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Arsenal (Van Persie 24′) 1-1 Liverpool (Keane 42′)
Stadium: Emirates Stadium, England
Competition: English Premier League
Date: 21 December 2008
Kickoff: 16:00 GMT, 11:00 EST
Arsenal and Liverpool fought to an ill-tempered draw at the Emirates. Soccerlens brought you the action live! Click below for the live-blog and feel free to leave comments!
Just when you think you have Arsenal all figured out, they go and turn conventional wisdom on its head. Arsenal have beaten Chelsea and Manchester United this season. They’ve also lost to Stoke City, Manchester City, and Hull. When it looks like they are about to fall out of contention, they go and pick up a huge win. When it looks like they are about to build some momentum, they go out and stink up the field. Last week was a perfect example of that as Arsenal, coming off two straight wins including a rousing come-from-behind effort against Chelsea, lost points by drawing against Middlesbrough. For a while, they even had the market cornered on turmoil. This week, they’ll actually be the drama-free side for once as compared to their opponents.
Liverpool are also trying to figure out their identity. They’ve looked nothing like the side that’s led or been tied for the league lead for most of the first half of the season. They dropped points last weekend to Hull City, falling behind 2-0 at home before rallying back to earn the draw. They’ve had chances to put some distance between themselves and their rivals, but their mediocre form has ensured that the race will remain tight for the foreseeable future. Plus, they’ve just spent an entire week deflecting the Robbie Keane controversy. It will be interesting to see if he gets off the bench for this match.
Both sides badly need a win. Will Arsenal, once again, save their best for the big matches? Will Liverpool continue to struggle? Tune in and find out!
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy, Denilson, Fabregas (c), Song, Nasri, Adebayor, Van Persie.
Subs: Fabianski, Diaby, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Eboue, Silvestre
Only one change from the side that drew against Middlesbrough last weekend. Nasri, who missed last weekend’s match with an injury, will start in place of Diaby. Bendtner was a late scratch, while Toure will miss out once again. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Eboue gets, if he plays. He was booed the last time he played at Emirates, after he tackled his own player, repeatedly gave the ball away in midfield, and had to be subbed off even though he had come on as a sub himself.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Insua, Kuyt, Lucas, Alonso, Riera, Gerrard, Keane.
Subs: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Benayoun, Babel, Ngog, Plessis, El Zhar.
Keane actually gets a start! Stop the presses! Other than Keane, there are a few other changes from the side that drew with Hull last weekend. Hyypia will be replaced by Agger (another player rumored to be on the way out), and Insua will come in for Dossena. No Mascherano today, as Lucas will start in midfield in his place. Babel (another player who could be packing his bags soon) will start out on the bench.
90′ + 4 There’s the whistle and we’re done! Thank you to everyone who joined in today! Have a happy holidays! Don’t drink and drive!
90′ + 3 Foul against Denilson and Arsenal will have a free kick from just behind the center line. They put everyone in the box to try and steal one, but Almunia’s kick eludes everyone and goes out. Well, you can’t accuse Arsenal of being content to sit on the point.
90′ + 2 Good chance for Van Persie as Clichy finds him with a cross in the center of the box. His header is tame, though, and easily handled by Reina.
90′ + 1 Eboue will come on for Arsenal. Well, they’re already booing, might as well give the fans something else to jeer. Nasri will come off. Then again, maybe the fans were really chanting E-booooo-ue!
90′ Good chance as Ngog gets on the end of Insua’s cross from the left flank. His header just bounces wide of the far post. There will be three minutes added on.
89′ I guess a tie wouldn’t be the worst thing for Liverpool, but why not go for the win? You have a man advantage for crying out loud!
87′ Liverpool will bring off Lucas for Ngog.
86′ Agger nearly scores as his shot just goes wide of the post .
84′ Poor corner as Van Persie’s inswinger is easily cleared.
83′ Arsenal win a corner and let’s see what they can do here.
82′ El Zhar is on for Keane, who hears the boos on his way off the pitch. Music to his ears, no doubt.
81′ Deep cross from Babel and his cross is picked out by Almunia. He immediately tries to spring the counterattack, and Lucas gets booked for a hard foul on Diaby.
80′ Nasri tries a shot from long-range, but it’s well off target.
79′ Babel makes a run into the box, but Gallas does well to take it away. Babel lost his footing somewhat, and, to his credit, he’s not flailing his arms or crying out to the ref for a penalty.
