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Soup of This Day #147: It’s Easy Not To Be Wise And Measure These Things By Your Brains

March 3, 2012

The Spion Kop, Natal
The Spion Kop, Natal, South Africa. It’s from the battle for this hill that the Kop at Anfield gets it’s name. The fight had involved a number of Lancashire regiments – Photo: Tim Giddings, 2004. Tim Giddings has no affiliation with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

The Explanation:

For tonight I’m trying something a little different. This post will be a live blog covering the Liverpool v Arsenal match from Anfield.

The Preamble:

The 2 clubs enter this League match on somewhat of a high. 4th placed Arsenal because they came from 2 down to thump 3rd placed Spurs 5-2 at the Emirates last Sunday. It was an extraordinary match that saw the 2 North London rivals playing some scintillating football across the 90 minutes and the result was a real fillip for the Gunners in the chase for a Champions League spot next term.

Shortly after the final whistle in that game Liverpool kicked off the 2012 League Cup Final against Cardiff City at Wembley Stadium. After an entertaining 2-2 following extra time the Reds notched their 1st bit of silverware for 6 years via a successful, if scrappy, penalty shoot out.

Form-wise and the Gunners surely have the edge – they were supreme against Spurs while Liverpool were workmanlike against the Championship (2nd-tier) Cardiff. Arsenal do have injury concerns, most notably question marks over talismanic captain Robin van Persie and key defender Thomas Vermaelen. Thomas Rosicky is also a doubt while Aaron Ramsay is a confirmed no-show.

7th placed Liverpool will be without centre-back Daniel Agger – The Dane cracked a rib in the League Cup final. The Reds captain, Steven Gerrard, is like his Arsenal counterpart, doubtful – He has a hamstring niggle that may have been aggravated in a mid-week International for England against Holland. His absence will be less of a burden than van Persie’s will be for the Gunners as Liverpool’s No.8 has scored just twice in 11 League appearances this season. Robin van Persie by contrast has notched 18 of Arsenal’s 53 goals across 25 League games – The Dutchman is close to being THE key man for the London club.

The Prediction:

Liverpool 2, Arsenal 1

The Game:

Note – All times local as of Perth Western Australia.

8:30pm – 15 minutes until the whistle blows and Steven Gerrard is out for Liverpool. Jay Spearing and Dirk Kuyt come in as Andy Carroll goes to the bench. Robin van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen passed fit for Arsenal so the same team that beat Spurs then. Brilliant that.

8:40pm – 5 minutes to the scheduled start and unsurprisingly neither team has been able to score yet. Look for the game to open up more when the referee whistles for kick-off. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish appears unconcerned that he may have missed an opportunity to go 10-0 up while his opponents were preoccupied with shaking hands.

8:43pm – Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart…

8:45pm – Referee Mark Halsey gets us under way as Arsenal kick off towards the Kop.

8:47pm – I should have let you know about the weather but I’m 14,633 kms away so haven’t a clue. Can tell you that it is 24.1°C here in Perth with a gentle 7km/h breeze from the south. It does sound like rain via the radio broadcast from Anfield.

8:50pm – The BBC advises that the rain is ‘sheeting down’. 2 corners for Liverpool already but for no result. Martin Kelly unable to direct a half-chance of a header – It’s enough to give you the ‘sheets’.

8:53pm – 1-handed save from Reds stopper Pepe Reina as Walcott sneaks through for a good chance. That’s showboating Pepe.

8:55pm – Early days but it’s looking tight and Liverpool surely missed a trick by waiting until kick-off to try for goal. Nil all past 10 minutes as Stewart Downing knocks it over after good work from Suarez.

8:57pm – Another Liverpool corner. Adam went for goal from the corner – He didn’t make it.

9:02pm – PENALTY – Suarez knocked down by Gunners keeper Szczesny – Kuyt to take. No card for Szczesny.

9:04pm – SAVED – Kuyt sees his attempt saved by Szczesny to the right and Henderson’s rebound cleared off the line. The subsequent corner comes to nought.

9:07pm – Stats to date show Arsenal with possession advantage, 54% to 46% but Liverpool 4 shots to 3 and 5 corners to zip.

9:08pm – GOAL – Arsenal add another shot on goal to their tally but it’s at the wrong end. Jay Spearing crosses in and Laurent Koscielny slices the clearance into his own net. Liverpool 1, Arsenal 0.

9:11pm – Suarez off the post now as the Reds surge. Szczesny good in goal again.

9:13pm – Apparently this is a joy to watch. My feed keeps dropping out so it’s not joyful here.

9:16pm – GOAL – For a change Arsenal try 1 at the right end via a Robin van Persie header and they have pulled back level. Liverpool 1, Arsenal 1.

9:18pm – The stats at 31 mins are in Liverpool’s favour bar the score – 7 shots to 5, with 62% possession to 38% and 5 corners to nil. Arsenal do have the only 2 goals of the match but have charitably put 1 of them into the wrong net. Class that.

