Liverpool 1-2 Arsenal
Football? It is indeed a funny old game.
Utterly outplayed for 50 minutes, Arsenal somehow contrived to score twice and go on to boss a game they never looked like getting a grip of.
It’s undoubtedly our best result of the season, though had you told me on 49 minutes that it was going to be, I’d have probably needed sedating in order to believe it. I’d have laughed long and hard and probably called you filthy names.
In any given season, an away game at Anfield is not the kind of fixture you tend to come away with much from. It’s our first league win there since 2003. Last season, we somehow managed to score four times, leading three times, and still only drew. So a win there yesterday, whatever the state of Liverpool’s season, is a magnificent result.
As I say, you can put the turnaround in fortunes down to the fact that, in football, things can turn on a sixpence.
And they did just that yesterday. For some indiscernible reason, we just never pitched up in the first half. We looked iffy at the back. In the midfield, the season of goodwill had begun early and up front, we were invisible. To top it all off, Almunia was hesitant and had the punch of a drunk. 1-0 at half time seemed a reasonable outcome to 45 minutes of lop-sided football.
But then Glen Johnson, under pressure from Nasri’s cross, turned the ball into his own net in the 50th minute, the Arsenal choirs broke into raucous song and we never looked back. The next thing we knew, Arshavin – who else – had rifled a quite exquisite goal in to make it 2-1. The denizens of Anfield must be sick of the sight of him – five shots in two games, five goals. We, however, rather like him. More so now than ever.
Naturally, at that point, pinching myself to the point of bruising, I thought it was only a matter of time before our defence parted biblically and let someone in for a tap-in.
But it never happened. Liverpool’s challenge faded badly and we held on with relative ease.
Lord only knows what Wenger said at half time to turn the tide, but we’re told it was a ‘tirade’.
“The boss screamed. I’ve never seen him like that before,” said Fabregas afterwards. I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall, because another 45 minutes like that would have left any semblance of a title challenge in absolute tatters, to say nothing of Wenger’s bullish assertions of his team’s general chances.
As for title challenges, I’d say hold those horses. We clawed our way out of a massive hole of our own digging yesterday, but I can’t think of many people who, on the basis of what they saw, would yet back this horse to last the course. It’s way too early for that.
What we have done is hauled ourselves back from the brink of a few weeks ago, when we were 11 points in arrears. We’re now a game in hand away from being three points off the top, which at this stage of the season, and taking our injuries into account, is a more than reasonable place to be.
And as for a shot of confidence, it can’t be beaten.
How about that, eh?