Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Liverpool-Arsenal: What To Watch For

Champions League Quarterfinal 2nd Leg
11.45 a.m. PST
Score after 1st leg: 1-1

I have no idea what will happen today- could be anything, and no result will surprise me.

Anyhow, Arsenal know that they must score a goal, as 0-0 would put Liverpool through on the away goals rule. In a way it's better knowing exactly what you have to do. The trick will be scoring that goal if and when Rafa decides to put 10 men behind the ball, close up shop, and play for the 0-0, and hope that maybe a Torres moment of magic or one by someone else on the break can sneak a goal.

That is basically how the game will play out. Arsenal will again dominate possession, but the trick will be whether or not they can break down the packed in Liverpool defense and get a goal.

Scoring first would be ideal, because then it would force Liverpool to come out and play which would open things up for Arsenal and make it more likely that they could get a second goal. BUt even if Liverpool score a goal it's not the end of the world, because Arsenal have to score a goal anyway, and if they did then 1-1 would get them to extra time and perhaps penalties {note: do. not.want.}.

1 more thing to watch for: there is alot of talk about Liverpool packing it in and playing for 0-0, but what happens oftentimes at big games at Anfield, especially big Champions League games at Anfield, is that the crowd is so energized that Liverpool play the first 15-20 minutes on adrenaline and attack and create several chances- this happens time and time again, and then after 15 minutes things settle down a bit. If you're a Liverpool fan then you hope they can land a knockout blow in this first frenzied phase of the match; if you're Arsenal then you hope to hold them through this initial adrenaline rush until the game settles in, and perhaps even score one yourself while they are actually trying to go forward a bit with more than just route 1 longballs.

So look for a energetic and even frenzied first 15 minutes, then for the match to settle down into what everyone is expecting: Liverpool to defend with 10 men behind the ball and trying to maybe sneak a goal against the run of play, while Arsenal will all the possession trying to break them down.

Oh, and Mr. Referee- if Dirk Kuyt grans an Arsenal player by the arm and tackles him in the penalty area today, and you are standing 5 feet away with a front row seat, then for fuck's sake call a penalty.

I'm taking off my work shirt, throwing on Kanu25 circa 2000, and going across the street to the pub.

Come On You Gunners!!!


Killing My Liver said...

Arrrgghhhh !! away goal. Damn you to hell, Diaby. Sucks watching(kind of) through gamecast.

Come on Torres.

beast in 'bama said...

1-1! Let's get 'em there, KML!

Killing My Liver said...

Walk on, boys, walk on !!

beast in 'bama said...

Great first half. Arsenal going up 1-0 seems to be the best thing that could have happened to us.

Let's just hope this continues...great fun to watch, no matter who wins.

beast in 'bama said...


Damn! That kid is terrific!

beast in 'bama said...


We played to win, we played like men!

Killing My Liver said...

Kanu - read your twitter, and I have to disagree with the ref gripe. Even though I support the Reds, I think the call was fair. If you complain about non calls, then you can't complain about the calls. There were a couple shady offside calls against Liverpool.

Anyway, good match, I was scared until the whistle blew. Your boys never quit.

Lastly, God, I love Torres.

Ryno said...

Been following the match on soccernet. They minute by minute says the Penalty was very soft.

Are they off?

Kanu said...


First off, congratulations.

As far as that call- I don't have a problem with it being given. I have a problem with it being given AND last week's Kuyt arm tackle takedown of Hleb not being given by that referee, whether he was a Dutchman from the same hometown as Kuyt or not.

It's a bitter pill to swallow, but Arsenal are the ones who had the lead in this tie 3 separate times and managed to protect all 3 leads for a total of like 15 minutes, so bitterness about the 2 calls taken together aside, they had their chances and didn't take them.

I really wish Fenerbache had done it, because as a {sort-of} Liverpool-Chel$ea is going to be a nightmare.

And CL big picture, I just became the biggest Barcelona fan in the world.

Again, congratulations and best of luck going forward.

Kanu said...


No, they are not off- it was very soft, but we've all seen ones like this given.

