basis and both sides of the coins and were very fair in your assessment (a bit too fair if you ask me 😉

    time for my 3 negatives and positives :

    1: Jenks – needs to cut out the fancy stuff and needs to keep it simple for now – both him and gibbs have got a great mentor in Sagna, learn it off him whilst he’s still around – he was in no man’s land in most of the first half , either commit yourself forward or do your job defending – had it not been for the OX helping him out, it could have been costly – Sterling gave him a torrid time and had him on the run

    3: Flamini and the silly bookings keep pilling up – going by this rate, he’ll be banned again for crunch matches coming in March – sort it out Flam’s –

    5: Per – where as Koc kept Suarez in his back pocket, I thought Sturridge gave Per a right working over – the sooner we manage to give our BFG a much deserved rest the better, but the trouble is, who comes in and most importantly – when do we cut our losses short with an injured captain and CB ? tricky.

    Positive :

    1: Fabianski – looks sharp, focused and distributed some lovely balls .

    3: The Ox – what a key player he is going to be, I feel he can deliver us the EPL , if he manages to stay fit and hungry (let’s hope he doesn’t get selected by England, sorry AFC) – I always said that he needs to play ahead of Gnabry and boy, is he proving me and AW right, the lad has some serious burst of pace … imagine this – Gnabry down the RW, OX in the b2b with Ozil in the hole and Poldi on the LW – mouth watering.

    5: Right , this might be a bit of surprise for everyone – Yaya . S , what a master stroke by AW for not playing Bendtner – this lad can run for you all day long, what was even more impressive that he’s been injured whole season and only had a 60 minute work out for the reserves, yet he refused to stop running for the team – did everything quite well and it was as a result of his shot that OX managed to score from the re-bound, had it been that cheat aka Giroud then rest assured, he would had it in the crowd somewhere and sulked for a good few minutes hitting the ground and so on – as you can see, my opinion of Giroud has gone further down, perhaps due to what he’s been doing off the field lately and had he been scoring goals for us then fair enough but he’s not doing that – I hope AW benches him and plays Yaya. S a lot more now, there is a lot of potential there to work with and he is a constant presence up front.

  • @17. Hi there, you are the voice of balance and reason – an excellent match report and analysis of issues.

    Firstly then, huge credit where it’s due – it would have been pelting down on him had we lost. Wenger has produced an absolute blinder. 7 changes to our squad – almost our B team – against a full strength and brimming with confidence pool. We win the game, rest key players, and send pool back home nursing their “not fair” cries rather than asking themselves why they couldn’t manufacture a goal in open play. All round wonderful! Even with our ‘reserves’ the things we have done well this year, defend resolutely and attack with real pace, were back and evident; I hope we don’t forget these basics again in attempting to squeeze too many creative types into our midfield.

    Then there is the controversy – what controversy? The simple answer is it was not a penalty. The keepers of the rule brigade always neglect to recognise that ultimately it is the referees judgement that applies, unless there are precise parameters to apply, such as the goal line….! Their judgement will take a host of factors into account, the position, intent and level of force of the tackler, not merely whether there was contact. And the judgement will reflect also the nature of other calls made throughout the game – some games will be referred hard and others less so; what you look for is impartiality and consistency. Do I think the Ox tackle could have been called a penalty – absolutely! Do I think the pool were poorly treated on balance by refereeing decisions – no, not at all.

    Finally, what a wonderful range of individual performances to savour. Comments above have already indicated personal MoM awards. Stand outs were Fab, Ox, Kos and Oz. But what a pleasure to see Flam back with real bite. And how about our ‘reserve’ fullbacks? How many in the PL could field a second pair as sound. Pod reminds us all of what he can do – and what he can’t! I like him, and would like to see him playing regularly for 60 min, pressing and shooting. And, without going overboard, it was encouraging to say the least to see our other freebie of the summer putting in a shift, and looking like he might just be an option for us sooner rather than later after all. Let’s see. And its not like Mert and Art had bad games per se either.

    All this does not leave me feeling like we will steam roller Bayern come Wednesday. But we will have some rested players, confidence levels will be up – and we won’t have the ‘Feb collapse’ millstone to deal with. Hopefully we will keep things tight, but include some pace around the flanks. A strong showing from Giroud would be in order on all fronts. If we play well and get beat there’s no shame – this is the strongest team in Europe and we are a work in progress, a couple of SQ players short of what we aspire to be. But lets give it a proper go, and see what our form of game can deliver; for the moment we are still competing on all 3 fronts!


  • 17, great post as always. TA, good point about Webb never going to give us the call on gerrard after not giving the second Suarez. BUT, he, or any other ref were never going to give Suarez 2 pens, especially with the theatrical spin dive he put on. Someone else was right in saying that ox need to feign injury also, that would be perfect way to act.
    This match could have gone either way, we didn’t control it as we would have liked, and we both had good opportunities. Fabiansky was the difference more than anybody.

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