Monday, April 18, 2011

Rash Eboue Challenge Ends Arsenal Title Charge

Prior to the match against Liverpool, Arsenal had a run up as difficult as is conceivably possible. Liverpool, Spurs, Bolton and Manchester United are a very tough set of fixtures for any aspiring title contenders. For a team as fragile as Arsenal, this looks a very daunting task. And their crucial title run-in crashed against Liverpool. Once more, Arsenal lacked the ability to deliver when needed. This draw, where both goals were scored in injury time, meant that Arsenal is psychologically out of the title race.

In the wake of this disappointing result, Andrew Weber from Arsenalblog started out by talking about how Arsenal seemed to be a master at throwing away leads this season. Emmanuel  Eboue did clatter into Lucas and it was a rightful penalty. In the end, Liverpool got a point from a match that they did not deserve to lose. Their brilliant defensive display alone, even with Krygiakos and Skrtel as the central defensive pairing, deserved a point.

This remarkable match had Liverpool finish the match with four Academy players, following injuries to Carroll, Aurelio and Carrragher. Performances from Jack Robinson, John Flanagan (who started), Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing has Nate from ohyoubeauty gushing positively at the future of Liverpool. He sees great things happening at Liverpool with the youngsters that are being blooded by Dalglish. It's hard to argue with him when these youngsters show that much composure in such a high pressure situation.

Watching the match, the Gunners started well and were dominating possession. They were choking the supply to Liverpool's front three of Kuyt, Carroll and Suarez, making all three strikers dropping deep to receive the passes. Liverpool's attacking threat were completely nullified in the first half. With Arsenal's precise passing keeping pressure on Liverpool, the Reds had to defend really deep with Lucas and Spearing scurrying all around the Liverpool half.

Liverpool fared a lot better in the second half with Suarez actually playing wider on the left. That should have been a smarter option in hindsight, as Eboue has been known to be rash in tackles and temperamental in attitude. Surprisingly (or maybe not!), the Reds, for me, played much better once Carroll went off and Kuyt became the target man. Luis Suarez had two fantastic opportunities to score but he fluffed both of them which was very unlike the Uruguayan. Suarez looked off-colour at the Emirates. If he had been on-form, Arsenal would have no cause to complain.

One thing's for sure, Arsenal need leaders all over the field to complement their English tiki-taka football. Even the famously stubborn Arsene Wenger must acknowledge this fact.

How many leaders are there in the English Premiership? Scott Parker, Steven Gerrard, Joey Barton, Shay Given and Charlie Adam ranks as some of the best on-pitch motivators which Arsene should consider.

Spurs is next in Arsenal's challenging fixture list and we all know what happened the last time they met.

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