It was one of those 50/50s where sometimes it is given and other times not. Again, the reasonable part of me can understand that it was given, but for the diehard Arsenal fan in me it is a massive kick in the balls when taken with the non call on Kuyt last week for a much much much more obvious penalty.

Congrats to you as well, Ryno- if I remember correctly you are in the YNWA crew as well.

Killing My Liver said...

True, soft, but not unjust. There was also a no call american football tackle on Gerrard outside the area in the Emirates match. I can understand the sour grapes, but you should be more upset with the Adeabyour miss on the open net and the missed opportunities on the Reina miscues.
And, you are right, it will probably be a snorefest with the Blues and Reds, but I love 'em
Remember: ABC: Anyone But Chelsea.

Kanu said...

Liverpool fans:

At the end of the day, referee gripes or no referee gripes, that's the way the cookie crumbles and over time these things even out.

As much as this stings, at the end of the day it was a classic case for both teams: for Arsenal, they has numerous chances to finish the tie off and capitalized on 1 less than they needed to, and for Liverpool, once again a fairly limited side rose up when the CL anthem was played and did what they needed to do to somehow get the job done.

Again, congrats to you all.

beast in 'bama said...

Kanu, you are a gentleman in the finest of Southern traditions, sir.

I am happy Liverpool won. I am overjoyed that Rafa finally showed some Latin machismo and let his men play like men - win or lose. All this "10 men behind the ball" crap - though justified - was sticking in my craw like one of my wife's, um, hairs.

When we went up 2-1 and still kept pushing forward as though we were behind, it was the proudest moment I've had as a Liverpool fan. I swear if the game had ended 2-2, I would have been just as proud to be a Liverpool fan as I am with the 4-2 win...but I'll take the win, thank you very much.

It was a great match to watch. If only we could play like that against Chel$ea.

moin said...

Your hope might be on Barca, but mine is on Schalke. I'm tired of watching big names clubs (even my own) in the end. God it was great to watch a Monaco-Porto final a couple years ago and I wish it could be like that again.

This could have been Walcott's coming out party though. The kid's a bit special.

On a side note about the Free Tibet/Olympic torch deal. Nothing convinces a country to change better than being embarrassed by the citizens of another country eh? I just think those people are seriously misguided. I mean, do Americans react well when foreigners burn the American flag in protest? Then why assume doing basically the same to China will somehow appeal to ordinary Chinese?

Kanu said...


Dude, it's SF. We protest every thing under the sun, all day, every day- nothing is too big or too small. Your point is astute as always, though. And I'd love to see Schalke do well also, but I can't see Schalke beating ManUtd or Chel$ea {if, gulp, it comes to that}, and from where I'm sitting, with 3 of the final 4 being Liverpool, Chel$ea, and most likely ManUtd, I have to pull hard for Barca to prevent any of the other 3 from winning, and the realist in me just doesn't think this Schalke team can slay Barca, then ManUtd, then Pool or Chel$ea- they are just too limited from what {admittedly little}I have seen.

So Barca it is, on a bunch of TH14 & Eto'o goals, with a nice Silvinho one thrown in for good measure.


That was interesting. Rafa started out playing defensive, and then the Arsenal goal forced them to come out and play, but I must also tip my hat to him for playing to win in the second half and not completely shutting it down in the 2nd half when 2-1 up- respek: you should be proud- if I was a scouser, i would be proud of their performance today, too. Theyonce again pulled the rabbit out of the hat, and came back from being down three different times.

I do feel that the flavor of the match changed significantly when Flamini went off and Gilberto, a sorry shell of his former self, replaced him. Flamini is a bossing bulldog of a central midfielder, and with him in the game, both the first leg and first 20 minutes of today's game, Arsenal bossed the midfield and dominated possession. Without him, Liverpool controlled the midfield, had much more possession, and were able to do much more with the ball.

Not making an excuse for the loss, just noting how the match significantly shifted and that was a key point that will be mostly overlooked by the media.

