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Watford 3-0 Liverpool: There’s Only One Invincible

Image result for sarr liverpool goal

26 wins, 12 draws, immortality. This record stood proud for the best part of 16 years (yes, it’s that long since we won the league) and it was heavily threatened by Jurgen Klopp and his rampant Liverpool side.

To be fair, it seemed really likely for the Merseyside outfit to break the unbeaten record with the ruthless way they went about playing their football. There were games where Liverpool’s sheer quality was more than enough to see them gain maximum points while there were other games when they had a bit of lady luck on their side with enough in the tank to see them through. 

Coming into the game at Vicarage Road, the league leaders were in their usual bullish confident mode, thinking that the quality of their prolific striking trio, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were going to do the damage. In the first half, there were half chances for both sides, but Watford seemed likelier to score and that duly happened when Ismaila Sarr reacted quicker than Andrew Robertson to nick it past Alisson Becker in goal. Alisson has had an exemplary clean sheet record this season, so you could understand the sheer elation the Watford fans felt when Sarr opened the scoring. The Senegalese starlet doubled his money when he latched onto Troy Deeney’s through bal in behind the defense and chipped it past Alisson to send Vicarage Road into raptures. Two goals became three when Sarr turned from scorer to provider with the forward receiving a gift of a pass from the usually reliable Trent Alexander-Arnold and cushioning it for Deeney that fired the ball into an unguarded net.

This sensational defeat to Watford saw Liverpool go unbeaten for 44 games in the Premier League stretching back to January 2019 when they lost that crucial title decider to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Fans were hopeful, lemme rephrase, Arsenal fans remained hopeful that Liverpool was going to lose a match this season, and the game against Manchester City was earmarked as that game, which coincidentally was the 49th game. Survive that fixture and Arsenal’s eternal 49-game unbeaten record was going up in flames.

So here we stand, the morning after, still mourning the Europa League heartbreak on Thursday night, but are filled with joy with the prospect of Liverpool finishing the campaign with their unbeaten record dead and gone. I don’t know or care how they react to this defeat, as my affiliations will always be with Arsenal football club.

Here’s a shout to Ismaila Sarr and Troy “Cojones” Deeney, for ensuring that Liverpool’s Premier League trophy won’t be made of gold. 

That’s simply because, there will only be one invincible.

Sayonara

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Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal: Gunners Implode Against Make Shift Merseyside Outfit

Image result for martinelli liverpool

Match Report Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference (via Arsenal.com)

If you were a neutral fan, you might have enjoyed the great football on display from two fearless sides that had nothing to lose really. Jurgen Klopp made his intentions known with the lineup he fielded – loads of unknowns with only Divock Origi, James Milner, Naby Keita and ex-Gunner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being the only reputable names. In all fairness, the Gunners had a better squad on paper and these are lads that have played together in the previous rounds of the Carabao Cup as well as the Europa League group stages.

However, the Gunners started the game on the back foot when Neco Williams cross was deflected into his own goal by Skhodran Mustafi. The German has been a much maligned figure and was shown the door this summer but he has somewhat revamped himself playing alongside Rob Holding this season, so conceding an own goal brought the ghosts back and fans were having a field day on it. The Gunners didn’t allow that setback deter them as they waltzed forward with some good attacking play. The away side got their reward when Mesut Ozil showed some great composure to tee up Bukayo Saka but the winger’s shot was very tame.

Luckily Caoimhin Kelleher had a bit of the Flappyhandski Syndrome which allowed the ball to get into Lucas Torreira’s path and the diminutive Uruguayan tucked the ball home. Replays showed that Torreira was offside but with no VAR, Arsenal got away scot free. Just five minutes after the restart, the Gunners went 2-1 up following some good work from Ainsley Maitland-Niles on the right hand side with the Brazilian predator, Gabriel Martinelli, smashing the ball in from point blank range. That was his sixth goal in seven starts for the Gunners and I must say, he has been a gem of a player. Martinelli doubled his money when Ozil and Saka latched onto a defensive error from Williams before Saka provided a cut back that was blasted home by Martinelli.

As if we hasn’t seen anything from such a topsy-turvy game, a little bit of karma was on show when the youngest player on the pitch, Harvey Elliot, conned the ref with a nice dive when Martinelli stuck out a foot in the penalty box. Milner wasn’t going to miss and he sent Emi Martinez the wrong way to make it 3-2 just before the break. Milner then had a moment to forget early in the second half when his back pass to his goalie was anticipated by Maitland-Niles but the ball was about to leave the pitch when Ozil showed great presence of mind to tuck it back into play which allowed AMN blast the ball home.

4-2 and everything was looking good but with Arsenal, you just can’t tell. With the ball at the edge of the Arsenal box, Maitland-Niles showed his lack of concentration that allowed the Ox to nick the ball off him and smash in a piledriver that offered a glimmer of hope to the home side. 4-3 became 4-4 minutes later when Origi received the ball from Jones, who was gifted by Torreira, shimmied past his marker and fired a shot that Martinez palmed into the net. I expected the goalie to catch that but hey, that’s football. Emery decided to take off Ozil for Matteo Guendouzi much to the surprise of the Arsenal faithful but he confirmed after the game that it was agreed between both parties that Ozil would play for a specific amount of time.