9:24pm – Suarez brilliant in the box, forces a good save from Szczesny. The subsequent corner is blazed over the top via Martin Skrtel’s head. It was Liverpool’s 8th corner. Arsenal have had none. Look for the Gunners to score from their 1st.

9:30pm – The 4th official indicates just 2 minutes of stoppage time to be played.

9:31pm – Kuyt shoots and that had goal written all over it said the commentator. Except it wasn’t a goal. Maybe ‘goal’ was misspelled. It should have had ‘hit the woodwork’ written all over it apparently.

9:32pm – HT, Liverpool 1, Arsenal 1.

I feel compelled to provide a half-time show. Here it is then:

Thanks Weird Al.

Before we return to the game I should give some kind of summary. I wrote this before the game so hopefully it’s on the money:

Liverpool have dominated statistically but have proven to be very unlucky. They should be 5 goals clear but a sensational performance by the Arsenal keeper has kept them at bay.

Yeah.

The opposition keeper is always in excellent form against Liverpool. Always.

For the record the possession shares finished at 50% apiece for the half with Liverpool having 12 shots and 8 corners to Arsenal’s 7 shots and no corners.

9:48pm – Back under way with Liverpool kicking towards the Kop.

9:51pm – A stretcher is out for Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, the former Everton midfielder, who has gone down hard. Some serious concern around him… A possible head injury and fellow Spainard Pepe Reina has come out of Liverpool’s goal in solidarity. Concussion is the word apparently.

9:55pm – Arteta carried off to applause. He has the oxygen mask on but has shown movement and hopefully the lad is ok.

10:00pm – Arsenal lively and building while the Reds seem to be dozing a bit.

10:03pm – Vassiriki Diaby the replacement for Arteta by the way. A bit of a lull at Anfield at the moment, although the Reds have just won another corner. Which they waste. It does come back in again but Kelly’s header is saved by Szczesny, who has big arms and is very brave according to the Liverpool commentators. That’d be why young Kelly didn’t score then.

10:06pm – Thomas Vermaelen earns a yellow for himself via an ugly tackle from behind on Suarez – The 1st catch of the day for ref Halsey.

10:08pm – Kuyt ‘unlucky’ with a diving header on goal. This means he missed.

10:12pm – Liverpool starting to awake from their nap – While they slept their possession share slipped to 43% with 57% for Arsenal. 14 shots to 8 now though for the Reds and 10 corners to nil.

10:13pm – Kelly misses a sitter as Liverpool press. This was unlucky. He took his eye off the ball. Unluckily.

10:14pm – Kelly then unluckily loses track of Theo Walcott and Pepe Reina is forced into an instinctive save with his legs. Well done that man there.

10:17pm – Former Liverpool man and Israeli international Yossi Benayoun is taken off by Gunner’s supremo Arsene Wenger just as Longworth72’s iPad2 goes down. In steps Yao Gervinho for Arsenal and Longworth72’s wife with a 2nd iPad2. Capital interventions all round.

10:22pm – A bit end-to-end now with 10 minutes to go. Theo Walcott with a gilt-edged chance for the Londoners but fluffs his header.

10:24pm – Another change for Arsenal and it’s a strange 1 – The exciting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on for Diaby who was a substitute himself a scant 20 minutes ago. No sign of a Liverpool move from the bench.

10:26pm – Diaby was not quite right before the Arteta injury forced him on is the thinking about that Arsenal swap.

10:29pm – As we head down the stretch the possession chart has swung back to the Reds, 55% to 45% now. 16 shots to 12 and 12 corners to nil, both stats in Liverpool’s favour.

10:31pm – 3 minutes to go of regulation time and Kenny Dalglish shapes to bring on Craig Bellamy for the Reds. There should be a good 6 or 7 minutes of stoppage time thanks to Arteta’s injury. Stewart Downing the man to come off and he gets a good ovation.

10:34pm – Hoping that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain does nothing much because his name is a bugger to type out in a hurry. I will call him The Ox if anything happens to him. 8 minutes of stoppage time announced.

10:35pm – Not sure if it is still raining – Can hear a pitter-patter over the radio.

10:36pm – GOAL – Not rain. Tears. Robin van Persie slots home a long through ball and Arsenal may have won it at the death. Liverpool 1, Arsenal 2.

10:38pm – Andy Carroll on for Liverpool as they chase a late, late reply. I’m contractually obliged to point out that he moves well for a big man.

10:40pm – The Ox takes a pot from a distance and is just wide. Did I mention in my preamble that Robin van Persie was THE key man for Arsenal? Yep, I did. Prescient that was.

10:42pm – FT, Liverpool 1, Arsenal 2.

According to the Liverpool FC commentator this will rate as 1 of Arsene Wenger’s greatest victories. Yeah, I reckon that’s over-egging the pudding a bit but still a good win for the Gunners and another disappointing League match at Anfield this term.

Thanks for reading and good luck to Brother of Longworth72’s Everton who are kicking off against QPR in 10 minutes.

Bugger.

It’s Easy Not To Be Wise And Measure These Things By Your Brains

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