HERO TO ZERO IN BARELY 10 MINUTES: THE REINA SHOW.
Everyone related to the Arsenal should be grateful to Pepe Reina for the one point we came out with from today’s game. After making probably the save of the weekend just a few minutes earlier from a brilliant Rosicky shot. The Czech captain exchanged passes with RVP, danced around a few challenges in the box and let it fly. I already stood up for what I thought was a sure goal, but funny enough the net was not rattled. How on earth did that not score? On replay, Reina actually had a hand to it, raising it just over the cross bar.
A seemingly harmless Rosicky cross saw the Spaniard clearly ridiculed after vying for the ball with Marouane which the Moroccan knocked against the post. The ball then fell to Reina, who fumbled it and actually threw it into the net himself. Handing one of your rivals a goal at the death, when a win would have boosted morale at Anfield? You simply had to feel sorry for him.
On second thought though, I think it’s just a case of fate paying Pepe back in his own currency. The bald Spaniard was at the centre of the Fabregas Barcelona shirt controversy. He actually made the announcement and clearly ridiculed Arsenal and us fans.
The match in itself was quite a tensed spectacle in which two debutants for both sides saw red. First was Joe Cole who was given his marching orders on the verge of half time for a scathing challenge on Laurent Koscielny near the byline. It looked quite nasty and “committed” as the English press would describe it but the decision on what colour of card to issue was the referee’s. Ironically, the same man who was fouled for Cole’s dismissal would follow suit after handling the ball in the 90th minute. He had been booked a minute before for a bad tackle to Kuyt’s groin. It was only normal for him to get sent off after committing a somewhat deliberate handball.
We had most of the ball, with the home team prepared to wait and hit us on the counter. Bar a TV5 shot which Reina did well to parry away, our possession amounted to nothing in the first half. The second half though saw both sides trying to take the initiative. Liverpool drew first blood when Kuyt intercepted a sloppy pass from Jackie and fed Ngog. The young Frenchman rifled a shot from a difficult angle through Almunia’s near post. Anfield went mad!!! Maybe, just maybe Al could have done a bit better; TV5 also sholdn’t have given him that sort of space. Our late equalizer came courtesy of the Reina show, and in a week when rumours are rife about us signing a new keeper, Al did little to build Arsene’s confidence in him.
I need to touch on the few positives I took from this game. While there is definitely room for improvement, Koscielny did not look out place against the big boys. He looked confident and his touches were assured. The red card aside, he had a good game. Another good thing was a great game from Rosicky. Mozart, as he’s fondly called changed our approach completely and seemed to bring life into our attack.
Some negatives though, Nasri bottled up AGAIN. He’s really inconsistent and needs to step up in big games. He seemed to play with the handbrakes and was sometimes too careful to open up the Liverpool defence. A complete opposite of Rosicky! Arsha also looked disinterested in the whole show. His passes were wayward and tired. He generally looked unfit. Theo still needs to improve his crossing. Yeah, it was just one chance, but we need to make these chances count. Our bench was a funny one with no natural centre back present. What would Arsene have done had Koscly gone down under the Cole challenge? Bring on a half fit Song? Lastly, if we think Diaby is our back up for Song in the defensive midfield position, then we are not serious about winning the title.
So, by and large, our first weekend ends in a draw, a lucky one for that matter but it’s all good. You can not rate a draw at Anfield as a disaster, can you? Forget the Chelsea win and an almost certain Man United win, it’s just the beginning of the race. As the Nigerian will say, NO SHAKING!!!
From wherever you are reading, have fun.
9jabred says so!