Having not watched the game last night due to the celebration of The Management’s birthday, it’s interesting for me to see the overall context of a point at Anfield, in comparison to those I follow online or the narrative of the oft biased Liverpool-favouring media. Many Arsenal fans seemed to be virtually throwing their hands in the air in exasperation at dropping two points in injury time, but if I’d have offered a draw to all before the game, how many would have taken it?
I know I would. For I had worrying feelings in the pit of my stomach about yesterday’s game. I remember a couple of seasons ago, when we came to Anfield on a good run and at the top of the league, yet were promptly dispatched and had to deal with other crushing defeats as we fell away in the hunt for the title. We have some big away games still to come in the Premier League and a defeat in last night’s game would not have helped us.
As it was, a draw coupled with results elsewhere, has given the table an element of ‘as you were’ about it. City were profligate in front of goal, the Spuds lost and United drew the night before. The only team that has drawn closer to us after this midweek set of fixtures has been Leicester. Match of the Day spoke of the ‘incredible story’ going on, but I think it’s fair to say they rode their luck against a Spud team that will probably be wondering how they didn’t win that game. Still, given the fact we remain top we can hardly complain, can we?
Well, no, and yet, yes, because we were once again a few minutes away from a precious three points at Anfield. We have a nasty little history of conceding late goals to that lot and, given the fact we’ve scored three goals away from home, you’d think we should have been better defensively than we were. As I said above, I haven’t watched the whole game, but I have watched the highlights and quite what happened to Theo’s legs for the first goal we conceded was beyond me. Equally too, Campbell seemed to have jelly legs, as he twice lost the ball before an excellent Firmino strike (although given his assist for Ramsey’s goal, as well as the noises I heard about him having a great game, perhaps he can be let off a little). The third goal looked to be a classic aerial bombardment and we know how good Benteke is in the air.
In contrast, I thought our goals were well worked and excellently finished. Ramsey’s great movement and quick-hit finish was good for the first, Giroud’s touch was deft for the second and his third was one you’d expect to see from world class strikers only, so quite what his detractors will make of it is anybodies guess.
I know we’re all disappointed with a late goal conceded and I know we could be five clear of City today had we held on, but we have three really tough matches in which I have been telling anybody who will listen, that we need seven points from. It leaves the margins for error smaller with wins against Stoke and Chelski needed, but I suspected that would be the case come this Thursday morning anyway. In fact, I was pretty sure we’d be second on goal difference to City, so the fact we’re still three clear is great.
The players can get back to base camp in Colney with their good form in tact and only one defeat in 11 now, so we will go in to Mordor knowing that the confidence will be high, with the possibility of Alexis returning too. So there’s no need to be too down today I don’t think.
A possible negative that many seem to have picked up on yesterday was the form of The Ox, who seems to have struggled yet again, which is concerning. At a time in which Joel Campbell is flourishing and Alexis is shortly to return, you worry that his game time is going to become even more limited than it is now. There’s undoubtedly talent in him, but he’s not showing it enough to push himself to the front of the queue and with the Euros only six months away, you’d think he’d have even more of an incentive. Perhaps it’s a confidence thing, perhaps it’s a game-time thing, but something has to give with him if he’s to avoid stagnation. I hope it does because I think he can be brilliant for us. He just needs to unleash it himself.
Anyway, enough for one day, it’s time for some work.