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Halftime Thoughts–Liverpool vs. Arsenal (Second Leg)

I’m typing this as sort of a live blog as the game goes on, so yes, there are a few contradictions but soccer is a game that can change very quickly.

• Clever stuff from Derek Rae right before kickoff…“most anticipated end to a trilogy since Return of the Jedi.” Quality.

• Good to see Peter Crouch rewarded for his great game last weekend with a start today. Yes, it changed the shape that Liverpool has been successful with recently, but Crouch deserved a run-out. Rumors of a slight knock for Babel also played into Benitez’s decision.

• VERY shaky first few minutes for Liverpool; if only Arsenal could’ve stayed onside and shown some composure, the Gunners could’ve had a precious early away goal sooner than they got one.

• Gerrard is playing wide left in name only. He’s roaming a fair bit, which is fine because Alonso and Mascherano are back there to clean everything up.

• Reina should’ve saved Diaby’s goal. Diaby struck it very well, but Reina needed to get more of his body behind the ball, preferably a hand, and at least deflect it somewhere else. No excuse for getting beat at the near post.

• Adebayor is running Hyypia ragged. Can’t understand why Hyypia is even starting; Carragher matches up better against Adebayor physically and Steve Finnan is a natural right back.

• Correct decision in not awarding Liverpool a penalty when Kuyt went down in the box midway through the half. Arsenal didn’t get a close call last week; Liverpool wasn’t going to get one this week.

• Hyypia’s goal means he’ll probably be at Liverpool until he’s 57 years old. Might as well hand him a long-term contract right now. Just joking, of course, but he’s been a loyal servant to the club and although he’s lost more than a step defensively, his goal today was hugely significant.

• Losing Flamini is a big blow for Arsenal. Gilberto gives the Gunners basically nothing going forward and has shown his age this season. He’s not nearly as quick as he used to be and while he is certainly experienced, Liverpool can exploit him if they’re patient enough with the ball.

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