Liverpool 5 (Skrtel 1, 10, Sterling 16, Sturridge 20, Sterling 52) – 1 Arsenal (Arteta 69 (pen))
Man of the Match – Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Liverpool knocked the wind out of Arsenal’s sails by demolishing the table toppers on a humbling afternoon at Anfield. With the match billed as a clash between the outsiders for the title race, Liverpool crushed Arsenal in a 20 minute blitz to move with 5 points of the Gunners and 6 points of current leaders Chelsea.
With Aaron Ramsey still out, and Jack Wilshere deemed fit to play, the manager started with Wilshere, Chamberlain and Arteta in midfield alongside Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil. Thomas Vermaelen remains out of action, with Jenkinson and Gibbs making the subs again with Podolski, Gnabry, Rosicky and Bendtner.
And before even Arsenal could get the ball, Liverpool struck their first bullet. The home side won a free kick, taken by Steven Gerrard, which was poked home by Martin Skrtel from close range. Barely 55 seconds had passed on the clock. After that it was a flurry of chances for both sides. Daniel Sturridge decided to shoot but failed to really test Szczesny, before a dinked ball from Wilshere to Monreal was clumsily collected by Mignolet, spluttered out off his defender, but Monreal failed to capitalize.
Liverpool won a corner a minute later, and Gerrard and Skrtel struck again. Skrtel escaped the attentions of Koscielny to beautifully direct a header into the goal, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, manning the goal-line unable to prevent the ball from going inside. At 2-0, it looked like Arsenal would slow down the game and respond. Exactly the opposite happened.
Liverpool upped a gear. Liverpool looked ruthless. First, Phillipe Coutinho sent Daniel Sturridge through but the England striker’s effort went narrowly wide. Then Raheem Sterling outran Bacary Sagna into the penalty box, and a near dangerous pass was just about cleared by Jack Wilshere. Then, off another Steven Gerrard corner, in form maverick striker Luis Suarez smashed the ball into the post from quite some distance out quite spectacularly. The rebound fell to Kolo Toure who failed to tap home in front of an open net. It looked like the home side were taking Arsenal to the butchers with all those flurry of chances.
It didn’t matter much though. Mesut Ozil dangled on the ball too long, instead of making a pass, and was easily pushed over, and rightly not awarded a free kick. Liverpool counterattacked and Luis Suarez on the right set up Raheem Sterling who tapped home from close range. It was ‘pants’ play from Arsenal. 3-0 down in 16 minutes.
And it just got worse. Coutinho, in brilliant nick created another chance sending Sturridge clean through. He took his time and calmly slotted past Szczesny to leave Arsenal and their fans shell shocked, and Liverpool’s supporters in delirium. Liverpool threatened to run a cricket score, but to er, Arsenal’s credit, they managed to hold on to a 4-0 deficit till half time. Hopes of a Reading style comeback were fast evaporating.
The second half was a slightly different story, with Arsenal looking a but more decisive. Probably a half time rollicking had done the trick. There seemed to be more drive, and Jack Wilshere won a free kick in a dangerous position, which was completely miscued by Santi Cazorla. Raheem Sterling was still wrecking havoc though, and made it 5-0, with his first attempt being parried by Szczesny from utterly close range. No mistakes on the second chance. Yes, the scoreline read Liverpool 5 Arsenal 0. It was a shameful afternoon.
Arsenal’s first attempt, yes, first attempt on goal came on 56 minutes, when Olivier Giroud’s rather tame effort was saved by Mignolet. There were soon changes made as Giroud, Ozil and Monreal made way for Podolski, Rosicky and Gibbs respectively. A move made most probably to rescue the players from a hiding.
It should have been more goals for the home side. First, Luis Suarez’ audacious free kick was lifted over the post by Szczesny when it looked like it would just about creep in. Then, Jordan Henderson was sent clean through on the right from a cross coming in from the left, but instead of taking his time, he chipped the ball, and it ended up going wide.
Arsenal got a consolation goal, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was downed by Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool penalty area. Mikel Arteta sent the ball right down the centre. Arteta then almost saw his free kick creeping in from just outside the penalty area, but for Mignolet’s save. Liverpool weren’t done yet, and only Szczesny prevented more goals, as Coutinho and Sterling had chances.
Let’s be honest, there can be no explanation for such a performance. We were taken for the cleaners. You can sit and abuse the players and the manager, but we are in a position where the league title doesn’t look like forbidden fruit. Manchester City’s draw at Norwich City leaves us in 2nd position, one point behind Chelsea, who beat Newcastle at home 3-0, thanks to an Eden Hazard hat-trick.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourselves or the players, it is time to get behind the team, with 13 games to go in the league season. Arsenal have responded well to defeats this season. We won 8 and drew 1 game in a row after the opening day loss to Aston Villa. After the loss at Old Trafford, we won 3 and drew 1, and after the 6-3 drubbing at the Etihad, we have won 6 and drawn 2.
If nothing else, this will be a wake up call for a team that was just about getting it’s job done, against weak sides such as Cardiff, Fulham and Crystal Palace. A drubbing like this can only evoke a response. It’s nearly 3 years since Aaron Ramsey scored the winner against Manchester United, our last win against the Red Devils. It’s time to put the record straight!
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