Arsenal v Liverpool preview: where winning could be losing

Arsenal v Liverpool preview: where winning could be losing

Fabianski at the final whistleThere’s a lot to get through today with the league game against Liverpool tonight and some final thoughts on the FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea from the weekend.

It was my Dad’s funeral yesterday (which was wonderful, by the way) so I didn’t get the opportunity to post about the 2-1 defeat. Like everyone else, I was mystified with the manager’s decision not to start Andrey Arshavin and very disappointed with the efforts of Lukasz Fabianski in goals. Before the Wigan game I pondered whether Fabianski was ready for this difficult period and since then he delivered one adequate performance and two very poor ones. With Manuel Almunia expected to return against Middlesbrough on Sunday, the Polish goalkeeper effectively has one more chance to show what he’s got tonight at Liverpool.

The general feeling I felt during and after the Chelsea game was disappointment at what could have been. The strange team selection aside, I still felt we had enough quality on the pitch to cause them more trouble than we did, and the whole thing reminded me of that FA Cup semi-final during our Invincibles year where we surrendered so meekly to Manchester United. None of our big players stood up and hardly anyone – apart from maybe Robin van Persie and Kieran Gibbs – seemed to be putting in the effort. Abou Diaby and Denilson gave the ball away on the edge of our area all too often and the overall performance of our team was pretty miserable.

Alas, it will be Chelsea and not us who play Everton in the final and there’s nothing we can do about it now. So I suggest we look forward, to the Liverpool game tonight and the Champions League tie against Manchester United, and try and forget about what could have been.

Tonight’s game against Liverpool is particularly interesting for the unique reason that it benefit us to lose. We’ve opened up a big enough gap on Aston Villa now that it doesn’t really matter if we drop a few points and it may be in our best interests in the Champions League to ensure Liverpool remain right on United’s tail in the league, preventing them from resting players in the lead-up to the first leg. However, I highly Arsene Wenger and our team would try to lose on purpose with the need to regain our momentum a high priority.

The good news going into this one is that Bacary Sagna will return from illness, but the bad news is that Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Adebayor have joined our rather ridiculous injury list. Reports indicate that van Persie has had a minor recurrence of his previous groin injury while Adebayor will be left out merely as precaution to deal with some tightness in his hamstring. The injuries to the side mean that Nicklas Bendtner is likely to start, while Alex Song, Samir Nasri are all likely to come in after being rested on Saturday.

I really have no idea how tonight will go. While a win would give us a confidence boost and a loss would keep United on their toes, a draw is worth absolutely nothing. We’ll have to wait and see how things go.

Come on Arsenal! (I think)

Have your say on the Liverpool or Chelsea games by leaving a comment.

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45 Responses to “Arsenal v Liverpool preview: where winning could be losing”

  1. enemyairships
    April 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm #

    I’ve got doubts about tonight’s game. We’ve both won our last five league matches but our schedule has been pretty busy over the last week, whereas Liverpool have had longer to mope around after their champions league defeat.

    Those two knew injuries are ridiculous. How hard are the fates trying to make our season?! RvP was the difference for us on our own ground in the reverse fixture, his bit of magic was the only thing that got us on the scoresheet – something Nikky B just isn’t capable of. Eduardo on the other hand…

    I wonder if Song, Arshavin and Nasri will be benched for this one, it’s a much less important game after all :fume:

  2. Dally
    April 21, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    @SF I am glad the funeral went well yesterday and your father was happilly laid to rest.

    On to football matters I for one will watch the game tonight and will certainly be cheering Arsenal on, I realise your thoughts on this but I believe that winning in the league is more important for us, also if we qualify 3rd then we don’t have to go through the playoffs or so I believe.
    The game is on Turkish Digiturk tonight and with the original commentry rather than a Turkish one.
    Hopefully we will have our defenders back by the CL semi’s apart from Gallas and maybe Clichy who look to be out for the season. I don’t want to go over old ground as the semi was discussed in length on the blog yesterday, but I for one was astonished that Arshavin didn’t get a start.

  3. Chwaki
    April 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    I’m happy seeing how strong u r SF. unlike u I want us 2 draw. I would hate 2 c man u win yet another title and 4 the sake of our top 4 status, may we draw!
    stay strong SF!

