Liverpool 3 Arsenal 6: Arsenal totally Beastly to Liverpool

Last updated : 09 January 2007 By Brian Dawes

Song - Many Gooners will eat their words
With only the Champions League to play for and an upcoming match with Barca the question posed to Benitez has to be why? Surely he had to play a first eleven who were seriously going for it, instead he pitched his reserves against 6 Arsenal teenagers which included our entire midfield, namely; Theo, Cesc, Song and Denilson.

The game started in a similar vein to the way the F A Cup tie went on Saturday in that Liverpool were on top for long spells without really creating too much in the way of killer chances.

Almunia (aged 29) was the old man of our team and did his job with ease and confidence catching loads of crosses and coming out fast whenever there was a need. At left back Traore (17) started with the jitters, couldn't find his positional sense early doors but grew in confidence as the match progressed especially when he charged forward. Djourou (19) looked the part throughout; he is one cool dude. Hoyte (22) played like a veteran, Kolo (25) was our on the pitch veteran and didn't put a foot wrong. In midfield Theo (17) on the right tried to take men on without his normal success and although he did get in the odd cross or he never really got going in this match. Cesc (19) is just world class and an artist who is playing well beyond his years, although he wasn't outstanding creatively tonight because he was doing a lot of what would have been Gilberto's work. Alexandre Song (19) put Craven Cottage into the dim and distant past as he came of age with a really solid performance, you could almost see his confidence grow and he did really well. Denilson (18) played wide left where it took him a while to get into things but he grew with the team. Up front Aliadiere (23) had his best ever match in an Arsenal shirt and either proved his worth as a squad player or added a couple of million to his transfer tag depending on your viewpoint. Julio Baptista (25) finally got the measure of the English game despite having a penalty saved.

Gonzalez was unfortunate to be stretchered off following what was an innocuous tackle he made on Walcott. There was a delay of about five minutes while he was strapped up and Garcia took his place.

So what happened next? Well it was all quite weird and wonderful. At about the same time that Rosicky scored on Saturday we did it again tonight. Kolo hit a long ball very straight and down the middle. Paletta and Hyypia were nowhere as Aliadiere ran in from the left took the ball down superbly and beat Dudek at his second attempt. 0-1 to Arsenal against the run of play.

Aurelio, who has a sweet left foot, hit a shot that Almunia palmed away to Garcia, who was maybe technically offside, his ball in to the near post was flicked with a back heel into our net by Fowler. 1-1 and you couldn't argue with the scoreline at this point because the home side had had most of the play.

Aliadiere - Best game ever?
Paletta used a stiffish arm against Baptista who went down like a sack of spuds and we had a free kick outside the box and within range. Given that Baptista and Toure had screwed one up earlier this seemed to be no big deal. However Baptista took it with the rooted Dudek a yard or so off his line. It cleared the wall whilst bending towards the post and dipping in a goal bound arc as soon as it cleared the Liverpool heads. Dudek appeared to have his feet fixed in concrete as the perfect free kick made it 1-2 to Arsenal. So that's three free kick specialists we have now.

We won a corner on our left. Cesc bent it into the danger zone, it cleared heads and a flapping Dudek at the near post, made its way to Hyypia who hardly saw it but attempted to clear. Only to see his rather naff clearance attempt bounce off Song's elbow to and into the net to make it 1-3.

Aliadiere was moving towards the right and was inside their box when Hyypia took one of his legs away with a poor challenge. No question this was a penalty and no question Baptista wanted his hat trick. So he stepped up to take it, only to see Dudek make a fine save diving to his right. Of course the keeper was a yard off his line when the ball was kicked but how often do you ever see them retaken? Especially at Anfield.

Baptista played a great ball to Aliadiere who looked maybe a shade offside despite Warnock at left back trying to play him on. Aliadiere took it on and hit a perfect cross for the advancing Baptista to poke home into the net from close range. 1-4 to Arsenal at Anfield, this was even more fun than our F A Cup game and much funnier.

Benitez didn't change things at half time, neither did Le Boss, but then again our manager didn't need to and theirs clearly did. There was a long ball out to our left that Aliadiere chased down and won, he skinned his man who had dived in so had time to look up and hit a perfect tempting low cross towards the Beast. Gerrard dived rashly in but missed the ball, Julio moved it on in the space created by Gerrard and fired a low driven shot past Dudek 1-5 to the Arsenal and the small number of travelling fans behind that very goal surely couldn't believe their luck. ‘Are you watching Tottenham' was what the travelling Gooners sang at this point mindful of our next opponents in the Carling Cup. Many congratulations to all those making the long trek north tonight, we heard the small band of happy Gooners loud and clear.

A ball was laid back to Gerrard who took it first time at about waist height but still managed to get over it and hit a perfect volley inside the far post past Almunia. A great goal brilliantly executed, 2-5 and time enough to give the home fans a glimmer of hope. There was even more hope for Liverpool as a glancing Hyypia header at the near post made it 3-5.

Not for too long though because my man-of-the-match Aliadiere chased a ball on the right, skinned a red shirt for fun along the goal line before looking up and picking out Baptista who tapped home his fourth and our sixth. 3-6 to the Arsenal.

I all honesty I thought we were pretty mediocre before the break but we took our chances and pretty well sealed the result with neat finishing before half-time. The difference was that we carved out real chances whilst Liverpool were largely hitting and hoping. In the second half we played our one touch stuff and didn't let Liverpool have the ball for reasonably long spells. Sure they came back into it a bit but we always looked in control after the break despite conceding two goals. This was a remarkable victory by some remarkable young players. Liverpool fans by and large stayed till the end and continued to valiantly support a very poor performance. At the end of the day I suppose it confirms that we have a great future, which we already knew, while Liverpool's squad would appear to be a tad thin despite all the rotations.

Word is that Liverpool last conceded six goals at home way back in 1914. In three games against Liverpool this season we have scored 12 goals. How weird is that? Arsene must be loving it.