78′ Smart play from Carragher as long pass form Song is to Van Persie, who has room to run. Carragher slows him down just enough so that his defenders can get back.
77′ Nasri gets into the box, but Agger and Carragher do well to close him off. Nasri then throws himself into Carragher, trying to draw the free kick, but Webb declines to blow the whistle again.
75′ Gerrard keys the counterattack and he makes a run towards the box. He goes down on the edge of the box and he is demanding a foul from Webb. No love for Gerrard, though, as Webb actually declines to blow the whistle for once.
73′ Van Persie takes a shot inside the box, but it takes a light deflection and is easily taken by Reina.
72′ Van Persie nearly spears a counterattack, but Carragher takes him down and is booked.
71′ It will be Riera that makes way, which is a little surprising. I would have thought Lucas would come off, but Riera looks like he might be hurting a bit.
70′ Sagna then slides in with a wild tackle on Riera as he makes a break down the left. He deservedly gets booked and Babel looks like he will be coming on. Liverpool needs attackers out there and Babel would be the obvious choice off the bench.
69′ Van Persie wins it and sends it to Song. Song breaks into the box, but he hesitates somewhat, and Liverpool are able to recover. He tries to send it back to Van Persie, but Kuyt tracks back to help clear it away from danger.
66′ The crowd is still angry about that call, and so is Arsene Wenger. The crowd is raining boos onto the field. Van Persie then gets booked for a rash challenge and he probably deserved that one. Arsenal better be careful that they don’t lose their cool here.
63′ Denilson gets it on the break and he takes the shot. It’s wide of the post and Van Persie was in the area, albeit well-marked.
62′ It looks like Adebayor caught Arbeloa’s thigh, but it was definitely not worth a card. The only thing I can think of is that maybe Adebayor said something. Even then, I don’t think he deserved to be sent off.
61′ Adebayor gets it in the box, and he tries to lay it off to Diaby. He can’t handle it, though, and he has to send it back. Eventually, Adebayor gets booked for a foul on Arbeloa and Webb gives him a second yellow and he’s been sent off! Wow.
59′ Van Persie gives away another free kick in a dangerous location. This one will be about 35 yards away or so. Gerrard sends it on the ground to Keane inside the box. His shot is deflected out, but he’s waved offside.
57′ Kuyt wins a corner off Clichy and Gerrard is laboring slightly. He had gotten absolutely wiped out on that charge. Alonso’s corner is towards Agger, but his header goes well over the crossbar for a goal kick.
56′ Adebayor tries to get into the box from the left wing, but Carragher closes him down well and takes it away.
54′ They show Rosicky and Eduardo in the stands. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Rosicky in action that I had almost forgotten what he looked like. As for Eduardo, it’s good to see him almost back in action. Even Arsenal haters can agree on that.
53′ Insua with a cross into the box from the left for Keane. He tries to flick it on target, but Djourou had him well covered and Almunia easily takes it and.
52′ Keane tries to get behind the center-backs again, but this time he jumps early and is called offside. Well, you’ve got to keep trying.
51′ Adebayor goes down on the edge of the box, and Howard Webb, surprisingly, doesn’t blow the whistle. Back the other way as Liverpool’s attack is cut out when Kuyt is called for the foul. Oh good. I was worried that Webb had lost his whistle or something.
48′ Fabregas has a knee injury and it could be a torn MCL. That could be a huge loss for Arsenal. BTW, Almunia is the new captain. I should have figured that.
47′ Gerrard’s kick is to Keane in the box, but he can’t handle. It’s out to Lucas who sends in a hard shot on target that forces a diving save from Almunia.
46′ Big loss for Arsenal as Fabregas is out and Diaby is in. Huge advantage to Liverpool now. Diaby is called for a foul on Riera and Liverpool will get a free kick from the edge of the box.
46′ Huge win for Newcastle today. Damien Duff scored a last-gasp winner against Tottenham.
46′ We’ll see if Fabregas can go in the second half. If not, then you can bet Arsene will have something to say about that. I’m only wondering if the words “bloody murder” will be involved.
Anyway, I was all set to write about how great Arsenal looked and about how they deserved their lead. Then Robbie Keane broke through their trap and gave Liverpool life going into the half. Both sides will have to make adjustments as Liverpool’s midfield have not been able to keep possession, while Arsenal’s defense has suffered some breakdowns that nearly led to more Liverpool goals. Lucas has been poor and I would expect him to make way at some point, and if Clichy and/or Djourou continue playing poorly, then we can probably expect to see Silvestre sooner rather than later.
