Arsenal opened the game as if they were going to play a holding, sterile first half and make a game of it after the break. Unfortunately for us Liverpool were at us from the off. They closed faster, tackled harder and wanted it more. They did of course occasionally hoof it forward but they also shot at goal, crossed with feeling and got stuck in in all departments. There was in fact only one area at Anfield where we outclassed the Scousers and that, unfortunately as far as the result went, was our vocal support.
'Diaby whoo oo, Diaby whoo oo, we bought him from Auxerre, he's every fecking where, Diaby whoo ooo.' 'He knocked John Terry out, he knocked John Terry out.' Now I don't overly rate Kolo and Bill in the aerial stakes and was worried about Crouch's threat in that respect but his opener, inside four minutes, came from a low cross that saw him get ahead of our central pairing to slide home from point blank range. Arbeloa and Pennent played one-twos down our left flank before the Spaniard crossed with a great low ball. Arsenal's defence were nowhere to be seen. Our full backs did ok for their first outings back from injury except that they both failed totally in preventing the crosses that caused us grief. Which is really the point of full backs as I understand it.
Crouch had a great scissors kick well saved by our captain for the day Lehmann. Apart from taking a few high crosses Lehmann left his mark on the game by getting booked after the half time whistle for arguing with referee Steve Bennett. What prats, Bennett and Lehmann as it happens. Diaby was alone in getting stuck in before the break, but I could not figure out why he was left out wide as he was the only midfield player before half time who was matching the Reds' cut and thrust. Abou clearly has what it takes, but not out wide, surely central midfield is his position. Cesc looks like he's sleepwalking now but I'm not going to knock him because at his tender years he has been vastly over-played. Although he showed some nice touches Denilson made little or no impact. And unfortunately neither of them plugged the gaps that Gilberto would have spotted.
We got a number of bad calls during the game, not least of which was having Hleb remain on the field for the full 90 minutes. When he's good he's great but when he is tackling like a wet flannel and not doing the opposition any damage I don't see the point of keeping him on. Sure he had one fine shot, but it was with just a few minutes remaining when the game was dead and buried. Up front Adebayor worked his rocks off both on and off the ball without any luck and hardly any support from his alleged strike partner.
Fairly early on there was an Arsenal fan near me ejected for standing up. Stupid really because he was repeatedly warned. But how hypocritical was that given that on my last visit to Anfield the entire Liverpool crowd stood unmolested by stewards or police for a full six minutes.
Meanwhile back at the game we got back into it only to see Adebayor head over before Diaby was booked for a foul on Gerrard. It was a good contest at this stage. Gonzalez hit a great cross that Gallas squeezed past our own post. Then Pool hit a decent corner, which Carragher headed over despite being left totally unmarked. 'We forgot that you were here' was the response to some mild excitement among the home fans. Crouch then hit a great shot the wrong side of the far post, but right side for us that is.
Eboue was taken out off the ball but no card appeared. Gerrard with a cross past the far post. At which point we should have equalised when Adebayor set up the misnamed Beast who tamely sliced his shot. Is it a confidence thing or is it as I suspect that he's just unable to perform to the best of his ability at the pace required in the Premiership? An iffy free kick won by Pool saw Gonzalez hit the perfect cross for Crouch to head home to make it two-nil. Why do we concede goals at free kicks? A lot of teams are weak in the air but manage to do enough to put off the guy who is about to head the ball. Some specialist coaching from Keown surely wouldn't go amiss, we're far too gentlemanly as defenders in my opinion.
Have you noticed how players who have their shirts hanging out usually reckon themselves? Well we had eight players with their shirts hanging outside their shorts but looking the part doesn't cut it, you have to actually do the biz. Liverpool didn't really look two goals better than us but they had at least shot at goal and they had wanted it more. Far more in fact.
No dramatic changes at half-time which was absolutely no surprise and we did look up for it for a while after the break but when Adebayor crashed one against the inside of the post and it came out you just knew it wasn't our day. The big man continued to run his sox off up front but was let down by the lack of support. Fabregas got booked for a foul on Alonso. Gerrard might have scored. The travelling Gooners called for Rosicky as Liverpool continued to cross almost at will. Our fullbacks failed to prevent the crosses but our midfield didn't exactly provide anything like effective cover in front of them. You almost expected the players in yellow to pack their cases and go off to the beach early. Quite how they will survive till May is beyond me. Poor dears, it must be tough earning all that money and having to actually do something to earn it when you've clearly lost interest.
Gonzalez went down like a sack of spuds and then Pennant did likewise on the other wing. The free kick whipped into our box found Agger who headed home. Toure and Gallas are not good in the air and with Gilberto missing our best defenders from crosses were Adebayor and Eboue. But they couldn't mark everyone. 3-0 and someone near me said they were leaving when Liverpool scored their 4th. Not if, but when Liverpool scored their 4th, and you could see it coming. 'Three-nil, and you still don't sing' 'We only sing when we're losing, sing when we're losing'.
A fine corner by Cesc saw Adebayor miss with a header before Baptista at last did something worthwhile when he provided Adebayor with a chance. It was a good shot but Reina tipped it onto the post and the ball went away. Adebayor shrugged his shoulders to the fans behind the goal as if to say it wasn't our day. But we all knew that already though. Baptista had a tame shot saved. Hleb at long last had a shot, but it was wide. Freddie replaced the tiring Diaby and the ineffective Baptista was replaced by Rosicky with twenty-five minutes left to play. Baptista's first touch reminded me of the mighty Lee Chapman. Subbing with 25 minutes left to play amounts to panic measures by Le Boss because subs come on, as you well know, with twenty minutes left to play at all times, no matter what.
Meanwhile the travelling Gooners amused themselves because the team were no fun at all to watch. 'Stand up if you've got a job' 'Does the social know you're here?' 'We pay your benefits'. The Yellows then won a couple of corners and from one of them we sneaked a goal off what may well have been Gallas' private parts. 'Easy, easy' '4-3 we're gonna win 4-3' quickly changed to '6-3 we're gonna win 6-3' If anyone actually believed that I'd like to know how they escaped from their funny farm, but it was chanted ironically. 'Anfield library, Anfield library' had more truth about it.
Crouch made it 4-1 and bagged his first Liverpool hatrick, which is funny only because I believe he left Tottenham on a free transfer, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Riise came on and forced a fine save from Lehmann and Hoyte came on for Eboue. I'd lost interest long before this though, as had pretty well all the away section. Some of the team put themselves out and applauded the away fans from the half way line, which was in the main was about as much effort as they'd put in all game. We deserved better from them. Adebayor worked his rocks off, the rest didn't and they need a bloody good kick up the arse.
Whatever happened to Flamini, is he out of favour or is he off?