As if we hadn’t seen enough madness for one night, Joe Willock, that had been somewhat peripheral all game burst into life and blasted a rocket of a shot that breezed past Kelleher to make it 5-4. It was clear that both sides weren’t ready to defend, so Emery obliged us by taking out Torreira for Dani Ceballos, which was another tactical move that got me confused. The fact that we had no more protection in front of the defense wasn’t bad enough, but Ceballos went on to have a stinker and lost the decisive penalty that saw his team eliminated. It wouldn’t have gotten to that if the Gunners just did their jobs and defended, which makes me loathe the final moments of the game that saw Liverpool get yet another equalizer. Saka for the life of me saw Williams on the byline and watched him as he floated a cross into the area. Guendouzi misjudged the flight of the ball and it crept above him before reaching Origi’s foot. Mustafi just stood still and also blocked his goalkeeper and with Martinez blindsided, the only outcome was a goal.

Sadly, it seems that Arsenal doesn’t do any goalkeeping training on penalties, as Martinez offered nothing from the spot kicks and the Gunners lost the contest via the lotteries of penalties. There are some positives we can latch onto like Ozil’s quality that was always glaring from the start, which makes the decision not to play him really stupid. Then there were the Gabriel Martinelli goals (seven goals in eight starts) that are hugely encouraging. I really wanted the Gunners to go all the way in this competition because it offered a good breeding ground for Martinelli and the other youngsters, so with the team eliminated, they will need to stick to just the Europa League for consistent game time, or maybe the FA Cup from January. However, we can’t shy away from the negatives – defending has been such a problem for the team this season and it was on show yet again against a weakened Liverpool side. Emery needs to sort this mess out as we are going to play more games in the course of the season and the defense will be under scrutiny.

All plans will move to the game against Wolves and that’s one we need to win as we are drifting away from the Champions League places.

Sayonara

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Liverpool Salvage a Draw from the Jaws of Defeat

Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen (second left) hauls his side level in the final minute of the game to earn his team a point against Arsenal

Liverpool 3 (Firmino 10′, 19′, Allen 90′) – Arsenal 3 (Ramsey 14′, Giroud 25′, 55′)

Match Report Match HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

It was going to be one of those nights when the atmosphere was going to dictate the proceedings on the pitch. Anfield is a difficult ground to come to and despite Arsenal’s impressive record against Liverpool in recent times, this game was going to be another test of the team’s title credentials. Much was made about Liverpool’s fitness issues but Arsenal had their own injury problems they have been contending with, so in my opinion, it wasn’t enough and I braced myself for a good game of football.

The home side opened the scoring after some poor defending and I must say, questionable goalkeeping from the legendary Petr Cech. The Czech goalkeeper parried a shot straight at Roberto Firmino’s path. The Brazilian’s shot left the goalie flat-footed and put the home side ahead. Arsenal weren’t downcast after conceding so early and they equalized when Aaron Ramsey reacted quickly to a cushioned Joel Campbell pass to blast the ball past Simon Mignolet.

Both teams continued to attack each other and Liverpool went ahead again when Firmino curled the ball from the edge of the area giving Cech no chance. The Gunners leveled the contest again when Olivier Giroud attacked the ball on the near post and it went between Mignolet’s legs to make it 2-2. Just before halftime, Arsenal hit Liverpool on the break with Campell feeding Theo Walcott in behind the defense. Walcott sent an inch-perfect pass to Giroud and all he had to do was tap the ball in but this happened…

Giroud  missed an excellent opportunity to give Arsenal the lead for the first time in the first half, failing to convert from inside six yards

One of the most shocking misses you’d ever see. It probably up there with Gervinho’s miss against Bradford, Robin van Persie’s miss against Sevilla, Tomas Rosicky’s miss against CSKA and Yakubu Aiyegbeni’s miss against South Korea.

Going into the break at 2-2, Arsenal fans kept half an eye on the proceedings at the Etihad Stadium and White Hart Lane. Eventually, Manchester City had a goalless stalemate with Everton while Leicester surprisingly grabbed all three points against Tottenham.

Going into the second half, Arsenal attacked with incisiveness and got the goal their play diserved when Giroud latched onto a loose ball before volleying on the turn. For all the criticism he has received from his own fans and media alike, Giroud has been shutting people up with some virtuoso performances. That was also his 18 goal of the season, just four below his personal best of 22 for the club. At this rate, you can bet your smart money that he could hit the 30-goal mark if he stays fit.

Players got tired with the constant collective defending so change was inevitable. Kieran Gibbs replaced the ineffectual Walcott while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced the hardworking Campbell. These players were tasked with protecting their fullbacks and while Gibbs did his bit to offer some help to Nacho Monreal that was getting torn apart by Jordon Ibe and Nathaniel Clyne. The Ox didn’t offer much aid to Hector Bellerin.

With Liverpool pressing for the equalizer, they were bound to leave spaces at the back and Arsenal had the opportunity to instigate a counter attack that fell to the Ox’s path. All he had to do was to send a cross field ball to the left hand side of the pitch and Arsenal might have just been home and dry to make it 4-2, but no, the dullard chose to dally some more on the ball and as expected, he lost possession to the opposition. Moments like that define games and with more torrid performances, Chamberlain is showing that he cannot be trusted to stake a claim for a starting berth.

With barely seconds to go, the sucker punch happened. Christian Benteke hurled the ball into the danger area and the Welsh Pirlo, Joe Allen, fired a shot that Cech couldn’t parry to salvage a draw for the hosts. 3-3. Sadness, despair, anguish, rage… all sorts of negative emotions filled me up and I’m sure every other Arsenal fan felt the same way.

The manager was frustrated from his post-match conference but while a draw feels so bad, it was a fair reflection of the game but Arsenal would have made a very huge statement if they had won at Anfield. But here we are, level on points with that Leicester that is becoming a thorn.

We play Stoke in the weekend.

Till then, let’s wait for some good news on Elneny. The manager is hopeful that he could be in the matchday squad that would travel to the Britannia.

Sayonara.

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