45′ + 3 Poor short corner from Liverpool and Arsenal take it away. They try and go on the break and Alonso collides with Fabregas. The whistle blows and we’re at halftime, but Fabregas looks like he’s hurt. That could be a huge loss for Arsenal. More importantly, who would get the armband if he sits? Surely not Gallas, right?
45′ + 2 Kuyt with a hard shot that forces Almunia to make a diving save. Liverpool will have a corner, but we have a delay as Van Persie is down in the box. Apparently, Riera made slight contact with him and Van Persie really tried to sell it.
45′ + 1 Two minutes will be added on.
45′ Another great chance for Liverpool as Kuyt takes it away from Clichy near the box and centers it Gerrard. The Liverpool skipper can’t quite get to it, and his sliding shot goes over the crossbar. Wow, did this game get turned on its head or what?
42′ GOAL! Great pass from Agger from long range and Keane gets in behind Djourou and Gallas. He puts it past Almunia and what a great way to silence those critics! Keane cups his hand to his ear and I’m sure he’s not just taunting the Arsenal fans in attendance. Arsenal’s offside trap bit them in the ass on that play.
41′ Van Persie’s free kick is directly to Gerrard, and he clears it away.
40′ Another foul on Lucas and Arsenal will have a chance from 40 yards out or so.
39′ Gerrard sends a wild shot from long range that sails into the cheap seats. Arsenal will take that any day.
38′ Adebayor gets booked harshly after he pushes Insua to the ground. Does Webb need to make his quota before the end of the year or something?
37′ Arsenal are playing their line pretty high. Liverpool nearly caught them early in the match when Keane got behind them. Let’s see if they can figure out how to do it again.
35′ Poor back pass to Agger forces the center back to kick it away. He nearly finds Keane breaking through the middle, but Almunia is there to intercept it.
33′ Gerrard wins a free kick from Denilson and Liverpool will have a good chance from about 35 yards out or so. Stupid play from Denilson, who clearly shoved Gerrard to the ground. Gerrard will take it and he gets it around the wall. It’s got too much bend, though, and Almunia easily catches it.
30′ Arsenal still on the attack and they pass it around the box. Sagna gets open down the right and tries to whip in the cross, but Agger takes it. His clearance is poor, though, and Arsenal get it back. Ultimately, Sagna loses it past the touchline for a Liverpool throw.
29′ Another whistle and Arsenal will have a chance from 45 yards away or so. Van Persie sends it into the box, but Carragher clears it.
28′ Liverpool can’t seem to keep possession of the ball. Their latest attack is short-circuited when Kuyt gives it away.
26′ Wow! What a great strike from Van Persie (and with his right foot, no less!) and an even better pass from Nasri. Meanwhile, Riera gets in deep down the left flank. He tries to center the ball, but it’s cleared away by Djourou.
24′ GOAL Great pass from Nasri who spots Van Persie as he gets between Carragher and Agger. Van Persie chests it down, turns to his right, and hits a hard shot that just eludes a sliding Carragher that easily beats Reina!
21 Clichy is back on the field, and we’ll see if he stays in the match.
19′ Free kick from a good 40 yards out, and Gerrard sends it into the box. Alonso makes a good move to keep possession and tries to lift it to Keane. It’s behind him, and Clichy manages to get to the ball first. Keane slides in with a wild tackle and he gets booked. In fairness to Keane, it did look like he was going for the ball. Clichy is hurt and Silvestre is warming up.
18′ Fabregas sends in the corner, but Kuyt clears it. Gerrard gets behind the defense down the right flank, but he has trouble handling the pass and gives it away. Arsenal go on the break, but Fabregas is called for the foul.
17′ Adebayor runs at Carragher and gets past him easily. He dances and manuevers in the box before Liverpool knock it away for a corner.
14′ Arsenal on the attack as Sagna sends in a low cross from the right wing and Adebayor manages to get his head on it. Reina is able to make the stop, though, and Liverpool fans can exhale. Very good match so far. Excellent pace, which is a little surprising. The way to beat Arsenal is to make it a physical battle not play a wide open style. That’s how Arsenal were able to beat United but lost to Hull, Stoke, and City.
13′ Arsenal attack gets cut short by a poor cross from Clichy that sails out of bounds. Clichy has been very shaky this year. A far cry from last year, when he was one of the best in the league.
12′ Giveaway as Keane tries to play it to Kuyt, but the Dutchman can’t handle it. Nasri makes a strong run into the box and sends it in to Adebayor. He tries to fire on goal, but he gets closed down by two defenders. It looks like it may have come off a Liverpool defender, but ref calls for the goal kick.
