What an amazing scoreline last night as Arsenal booked their passage to the semi-finals of the Carling Cup with a 6-3 win over Liverpool at Anfield. When you consider Liverpool had conceded just one goal in 10 games, or something similar, for us to score 9 in two games is nothing short of remarkable. I saw till Julio Baptista’s free kick and it was funny to listen to the Andy Gray and Hairy Ape Keys talking about how Rafael Benitez had taken a massive gamble playing a weakened team.
It seemed to completely pass them by that our team was even weaker and we were playing away from home. As it turned out our boys turned Liverpool over good and proper and the home side looked all at sea at the back. Jeremie Aliadiere opened the scoring before Robbie Fowler made it 1-1. Baptista scored a fantastic free kick, although Jerzy Dudek hardly covered himself in glory, to make it 2-1 and it was 3-1 at when the ball bounced off an unaware Alex Song and went in after an Arsenal corner, then Julio Baptista made it 4 just before half-time.
Baptista missed a penalty before making it 5-1, Liverpool pulled two back through Gerrard and Hyppia but the Brazilian got his fourth of the night late on to make the final score 6-3. I didn’t see enough of the game to comment on the individual performances but it seems that Aliadiere did well up front, Alex Song had his best game so far and the other youngster acquitted themselves well. Of course we have to mention Baptista. Until last night he had really struggled to make his mark in English football and for the first half an hour it looked like more of the same. I got a text from a nameless scruffy jumper wearer which said ‘Not sure Baptista is really up to it’. No sooner had I sent a text to express my regrettable agreement than he went and scored. Then he got three more. It’s obvious that reverse textology is what he has been missing since he got here.
Seriously though it was great to see him get on the scoresheet, great to see him get four goals, great that as one of the senior players in a very young side he didn’t do what many other older professionals might have done and gone half-arsed around the pitch all night long and hopefully this will give him the confidence to kick on from here and make similar, if not quite as prolific, contributions between now and the end of the season. Listening to Arsene Wenger on the BBC website he described him as ‘top class’. A few more performances like this and he’ll be pushing very hard for his deal to be made permanent, something which seemed a pretty long shot until last night!
Afterwards Arsene Wenger praised his young team, and rightly so, saying:
My players are young, talented and they work very hard in training with the experienced players. I didn’t expect us to score six before the game. I thought we had a chance to qualify but I didn’t expect so many goals. I am highly tempted to play many of them in the semi-final against Spurs. They have won in this competition at Everton and now at Liverpool, and they also won at West Brom.
Looking at it realistically as well if we’re fighting to finish as high as we can in the league, still in the Carling Cup and the FA Cup with the Champions League not long from kicking off again it makes sense to spread the games around if the youngsters can repeat the performances they’ve put in so far they’d have no reason to be scared of the old enemy.
After his excellent performance the boss revealed that he wants to keep Jeremie Aliadiere, saying:
I don’t want to sell him. I have seen signs in training that he has really made a big step forward. He is not happy because he does not play enough, but we will try to keep him.
All well and good but when everyone is fit he’s the 5th choice striker at the club and to my mind there’ll always be doubts about his ability at the highest level. Even if Wenger wants to keep him will he be happy to play Carling Cup football for the majority of his career? Personally I’m not sure sure he brings a lot to the side.
In other news Freddie Ljungberg is, according to the Mirror, ‘fuming’ that the club are willing to let him go. A ‘friend’ says:
He knows he’s not had a great season with injuries but he expected to be given time to recover. He was told in no uncertain terms he should take any offer that is on the table, otherwise he will not play again.
I would be very surprised if Arsenal acted in such a manner to a player who has given such a lot to the club over the years. With West Ham denying they’ve made a bid and a ridiculous story about Sp*rs being interested it doesn’t appear there have been any firm bids as yet so we’ll see what happens.
And that’s about it at this early stage. Arsecast recording should begin today so do get in touch if you have something to say, either via the Arsebite system or email to arsecast@[remove]arseblog.com.
Also, if you see funny things happening today on the blog just ignore them. Seriously.