Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool – Improving Reds Make A Case At The Emirates

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

By Jonathan Carroll

Compared to Liverpool’s last appearance at the Emirates stadium in November, Sundays FA Cup game was a vast improvement in comparison. Liverpool dominated the game for large spells and were unlucky not to get a replay when Luis Suarez was blatantly tripped by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box. Referee Howard Webb arrogantly waved a finger at Suarez’s appeal and decided to play on. Liverpool supporters and players alike were mystified.

Brendan Rodgers’ men had only last week beaten Arsenal 5-1 at Anfield and they could have been 2-0 up inside fifteen minutes if Daniel Sturridge had been more accurate with his two early chances. Arsenal made Liverpool pay the price when Oxlade-Chamberlain side footed home after some ping pong in the Liverpool box following an Arsenal corner.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez were causing Arsenal problems and Suarez could have pulled one back straight after half time. Arsenals Luis Fabianski saved well with his feet and the gunners proceeded to counter in flowing style with a well rounded move finished off by Lukas Podolski.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Steven Gerrard and Liverpool would continue to probe and were handed a life line when Podolski fouled Suarez from behind in the Arsenal box. Gerrard dispatched the penalty with ease sending Fabianski the wrong way. Arsenal sat back and Liverpool pinned them in their own half. Coutinho and Sturridge looked to combine but the Englishman’s touch was off and Arsenal escaped another scare.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

The second penalty decision came and went in the blink of an eye. On first glance it is a blatant foul. Replays make it an even more horrific non-decision from Howard Webb. One can only wonder what the “top” English official has to say in relation to why he didn’t award it. Accountability is one thing referees do not have in professional football. Rugby referees are miked up. They talk through the game and explain their decisions. One possible route for the FA to go if they want transparency in the game.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Brendan Rodgers will have taken comfort from how his team played, regardless of the result. Liverpool were the more impressive team and their football right now is above anything in the league apart from Manchester City at times. The difference being Rodgers is accomplishing his ideal team with the bones of a squad and funding that doesn’t even compare to that of City.

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

With no midweek games to hinder the reds from now until seasons end, they can fully prepare for every league game. Other top four competitors will have other tournaments to occupy themselves. Squad depth will be exposed. Liverpool are the “dark horses” as Rodgers said after Fulham. Dark horses who could raise a few eyebrows.

Arsenal

  • 21 Fabianski – 6
  • 25 Jenkinson – 5
  • 17 Monreal (Booked) – 4
  • 08 Arteta – 6
  • 04 Mertesacker – 5
  • 06 Koscielny – 5
  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gibbs – 76′ ) – 7
  • 20 Flamini (Booked) – 6
  • 22 Sanogo (Giroud – 88′ ) – 7
  • 11 Özil – 6
  • 09 Podolski – 7 (Cazorla – 69′ )

Substitutes

  • 03 Sagna
  • 10 Wilshere
  • 12 Giroud
  • 13 Viviano
  • 19 Cazorla
  • 28 Gibbs
  • 44 Gnabry

Liverpool

  • 01 Jones – 6
  • 38 Flanagan (Booked) – 7
  • 20 Cissokho  – 6 (Henderson – 62′ )
  • 08 Gerrard  – 8 (Booked)
  • 37 Skrtel – 6
  • 05 Agger – 6
  • 24 Allen – 4
  • 10 Coutinho – 6 (Booked)
  • 15 Sturridge – 6
  • 07 Suarez – 7
  • 31 Sterling – 8

Substitutes

  • 04 Kolo Touré
  • 09 Iago Aspas
  • 12 Moses
  • 14 Henderson
  • 22 Mignolet
  • 34 Kelly
  • 53 J. Teixeira
Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance: 59,801
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