Andrey Arshavin scored four goals in a thrilling game played at a high tempo however the Gunners may count themselves lucky as Liverpool thoroughly dominated.
Liverpool 4-4 Arsenal
A brilliantly ridiculous game saw Arsenal somehow come out with four goals, all scored by the magic of Andrei Arshavin however at the other end, the Gunners had survived a Liverpool onslaught and somehow only conceded four goals as well.
Liverpool had Arsenal on the back foot from the moment go and pushed the Gunner’s back line to the edge of their own box by firing long balls in the direction of Torres. Arsenal could not settle, both in possession and defensively, with the midfield shield of Denilson and Song in particular both not offering much protection. On a couple of occasions Riera was able to float a sideways pass to Kuyt in the centre who along with Benayoun, found plenty of space between Arsenal’s midfield and defence.
To be fair to the central midfield pairing, the direct tactic of Liverpool was disrupting meaning the whole team had to organise quickly in order to deny space while the pair had to be constantly looking forward and as well as back. Fabianski was in inspired shot-stopping form between the sticks and made a string of fantastic blocks, rushed out well to the feet of Benayoun but at times hesitant to rush out for kicks after the FA Cup semi-final experience. Yet despite the onslaught the Reds went behind as Fabregas robbed Mascherano, returned the ball back from Nasri after making a great run behind and found Arshavin for his first. A well worked goal but which also typified Arsenal having only had pockets of possession but passed slickly at times.
Liverpool’s gung-ho attitude was typified by the personnel taking their second-half restart; Alonso and Benayoun. They soon equalised and eventually took the lead, two poor clearances capitalised on. But in a upside down game Arshavin then put Arsenal ahead first by robbing Arbeloa before blasting an unstoppable shot and then gifted a shot in the box from a Liverpool defender. Torres equalised by brilliantly shielding off Silvestre and firing in.
Wenger put Nasri in the deep-lying playmaker role and the Frenchman displayed the main barometer for a potential holding midfielder; he double checked behind him, something which Song and Denilson failed all game. It seems Denilson may be feeling the effects of fatigue at least as he has had a good season while Song improved after the break. Keeping the ball is still a problem; last year the Gunners had nearly 60% possession but this time it was reversed. It is a vital form of defense as well as attack but some time together for pre-season showed rectify that.
There was time for one last twist or call that two as Arshavin made it four with a counter attack but Benayoun capped an even better performance with a late header. Arshavin is still very much a counter attacking player and yet to accustom to the Arsenal way of playing, as shown by his anonymity apart from the goals. But it all adds up to the potential of this side. Arsenal may have drawn but they have got the winning habit at the moment.
Man of the Match: Yossi Benayoun– The Israeli was everywhere, linking up play, finding space and dragging players out with his clever movement, also scoring two goals.
Arsenal:Fabianski (7), Sagna (6), Toure (6), Silvestre (5), Gibbs (7), Arshavin (9), Song (6) Fabregas (7), Denilson (5) (Walcott 65), Nasri (7), Bendtner (6) (Diaby 90).
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Eduardo, Vela, Ramsey, Eboue.
Goals:Arshavin 36, 67, 70, 90.
Liverpool:Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio, Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun, Kuyt (El Zhar 86), Riera (Babel 74), Torres.
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Lucas, Ngog, Skrtel.
Goals:Torres 49, Benayoun 56, Torres 72, Benayoun 90.
Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|14||Shots on Target||4|
|9||Shots off Target||4|