Flamini is so underrated and so important {along with Sagna & Adebayor he has by far been Arsenal's best player this year}, and after doing it all year in the EPL, and now pretty much dominating/neutralizing Kaka over two legs and then Stevie G for a leg and a half {Stevie G really came into the game more today after Flamini went off}, please, Arsene, just pay the dude whatever he wants- he's only 24, and is so superior to Gilberto or Song or Denilson that it isn't even funny, and Arsenal are a much worse side without him.

beast in 'bama said...

I agree on all your points. What happened, exactly? From the one brief replay I saw, he and Gerrard clipped each other's ankles while running side by side - the ball nowhere near them; they weren't even looking at each other. It looked like both were looking at the ball somewhere down the field and just bumped each other.

The announcers (ESPN) didn't give any details as to what the injury was.

Kanu said...

Yup- exactly what you said- they just had a bit of an innocent collision- it looked a bit awkward for Flamini- it looked like he just twisted it.

Forca Barca!

{if it's any consolation, once two weeks from now rolls around and I'm more over today, I will be pulling for The Pool to prevent Chel$ea from getting to the final, and then if it's ManUtd in the final then ditto}

jesus ,I can't even imagine how awful a Chel$ea-ManUtd final would be- truly nothing to root for there but injuries and explosions...}

Kanu said...


And yeah, ESPN's coverage by the announcers can be pretty shit, but I think alot of that is down to the fact that Derek & Tommy are in a studio in Bristol watching on TV rather than in the stadium {they MIGHT fly them over for the CL final- not even sure about that- but all the rest they are watching on a TV monitor and commentating}, so if there are any momentary distractions in the studio they often miss things, etc. etc.

On the other hand, I am grateful that ESPN2 shows us a match live and now a 2nd one on tape delay on Classic. That's a tradeoff I'll make any day.

oreo said...

Good lord, you guys are way too classy a mere 3 hours after the match! :)

I'll have to concur with EVERYTHING Kanu has said - from Flamini, Gilberto, refs, pks, etc.

A couple of last thoughts for me - the Walcott run was incredible. You'd expect to see that from Kaka or Messi at that level. Would've liked to see him earlier...and see less of RVP...don't even know if he touched the ball in his 20 min.
Will be interesting to see what Arsenal does in the offseason with acquisitions.

Go Barca!!! Go Roma? Yeah, go Roma!

Kanu said...


I've been saying it for months: Walcott is still young, a bit raw, and not near the finished article, but the fact that Eboue starts/plays ahead of him on the right wing is just STUNNING when you consider how utterly and horribly useless and terrible Eboue has been this season. It's STUNNING. Hell, I'd rather have an out of position Denilson out there on the right instead of EE27.

Please sell this summer, so he can go be shit and fake and dive for someone else.

Anonymous said...

A brillant match to watch all around but I must admit the wrong team won for my taste. Back and forth, end to end action it was incredible to watch.

The Gooners miss Rosicky...and Van Persie is missing his touch after the injury.

Keep on rockin on the west coast and lets hope the boys can pull a rabbit from a hat this w/e vs Manure...


Jeffster said...

Gut-wrenching loss for the Arsenal. The penalty given was harsh, but given the awkward challenge, not totally unexpected. This isn't the same club without a full-strength RVP, Sagna and Rosicky. Toure and Senderos both made me want to start throwing stuff at the TV today. Congratulations to The Pool for taking it to us, especially after the 2nd goal. It was an awesome match---just a shame it came down to a referee's decision. But that's football.

Killing My Liver said...

Anyone else notice how biased Tommy was on the call ? Saying "Crouch always looks baffled"(well, partially true, but still)? And, bagging on Kuyt for a good 10 minutes straight ? Wow ? Hate much?
I was a bit uneasy about the Crouch over Babel start, but then again, 'ol stonefoot Babel has been struggling with his first touch(until the 91st minute) of late. Don't know if it was because of the 3 games in rapid succession, or what.
I, too was suprised to see the Reds attacking after they took the lead. It was a beautiful sight. The Michigan fan in me was in full effect when the Gooners scored the equalizer( Here we go again ....), but the boys didn't fold, and played through. It's a shame both sides weren't at full strength, but the match was a good one, anyways. No one would have expected that kind of game from looking at it on paper.
My mancrush is slowly moving from Gerrard to Torres.