Sunday, March 4, 2012

Arsenal shock Anfield. Memories. And winning ugly.

Yesterdays win against Liverpool at Anfield will never be remembered for the football that Arsenal played. But, even so, it has given me some of the fondest memories as an Arsenal fan. I'll come to that in a minute.
Both teams went into the game charged up, coming off good weekends. Liverpool even felt the need to parade their Carling Cup before the match. Anyways, the line up was unchanged from last weekend and why wouldn't it be? Liverpool started the game the better side, coming at us with waves of attack. And we kept denying them. Ultimately, clever movement and theatrics helped Suarez get a penalty. Kuyt stepped up, and Szczesny made the save. Dirk Kuyt took the rebound and Szczesny made the save again. How great is that? Truly great. Here comes my memory number 1 - Did you see the way Vermaelen celebrated after Szczesny saved the penalty? It simply showed that even when the other team was on top, the spirit was unbeatable. Moving on, Liverpool kept attacking, and they got the reward when Henderson's low cross was sliced into the net by Koscielny. Now comes my memory number 2 - Immediately after the own goal when Koscielny was down, Szczesny walked up to him and pulled him up! Now, that's great character, that's getting each others back. Did that dent Koscielny's confidence? It did not, had he been left sitting there, maybe it would have. Szczesny made sure Koscielny was up and about like nothing happened. Liverpool kept pressing for a second, but something seemed to be going our way. Yes, we'll call it luck. And eventually, out of the blue, Sagna whipped in the perfect cross, and well, Van Persie does not miss from there, does he? Perfect cross, perfect header. 1-1. We went into the break not at the top, but not out either. Szczesny being our best player, keeping us in the game.
In the second half, Arsenal seemed more assured, we were keeping possession and playing our passing game. It was a tight game, with both teams implementing their own tactics. Long balls by Liverpool and quick passing by Arsenal. Off the ball however, Mikel Arteta took a shoulder on his face, I think it was accident, it happens sometimes right? He seemed out cold and had to be substituted, on came Diaby. Now, after that uncomfortable few minutes of stoppage, people expected Arsenal to be a little rattled. Only that they weren't. We kept the ball calmly. Showing mental steel and belief. I loved it. Diaby came and showed how we have missed him, running past players with ease and taking long shots. But, it was short lived as he was replaced by the Ox after 23 minutes or so. I feel for the poor guy, I hope he can be ready again as soon as possible. The game looked like it was heading for a draw. With Liverpool being the better side, but having nothing to show for it. Arsenal was keeping possession towards the end, and that seemed to frustrate Liverpool. Alex Song had the ball, he neatly chipped it over the Liverpool defense for Van Persie to volley it in. Making him the 8th highest goal scorer in Arsenal history. What a player. What a captain. And now came my memory number 3 - Van Persie kissing Song's foot. It showed how this man, who is technically so much better than his team mates, values their contribution. He makes sure they get the credit for what they do. If that's not the sign of a great captain, I don't know what is. 
Arsenal got the critical 3 points yesterday, but they showed something more important. The ability to support each other. Arsenal's previous teams did not have that. Arsenal was lucky to win yesterday, but there was something that was constantly going our way, that was team spirit, created by the players themselves. So, the world will say Arsenal did not deserve to win the game, I say they did, not for the football, but the small moments they created in between, the ones I've mentioned. Yesterday showed us how important they are. I'll leave you with that thought until midweek.
As always, keep the faith. The season is not over. But we are in a good position. Until midweek then, who knows what can happen? 


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