  4. mgeiks
    April 21, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    A quick AA being benched in the FA semis. We all know that Guus manages AA at internation level, and surely knows him pretty well. AW decision to bench AA was probably to disturb Guus’ defensive gameplan, as AA would have been a serious threat. I think the tactic worked pretty well, just some lacklustre performances from a few lads, no names mentioned.
    Onto Man U. I’m not phased at all by this encounter. Ferguson does not have answers to our style of play, we mostly outplay Man U [ignoring the 3-0 defeat]. So if we stick to total football, we’ll definitely make the finals
    Oh, a quick note: Did any1 see the Milan game this past weekend? OMW, pleasing to the eye

  5. Luxinbrasil
    April 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm #

    I think the win is important to us as we need to keeppressure on Chelsea and even Liverpool ourselves….Fourth place may be secure but its still means a more difficult qualifying route for the CL than 3rd or 2nd (or winning the bloody thing this year!)
    Although id hate to see Utd win another title i can only see us playing our strongest team and pushing for an automatic CL spot.

  6. Evo in Oz
    April 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    looking forward to the game at 5am, setting the alarm and getting and making an iced coffee for the kick off!

  7. Luxinbrasil
    April 21, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    I like the timing here…..4pm for the game….its a bank holiday here in Brazil too so it means i get to eat a fine lunch, drink beer and then sit and watch the footie!! bring it on!

  8. Hans
    April 21, 2009 at 8:29 pm #

    What the hell is he doing in about midfield tackling drogba who had 2 defenders hanging on his lips… this keeper is about 3rd league… how did he end up at Arsenal?

  9. Fatboy
    April 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    Firstly, glad to hear all went well yesterday mate. It’s important to draw a line after losing someone close, and a funeral that goes well does this. Stay strong my friend.

    Fair summing up of Saturday, SF. It was a poor game on a terrible pitch against average opponents. I’ve no idea why AA didn’t play from the start. Against a team that’s shipped 7 goals in their previous 2 games, and whose keeper is suffering a crisis of confidence with anything coming at him in the air, it seems ludicrous that we didn’t play 2 established wide men. We should’ve been firing the ball in high at every opportunity, with Ade and RvP putting Cech under as much pressure as possible. Instead the manager bottled it and tried to counter their midfield with Diaby, Denilson and Fab (who was utterly anonymous all game). As you say, a case of what might have been.

    Onto tonight’s game. This is a really diffucult one. We would be much better off losing with a second string team in my opinion. We need every advantage we can get against Man U in the CL, so it’s vital that Liverpool keep the pressure on them in the league. We need the Utd players to be as knackered as possible when we play them, and for our players to be fresh. In the grand scheme of things, if we lose 10-0 tonight with a team of kids it won’t make a bling bit of difference. To lose with a second string will not affect the team’s confidence. If we play a full strength (injuries permitting) team and we lose we really risk affecting morale, and with our current habit of picking up injuries virtually every game there’s a risk we’ll lose someone important befor the Man U game next week. The CL is all we ahve left now, so we nned to direct all resources towards that. Aston Villa are far enough off now, and we should be able to keep ourselves a safe distance away from them against M’boro at the weekend. Sometimes you can lose a battle but still win the war. Tonight’s battle is one we can afford to lose.

  10. jebo75
    April 21, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    guys….who cares about the premier league. and why are fighting fior in there…..i don’t get it??? does that mean we are still in doubt of fourth place???/…..”arsene knows!!”…think twice>.before saying this

  11. KissMyIrish*ss
    April 21, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    to jebo75 fourth is ours but u want to push every game nad i belive we can go 3rd or even 2nd wich would be ideal means less fuckin about playin cl qualifing matches early next season

  12. C-Bass
    April 21, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    The point of the game is to win.

  13. blurguy
    April 21, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Diaby is a a lazy injury prone player. He doesn’t have the pace as winger and he certainly don’t have the workrate as center midfield. Seriously lack of determination to win and casual defending. AW, please sell/loan him out. Without Song & AA, gunner seem lack determination to win games.

  14. TheSKAGooner
    April 21, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    The Chelsea loss was tough. Tough to watch, and a tough match for the lads to lose.

