Liverpool 1 Arsenal 0

Last updated : 14 February 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Luis Garcia's goal three minutes from time was enough to give Liverpool a deserved win against Arsenal in a game that once again had Rafa Benitez cursing the form of his misfiring strikers.

The similarities between Arsene Wenger and Benitez are there for all to see.

Both men had exactly the same records after 50 games in the Premier League, both adapted quickly to the demands of the English game winning trophies in their first couple of seasons, and both at one time or another have craved that ever-elusive fox in the box.

Wenger eventually found his in the form of Thierry Henry and although he will be spending many sleepless nights hoping his talismanic compatriot will avoid the advances of Barcelona, Benitez will be losing sleep for a different reason.

His side once again had to rely on a goal from midfield as they failed to convert their utter domination over the unimpressive Gunners into a convincing win.

In fairness Robbie Fowler's sprightly performance may have given the Spaniard hope that the man they call God could well be his season's saviour.

But the returning king, making his 350th Premier League appearance, was too often the provider as the increasingly hapless Fernando Morientes squandered a hatful of chances.

The out-of-sorts Spaniard failed to connect with four golden opportunities to lift his current hoodoo. He swung wildly at a Harry Kewell cut-back half an hour in, completely failing to connect six yards out, during a heavy period of Reds pressure.

And after failing to trouble Jens Lehmann with two timid headers he capped off a woeful night missing a gilt-edged volleyed chance from six yards out minutes from time.

Despite some superb sweeping moves Benitez's boys just could not make that all-important breakthrough.

A stunning move in the opening quarter of an hour almost ended in John Arne Riise powering the Reds into a deserved lead. Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso pinged the ball from one side of the pitch to the other before the Norwegian fired a trademark left-footed piledriver inches wide.

Minutes later Philippe Senderos' attempts to foil a lively looking Fowler almost ended with an own goal. The giant Swiss defender got to Gerrard's cross first, but inadvertently headed the ball goalwards forcing a stretching save out of Lehmann.

Gerrard missed a 31st minute penalty for the Reds after Graham Poll awarded a dubious looking spot-kick following Emanuel Eboue's shoulder charge on Morientes.

Fowler was at his instinctive best six minutes into the second period, expertly darting in front of Senderos to control the ball before clipping an angled right-footed shot which Lehmann had to be at full stretch to parry away.

Not to be outdone an otherwise anonymous Henry forced an ungainly save out of Jerzy Dudek with a dipping volley form 20 yards.

Morientes completed a hat-trick of misses when he failed to even connect with a volley five yards out with the goal at his mercy.

But with the time ticking away up popped Garcia to slide the ball past a desperately unlucky Lehmann. The German keeper, who pulled off a series of fine saves, could only parry Didi Hamann's shot into the substitute's path and he showed the kind of instinct Benitez will be hoping Morietes and co can rediscover in the weeks and months to come.