Arsenal And Divine Intervention
Thirty minutes before the Arsenal Liverpool game, my mate (a Liverpool fan) turns to me and tells me that we need a miracle to beat them. At the final whistle, he looks at me with a huge frown on his face and says that we had four. I personally don’t believe in miracles, so let’s try to clear things up.
Alleged Miracle Number 1: Howard Webb denies Liverpool a penalty after Gallas brings him down in the area.
Tricky from the very beginning. Did i feel it was a penalty when I first saw it? I was clutching my head, cursing at the telly, so yes. However, upon inspecting the replay, I noticed that Gerrard seemed to tap the ball forward a little too hard before Gallas slid in. My opinion is that if his touch hadn’t been so heavy, Howard Webb would probably have awarded Liverpool the penalty. The distance the ball covered after Gerrard’s touch seemed to insinuate that Gerrard was looking to be brought down, and that is probably why Webb didn’t give it. As Vermaelen put it during the post game interview, “the ball was miles away’.
Miracle? Hardly. It was either a poor touch or a poor idea from a player who’s just returned after 6 weeks out.
Alleged Miracle Number 2: Arsene Wenger’s Tirade
Did it really happen? Is it possible that one of the calmest and most composed managers in the Premier League blew his top at half time? Sounds more like Fergie’s Hairdryer doesn’t it. The fact is Arsenal’s first half performance was no worse than their performance at Chelsea. Why didn’t Arsene launch his tirade then? It appears that it took 135 minutes of poor football to push poor Arsene over the edge. Miracle? I don’t think so. You try being in his shoes and see how long you can hold it in.
Alleged Miracle Number 3: Johnson Own Goal
Indeed, I don’t think anyone would’ve expected Glenn Johnson to score an own goal before the match. He has been surprisingly sharp since joining Liverpool, scoring on a few occasions and creating in others. But the big problem is because he goes forward so much, he sometimes neglects his defensive duties. Running up and down the pitch for 90 minutes is no mean feat. When Arsenal broke for their attack which led to the equaliser, Johnson had to track back and while running, he looked tired and sluggish. The low cross came in from Nasri and Johnson inexplicably tapped it into his own net, with Walcott lurking. He could have easily put it out for a corner, but it seemed like he was too tired to realise where he was aiming for. Back of the net, equaliser for Arsenal.
Miracle? Definitely not. Poor decision making on Johnson’s part. If he had stayed behind during that play, he most certainly would have prevented Arsenal from equalising.
Alleged Miracle Number 4: Arshavin Wonder goal
4 against Liverpool last season. 1 last night. The man was born to score wonder goals. Quick first touch, almost no back-lift, and a powerful strike combined with the post to give Arsenal the winner. What miracle?
Did Arsenal deserve to win? Based on the second half performances of both teams, I’d say yes. But I’d attribute it partly to luck. This result will either be the turning point of their season, or just another pleasant result among many unpleasant ones. As for Liverpool, they are surely out of the title race now. I do believe, however, that they will turn things around. Its too late for the title, but a top 4 finish still beckons.