    However, I am heartened to see the reaction of the team. Theo really seems to have stepped up & has interviewed at the importance of pressing on fully til the end of the season in the Premiership as well as continuing the challenge in CL. Even RVP has interviewed at putting Chelsea in the rear view mirror and going forward to end the season strongly. I’m encouraged by this, and I don’t think it’s all fluffy words from the team. There IS still work to do, and there ARE reasons to press on.

    Regarding tonight’s match…well, I am not sure what to expect. ‘Pool are without Stevie G, so good there. But they do have some serious firepower we’ll need to deal with, and surely AW must know that, again, attacking is our best defense. Regardless of the score, I expect Shava, Nasri, Dudu, Bendtner and Theo to put in a performance.

    With the season winding down, it’s inevitable that we’re all going to want to look back for a bit…whether that be at chances lost or positives to take from the team. For me, the single thing that sticks out right now is just how far this team have come while playing with what can only best be described as a “patchwork” lineup at best. We’ve never gotten our rhythm this season. We’ve always been short a player here or there…or players, as the case is now. There’s been little opportunity to develop that cohesiveness that trophy winning sides always have. Now, that’s not to say we won’t win the CL and bring silverware this year, but that would just add to the rather remarkable strength of character we’ve shown. Is it frustrating? Absolutely. But why focus on the frustration when it’s much more productive to simply take stock of what we’ve done and relish in the performances of the lads on the pitch. We’re still fighting for 3rd place in the BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD, and we’re doing it with a team held together by bailing wire and prayers. No small task, that.

    I say…UP GUNNERS…and lets steamroll through the remaining games!

  15. butterfingers
    April 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    the pool have a lot more to play for than us so they will try and get another 4-0 win against us but if our defence (whats left of it) can break with players like walcott, nasri and arsharvin we will be lethal and hopefully dudu will play and get some match fitness for the cl as we have all seen how good he is but hope he’s like rvp injured then comes back awesome. Also would love to see vela play with dudu if thats the case as when those 2 played together I saw some lovley 1-2’s together.
    @ronaldo 7 on the last post the likes of vidic, rio, scholes, tevez and berba are hardly kids or even reserve players.

  16. tina ochola
    April 21, 2009 at 10:41 pm #

    2nites game sounds rather scary considering fools have rested for so long,nway our loss in the FA may be a blessing in disguise,we hope 4 the best and no more losing.

  17. Darragh
    April 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm #

    SF forgot to mention that I was sorry to hear about your father.

    Looking forward to the Liverpool – you are right, it actually benefits us to lose..in some ways. However, I’d hate to see Arsenal come out and let another team beat them.

  18. jay-jay
    April 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm #

    Im not sure how tonight will go. I would love an arsenal win, to prove we are still dangerous even when key players are out, They have Gerrard out which will boost our confidence. If we win, we get to capitalise on Villa’s draw with West Ham to open the gap even further but also means a win for united tomorrow would see them creep out in front with 2 games in hand. I would like to see liverpool keep United in their sights so United dont rest key players but I would like to see Arsenal lose, specially because I have a lot of friends who are lfc fans and i cant stand all that bragging, its ok for me to them but when 14 people are all saying it to you, it gets annoying. Well im hoping for an arsenal win, but if we lose i wont take it so bad, would be nice to get to the end of the season still unbeaten in the league, so we carry it on for a bit longer.

  19. jay-jay
    April 21, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    I meat ‘ creep out in front with 1 game in hand ‘ and ‘ but I would like to see Liverpool lose ‘

  20. Kin
    April 21, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    I dunno why you guys are talking about losing(throwing) the game.Wasn`t it just a few weeks ago that Aston Villa was been criticised for “throwing” their Uefa Cup match to stay in the champ league places?!Doesn`t losing a/the match carry a danger of messing up the team`s momentum?!Didn`t we come seriously unstuck last season,after losing the United fa cup match(in which we played a 2nd string team).We are already all righting off Aston Villa and sayin 4th is assured,it was`nt so long ago that the pundits were saying the very same thing about us!Success begets success,i say lets go out there and thrash everybody…starting with Liverpuke!Who says we cant make 3rd or even 2nd anyway??

  21. Kin
    April 22, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    And who/what is to say that ManU wont draw or lose to Portsmouth tomorrow?I dont want ManU winning the league again,but i definitely don`t want my team losing a match either!

