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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.

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  1. Jorge Curioso

    December 15, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Just noticed. Ben Johnson was at fault twice on the Arshavin goal. First, it looks like he lets the ball go through his feet to the Russian, then he lets Arshavin skip by him to shoot unmarked.

    “Fatigued” may be too generous…

  2. Jorge Curioso

    December 15, 2009 at 1:47 am

    Liverpool were lucky last year. This year, their position is more in line with their performance. Expect further decline until Benitez finally leaves.

  3. jleau

    December 15, 2009 at 12:55 am

    I’m an Arsenal fan and there was more than a bit of luck in it. Should have been a penalty (though not nearly the worse call of the year) and an own goal to level. It’s hard not to call that good fortune.

    Arsenal have been on the giving end of those decisions so I think it balances out.

    Regardless, the Gunners are too small and they have no hold up play at all. Even in the second half when they were getting a bit of possession, they struggles horribly to get numbers forward. Arshavin is a wonderful little player but they are going to need someone bigger up top to consistently score goals.

  4. Gunner JD

    December 14, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    I think the author’s sentiment is pretty close to the mark, in that there wasn’t anything necessarily miraculous that happened, but a combination of some poor choices, poor refereeing, and some luck on both sides. I think Arsenal did indeed get lucky, and to my mind this kind of balances out the United game from a few months ago. They say you make your own luck, be it good or bad, and both teams made theirs.

    I hope the Wenger tirade is true, since it shows that the Professor has some fire in there deep down, and the Gunners seemed to respond to it. This is a very good sign for Arsenal, since they didn’t play very well for the first half of the game, and still got a result against a top 4 side (well, theoretically).

    But then you have to consider the Reds. There is a cloud over Liverpool these days, and they disintegrated after Johnson’s own goal, so what did Arsenal really accomplish?

    Still, I was proud to see the Gunner’s response in the second half. We had to have these points, no matter what it took, and we got them. If he is truly class, Wenger should mail a nice little thank you note to Howard Webb in any case. Ol’ Howie probably has a few of those from PL managers already I suspect…

  5. Gaz

    December 14, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I’m done with football and I’m not watching that rubbish Liverpool team ever again. 🙂

    • ovalball

      December 14, 2009 at 10:51 am

      …..and you’re changing your avatar, today! 😀

  6. john

    December 14, 2009 at 6:35 am

    is it me or have the big 4 clashes become increasingly dull and hard to watch with both teams too worried about losing than wanting to win.
    when was the last time there was an exciting big 4 clash?!

    • The Gaffer

      December 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

      John, Arsenal against Chelsea a few weeks ago was an excellent match. A bit one-sided, yes. To me, there haven’t been any major Big Four matches that have been classics this season in the sense that both teams have played magnificently, but it’s far better than previous seasons where the games have been either more tense and boring and ugly to watch.

      The Gaffer

      • Simon Burke

        December 14, 2009 at 9:30 am

        Ugh, that Arsenal Chelsea game was awful. Arsenal were never in it. Arsenal v United at OT earlier this year was excellent, Chelsea v United wasnt too bad – not great football but very tense and full of petulance 🙂

        • The Gaffer

          December 14, 2009 at 9:43 am

          It’s all subjective. Arsenal supporters are going to complain about the level of excitement from the game against Chelsea. Personally I thought the Man United v Arsenal match earlier in the season wasn’t that exciting except for the Rooney incident.

          The Gaffer

    • 50

      December 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

      apparently you missed this corresponding fixture last year.
      Arseshavin scoured four at Anfield,ring a bell?

  7. Baz

    December 14, 2009 at 3:28 am

    ok, im pretty sure there was an offside leading up to the penalty claim, did anyone else notice this? i think gallas was pissed off after it because of that (why would he complain and throw his hands in the air after getting away with no foul)

    yes it shuldve been a penalty (im an arsenal fan) but find justice in the fact it seemed offside leading up to it

  8. Alvin Phoon

    December 14, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Chris: Yes the rulebook probably says that. But when you apply it to the actual game, few referees would give it. Imagine if they did. Every other match, the goalkeeper comes out to dive at a player’s feet, he puts the balls into the stands and trips over the keeper, and they get a penalty. Imagine how exploited that rule would be. No decent referee would blindly adhere to the rules.

    Yes I would love to see the tirade too. Sounds like it could be terribly fun to watch.

  9. Chris from Texas

    December 14, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Miracle 1: You are wrong, just look at the rulebook. No matter how far that ball goes it was still in his possession, so unless the ball is out of bounds before the foul it should have been awarded.

    Miracle 2: Wenger giving an angry tirade? I would love to see it! Where is the Special 1 TV when you need it?

    Miracle 3: A total fluke, but it happens. The ball was in a weird spot, the pitch was slippery. He was having a great game until that moment.

    Miracle 4: One of the best, if not the best, goals of the season. Even as a Liverpool fan I was stunned at how amazing it was.

    • oliver

      December 14, 2009 at 5:14 am

      possibly the best goal of the season? Wasn’t even the best goal of the weekend

  10. Pat

    December 14, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Divine intervention? No

    Few lucky breaks? Yes

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