Saturday, January 06, 2007

Liverpool 1-3 Arsenal (FA Cup)

Last season, all bar one of our FA Cup games were on the BBC as we went on a great run past Luton, Portsmouth, Man Utd, Birmingham, Chelsea and West Ham to win the cup in the infamous Gerrard Final. This season, all our games were on the BBC as we're out at the first hurdle!

The line up was pretty much our strongest. No surprise to see Agger replace Hyypia at the back, or Crouch preferred given Bellamy's hamstring trouble. Perhaps one unexpected mvoe was recalling Dudek in goal - but Arsenal also rotated there (UPDATE: As did Man Utd, and if it hadn't been for their injury crisis in goal I suspect Chelsea may have done so too)

I can't say I was too disappointed with the performance. We bossed most of the first half hour, only for Rosicky to score a very good goal against the run of play. Chasing the game made it harder, particularly when our defence conceded two quite sloppy goals. Some fans have blamed Dudek but I wouldn't - Reina might have saved them, but so might Dudek, I don't think we lost out there.

It was disappointing mainly because we'd dominated most of the match, albeit without creating many clear chances. Things may have been different had Alonso been given a penalty - granted he was waiting for the challenge, but that's using intelligence to try to win one, not falling over for no reason. Maybe it wasn't a penalty, on grounds he didn't have control of the ball, but given that Gilberto missed the ball by a mile and did catch Alonso's trailing leg I don't see how he could be booked.

After Kuyt's second half goal, at 2-1, we had Arsenal on the rack for the best part of 20 minutes and it really looked like if there was another goal it was to be us (not that either manager wanted a replay). Unfortunately all that changed with Henry's break away, wrapping up the victory. In cup matches, you have to press forward when you're losing, and to go out 3-1 rather than 2-1 makes no difference so that wasn't too upsetting.

What I did find strange was the fact we didn't make any attacking substitutions. Bellamy spent most of the second half warming up, but I can only conclude he wasn't fit if he wasn't used - which leaves me asking why Fowler wasn't available. And when we needed a bit of pace to stretch Arsenal, if it couldn't come from Bellamy then I'd at least have given Gonzalez a try.

Still, if we're going to go out it might as well be a) early on and b) against a big team. Anything else just adds to fixture congestion and/or embarrassment. At least we have chance for revenge on Tuesday.

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At 11:53 am, Blogger Rob Jubb said...

I'm not sure about the penalty: he'd clearly lost the ball, and was already going over like a dying swan when Gilberto actually clattered him, but Gilberto did clatter him. Other than the goal, though, for all your possession, I can't remember Almunia having to make a save.


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