  22. Dally
    April 22, 2009 at 12:13 am #

    Anyway having the pool win the league after all those years would be shameful. Just think what they will be like next season with the confidence of a league win under their belt. As Jay-Jay says all that smugness from pool fans who have been hiding away for years, not worth thinking about. I am not saying I want manure to win it but at least we are used to there p**s take.

  23. Filipino Dan
    April 22, 2009 at 12:40 am #

    We must always do everything to win each and every game.

  24. Dan
    April 22, 2009 at 12:43 am #

    there is no point in trying to be polite, Liverpool is going to maul us. i am not sure but this injury list is worrying. what is with Arsenal players getting injured all the time. is it that our players lack stamina or what? its not like other players in other teams get injured all so very often like our players.

  25. Gibbs
    April 22, 2009 at 4:05 am #

    I dont expect us to win tonight, ill be happy with a draw. Wenger must not play our strongest team. Our players are dropping like flies atm, we cant afford to lose more players to injuries.

    Fabianski
    Sagna,Tweety,Toure,Gibbs
    Eboue,Cesc,Song,Arshavin
    Bendy,Eduardo

    Thats a decent team. We might actually win with it.

  26. gunnerkyv
    April 22, 2009 at 4:46 am #

    maybe AW is a super optimistic guy? optimistic enuf to think that we can win the league. maybe thats why he fielded a significantly weaken side for the FA semi. haha. let hope man utd, chelsea and liverpool lose all their remaining games and we win ours. (“,) enjoy the game later.

  27. Spanish Fry
    April 22, 2009 at 5:57 am #

    Hey, a 1-0 lead. Let’s hope we can keep it 🙂

  28. GUNNA SHAH
    April 22, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    so far so good,nasri is having a good game,fabianski´s right on que,song`s solid.1-0 at half time,hope we add another.

  29. Mark
    April 22, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    AWEFULL.

    SANGNE, BENTNER AND SONG ARE ALL HORRENDOUS.

    They have no idea and Wenger needs to go as the team dont play for him and his buying is BAD.

  30. jay-jay
    April 22, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    4-4. what a 2nd half. 1ST HALF OK. Arshavin you beauty – 4 goals at anfield. I did think we had won but overall i am not bothered, when you see those line ups and we draw 4-4, im a happy bunny. Just want United to lose.

  31. GUNNA SHAH
    April 22, 2009 at 7:11 am #

    what can i say^,asked for another, and got a mouthful,great game nontheless,one for the books.arshavin what a player.and mark what you mean song was awfull? and sanyga just returned from a virus infection,were you watching the same match as i was?

  32. Gibbs
    April 22, 2009 at 7:32 am #

    I cant believe our defense let Arshavin down like that. I truely disgusted at our defenders.

    Anyway, the future looks bright with Arshavin on our side. What a guy, unbelievable.

  33. georgetown gooner
    April 22, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    the fact arshavin scored 4 goals tonite proves wenger messed up big time leaving him out on saturday but yet again same old arsenal couldnt see the game out 4-3 up in injury time but couldnt win the game,would have settled for a point before the game but it should have been 3.

  34. Spanish Fry
    April 22, 2009 at 8:19 am #

    Argh! What a mental game! So much to think about. We probably didn’t even deserve one point but really should have got 3. Very strange and crazy match. Arshavin sensational.

  35. enemyairships
    April 22, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    Oh man, I’m not complaining, I put money on a 4-4 scoreline at 500-1 odds 😀

    Arshavin was incredible. He is everything Hleb would never have grown into as a player. I’m salivating at the prospect of seeing him in action for a full season next year, he could even have a ‘Ronaldo’ season.

  36. Spanish Fry
    April 22, 2009 at 8:58 am #

    You actually put money on it? Are you serious? How much you crazy nutter?!

  37. enemyairships
    April 22, 2009 at 9:04 am #

    Only a pound, but it’s better than a kick in the teeth! Arsenal V Liverpool are always 1-1 draws or absolute goal fests. When we were 4-3 up I was laughing!

