Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Things Can Sometimes Get Better

Liverpool 3 Arsenal 6 ... Carling Cup Quarter Final Who could have dreamed that an Arsenal second squad (we mustn't call them Reserves because that they aren't) could go to Anfield, field 6 or so players aged 17 or thereabouts and thrash a Liverpool side that included Gerrard, Bellamy, Fowler and several other first team members? Okay, they too had a few youngsters but the spirit and strength of Arsenal was too much for them.

After Arsenal had taken the lead, Liverpool were quick to come back but they were then overpowered. Arsenal's splendid six was the biggest home defeat Liverpool have suffered since 1914. The Gunners were without their first team regulars except Cesc Fabregas and the determined and often brilliant, Kolo Toure, who was aptly skipper for the night. Jeremie Aliadiere had his best ever game and carved the Liverpool defence wide open with thrusting runs several times to provide cutting passes that gave Brazilian Julio Baptista (known as The Beast) two of his four goals, one of them an amazing curling direct free kick that gave Dubcek no chance. It was a shame that Baptista's penalty, when his personal goal tally was then at two, was hit too close to the Liverpool goalkeeper that allowed him to push it wide otherwise the score line would have been even better and Baptista would have been an even bigger hero. An away player hitting four goals at Anfield must be a record in any case?

Arsene was bubbling with praise for his youngsters and rightly so more especially as they managed to outscore the 3-1 victory gained by the first squad in the Premiership at Anfield just three days ago. But the peformance by the lads tonight was fluent, uncomplicated football and they managed to carve openings in the home side's defence with remarkable ease that was a pleasure to watch. The team's play seemed more direct, less complicated than that of the first team and they managed to score without needing to try to walk the ball into the net. Sometimes Arsenal can be guilty of playing exciting football that is too complicated. As a result they are scoring less goals than they should.

Manuel Almunia, who it must be said, looked positively shaky when he first came to the club seems to have developed a much improved and safer style that is less flashy than Lehmann. The Spaniard is also less volatile and less lilely therefore to risk giving goals away after throwing his toys out of the pram.

The other goals came from Aliadiere and Song. Maybe Aliadiere, after tonight's performance, will no longer wish to leave the club ... or was he merely advertising his strengths to all comers that will surely raise the odds on any transfer fee demanded by the club.

Nine goals in three days away at Liverpool cannot be bad and the results at least have lifted my depressison a little. Bring on Spurs for the Semi-final.

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