On a day where the weather saw two Premier League ties called off, one London side will be glad their match was played while Liverpool will be wishing their tie at Stoke City was frozen off.
Whenever Arsenal and Bolton get together, you know two things are certain. The first being it will be a physical affair and the second being it will be a tight affair regardless of how well each side is doing in the league. How Kevin Davies played the first half without a yellow or even a red card is beyond my imagination. But Bolton’s style was to be expected. It almost was as expected the way Arsenal struggled to get the opener.
Until the 70th minute, I didn’t think Arsenal had a goal in them. But once the cross bar was hit, it just seemed like it was a matter of time. Clichy finding Van Persie on the run and Bendtner just getting in front of Jlloyd Samuel to keep them in distance of the top four. Doing so after a frustrating afternoon with six minutes to spare only helped those matters. After the lunchtime kickoff, it would have been another blow to have only received one point.
Special people help create those defining moment of a season, and for Arsenal Robin Van Persie has been that person for them this season. To finally put that final puzzle piece together for three points was something they needed to warm up on a bitterly cold afternoon in North London.
Liverpool on the other hand are probably wishing their tea time affair with Stoke City would have been frozen off. After nearly giving up a goal that should have never been allowed (the crossbar saved Liverpool…and the referee’s blushes twelve minutes in), Liverpool were almost left in the dust with sixteen minutes left after a Delap rocket found the head of Dave Kitson. That ball didn’t miss by much and really cemented the fact that while Stoke City didn’t have much of the ball, they were certainly more in control of the game.
Liverpool though seem to find a winner from nothing in these situations, and late in the match they had their chances. Steven Gerrard’s free kick six minutes from time probably the best chance. However the angle from which the free kick was taken, I can’t classify it as a quality chance at three points. Gerrard’s chance in the first minute of stoppage time I’d qualify as half a chance at best.
It’s embarrassing when a team that has 2/3rd of the possession only can get off 11 shots, 2 of those on target (per Soccernet). Stoke City from my eyes had the two best chances of the game and Liverpool were very lucky to get a point out of this match. Liverpool’s lack of quality chances cost them. For a side to have as much talent as they claim, they should be able to break down a side that was intent on attacking via the counter and the Delap special. It makes me also wonder if Benitez opened his mouth a little too soon?