  38. radadsRSA
    April 22, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Feel sorry abt ur dad SF,all my respect to him, may he rest in peace with Jesus.
    One of the best game ive ever seen so far this year tonite,and also @ Anfield, what a game!!! Arsha is really getting on the PL game from now, He was just fantastic.A draw is really a fair result for us and Liv.From now on we will start to see the real Arshavin, and all of his 4 goals were all a wonderfull ones.I didnt expect that game to end up like that, really.Song and Arshavin was Aw’s biggest mistake last saturday agst Chelsea,Song now has become one of my best player at Arsenal.The chelsea game wud have never been the same if Song and Arhavin has been played on the startin line up.Anyway, doesnt matter anymore, we ve lost.
    Im very worried abt our 4 full back, especially Sillly, as well as Sagna tonite lacked a bit of concentration, but still a gud game for him thou.All Liv’s 3 goals were totaly caused by the back4 poor defensiv quality, Franckly, i really miss Gallas.Why couldnt we play this line up last saturday??? with Ade up front????/We will see whts gonna happen with manu now, but we cant afford to have our defenders performing like those agst Manu.Lots of hope in me that we will crash them agst rooney.s statements last week sayin that he is relaxed coz he is facing Arsenal on the semi final, lets see!!!! Ok guys, Bye for now, What a wonderfull game I watched tonite??? Big praise for Arshavin, he has really proved himself to le boos tonite.

  39. Ronaldo7
    April 22, 2009 at 11:28 am #

    what a game..i was cheering arsenal to no end lol.

    Arshavin is pure quality but you will miss him in the CL. You need Ade to really step up.

    Defence from both teams was of extreme poor quality.

  40. Mexican Gunner
    April 22, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Glad to see that Fabianski revinidicate himself after his last disastrous game.

    Song is screaming so loud at Arsene´s face to dont buy a DM in the summer.

    What a shame that we could have AR-SH-AV-IN in the Champions.

    And Im the only one who thinks that Nasri was AMAZING today??

  41. Mexican Gunner
    April 22, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    By the way playing with Bendtner as the only striker is playing WITHOUT strikers.

  42. gunnerkyv
    April 22, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    what can I say.. an incredible match. nv doubted arshavin’s quality once. it felt more like 2 points lost rather than a 1 point gain though. could see the same feeling fabregas had after the reaction from his face when he was walking off the pitch with nasri when the final whistle was blown. we certainly missed gallas and clichy a great deal. could have won the match if we had a full strength defence.

  43. TheSKAGooner
    April 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm #

    After watching a replay I think Fabianski deserves some special credit for the first half he had. We could have been down 3 or 4 – nil. And yes, it was that bad for us. Of the 4 he let in, I will only fault him on one. He shouldn’t be hanging his head after this match at all.

    But…

    We have this guy named Arshavin, you see. And he has this ability to be exactly where he’s supposed to be to create and realize opportunities. And he throws everything he has into the match.

    Case in point was his thunderous run on the left side when Theo had broken free centrally. Watch the video…for half of Theo’s run, which was great in itself, Shava’s not even in the picture. Then, all of a sudden there’s some crazy streak of yellow and blue out of nowhere and Theo plays perfectly to Arshavin. And for the FOURTH time in the match, Shava made Pepe Reina cry like a little school girl.

    With the side we fielded, 6 regular starters missing, I’ll gladly take the point at Anfield. I know the defense are trying, but we’re just not up to it with the guys out. And I know some feel perhaps a bit cheated that we let in the late goal to tie, and that’s not at all off the mark. But think how you’d feel if Shava’s 4th goal had been the game tier instead and we “stole” the point from Liverpool. You’d be really pumped to have taken the tie from ‘Pool. So, lets try not to be TOO hard on the lads. I don’t think any of them left anything on the pitch by the end.

    I think we can still take some positives from the match, and the tie continues our unbeaten streak in the League to 19 matches. Now on to ‘Boro on Sunday and then United in the CL. Still more work to do and more to play for!

  44. Ramesh Thapa
    April 22, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    Arsenal u have done a great job with Liverpool at Anfield. Good luck for rest of ur matches. kind regards

  45. kingsley
    April 24, 2009 at 2:06 am #

    my own comment on our is that they should keep up their gud work (up gnners 4 life)asene is a gud manager but one i think the manager should do is take every serios and avoid benching key players which could be dangerous, on like satdays gaame against chelsea which he sidelined key players like ashavin,samir nasri and alex song.and we hav to work veryhard on our defence and take everty game as it comes as for ashavin thumbs up and keep it up.

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