10′ Long pass into the box for Keane, who is behind the defense and he is surprisingly on-side. He lays it back for Gerrard, who sends a shot right into Almunia’s arms. Keane could really put those rumors to bed with a goal in this fixture. On the replay, it looks like Clichy was playing him on-side, so good call from the refs.
8′ Sagna lifts a cross from deep down the right. It looks like it might have gone out, but he sends in the cross towards goal. Adebayor and Reina go for it, and Reina can’t handle it cleanly. The ball is loose, but Liverpool is able to clear it off the line! No matter, since the ref rules the ball went across the end-line before Sagna sent in his cross. It will be a goal-kick.
7′ Lucas almost commits a terrible howler as he sends it back and Adebayor nearly gets a gift, but Van Persie is called for a foul.
5′ Gerrard tries to spring Riera into the box with a long through-ball, but Sagna takes it away. Another whistle from Webb near the center line as Insua gets called for the foul. Webb was very whistle-happy during the Manchester derby a few weeks ago. Let’s hope this isn’t more of the same.
4′ Another whistle as Lucas fouls Denilson. Fabregas sends in the free kick from near the center line and Reina corrals it. Adebayor was lurking nearby, but Reina confidently took it there.
2′ Nasri gets fouled in his defensive half by Lucas. Nasri then gives the ball away and Liverpool will have it fora throw-in.
1′ Liverpool kick off and we’re under way! Howard Webb is our ref.
0′ Here they come out of the tunnel. Liverpool are wearing their grey kits today. No Rafa Benitez today, as he has remained behind in Liverpool to recover from kidney stones. No doubt brought on by that Hull game.
0′ I think this whole Robbie Keane thing has been overblown by the media. Still, I can’t believe that Liverpool are thinking about selling him. They paid 20 million for him in the summer and they’re thinking about selling him back to Spurs at 1/4 the price? Why not just keep and see if he can work out? Isn’t that better than selling him back for next to nothing? If he produces, great. If not, then dump him in the summer.
0′ Liverpool could be a different looking team by this time next month, but I would be shocked if Xabi Alonso goes anywhere. I know Arsenal fans are dreaming about him, and I think he would be perfect playing in central midfield with Fabregas. But he’s been one of Liverpool’s best players this year and he isn’t going anywhere. At least not this season.
0′ West Brom just beat Manchester City. Wow. I’d be very worried about my job if I were Mark Hughes. Although it’s not out of the question that they’ll keep him on for the rest of the year and then see if Jose Mourinho is available in the summer.
0′ Crap! Robbie Keane is starting. There goes my joke…
0′ This should be a really good game and we’ll really find out a lot about both of these teams. Liverpool seem to play better on the road this year and Arsenal seem to play better against good teams. It’s strange to think that, despite their struggles, both teams have a chance to take maximum points against their fellow Big Four teams in the first half of the season.
0′ Hello everyone and welcome to Soccerlens’ coverage of the big Liverpool vs. Arsenal match! I’m Victor and I’ll be your live-blogger today!
Even though Liverpool earned the point on the road, I have to say it was a disappointing outing for them. You would think that they would have gone on the offensive once Adebayor went off, but they seemed content to sit back, even giving Arsenal some chances to steal it near the end. Robbie Keane may have silenced his critics, at least for a week or so, and they’ll be in first place going into Boxing Day if Chelsea stumble tomorrow against Everton. Still, not a great showing for them, especially in the second half when so many things were in their favor.
As for Arsenal, it was a gutsy performance in the face of adversity, but it won’t get them closer to the top. Adebayor’s dismissal will be the main flashpoint, but the loss of Fabregas could be a killer blow. If he has an MCL tear, then it could be curtains for the rest of the season, and that would all but ensure that Arsenal would be fighting for the UEFA Cup next year. Arsenal fans better pray that he’s okay.
Man of the Match:
He’s been through a lot these last couple of weeks, and for him to come through the way he did speaks volumes about his professionalism. There were other good candidates. Carragher (who, like Arsenal, seems to play well in big matches this year) was great in the back, and Nasri had a good game distributing the ball and creating chances for Arsenal. Van Persie had a solid outing as well, and his goal was world class. As for the goats, Gerrard was largely invisible today, as was Adebayor up until he got dismissed. Lucas was ineffective as Liverpool clearly missed Mascherano, and Clichy continues to play poorly on the left.