What a lovely evening on Anfield that was. A 3-1 win that not even the staunchest Liverpool fan could say we didn’t deserve and the mug smasher was so unhappy at half-time he went upstairs and put on his lucky shirt. Liverpool have never lost while he wore that shirt. Until now, heh.
For the first half hour it was pretty much as you’d expect without it being too dramatic. Liverpool came at us as the home side, with Flamini and Gilberto anchoring the midfield we looked very solid without ever looking threatening. Xabi Alonso got a yellow card for a dive which Hansen and Shearer thought was a penalty but it never was. The yellow was a bit harsh but there’s no way it was a penalty.
Then on 37 minutes we took the lead. Hleb and Rosicky worked the ball down our right hand side. Helb squared it to Rosicky on the edge of the box and his first time shot flew over Dudek to make it 1-0. Beautiful, neat football in the build up and a great finish. With just one goal previously it was a bit of a surprise when he made it 2-0 just before half time. He skipped through challenges to the edge of the Liverpool box and Steven Gerrard won’t look back fondly on his pathetic attempt at a tackle which allowed the Czech to score again. So 2-0 at half time and all well with the world.
In the second there was not a lot happening, Liverpool had lots of possession but did very little with it and then, to my mind, came the moment which sparked them into life. Emmanuel Eboue kicked Luis Garcia in the back of the legs then went down in an attempt to avoid the yellow card. Given Eboue’s history it would not be unreasonable to assume there was nothing wrong with him. Then they got a corner and he sat down at the goalpost and injured or not all he did was get the Liverpool fans and players fired up. The fact that Hoyte replaced Eboue before Gary Lewin had even got around to see how injured he was speaks volumes for me.
I am seriously tired of his behaviour on the pitch. He’s a faker, a cheat, his defending is schoolboy at times and he puts his team under pressure when there’s absolutely no need for it. Honestly, I’d be quite happy to see the back of him now. Lauren can’t come back soon enough for me and if not, while I think Justin Hoyte is decent back up without ever being good enough to be a first team regular, the manager needs to take a long hard look at the right back position. I hope Eboue had strips torn off him because that’s no less than he deserved and he was the only negative from what was a great night.
So with our concentration slightly off because of Eboue’s antics Liverpool got one back when Dirk Kuyt nodded in Peter Crouch’s header from another corner. After that Liverpool, as Thierry Henry said afterwards, bombarded us for the next 15 minutes or so but at the back we were excellent, none more so than Philippe Senderos who made countless headed clearances from Liverpool’s succession of crosses. In front of him Flamini and Gilberto worked very hard as well and it wasn’t until 5 minutes from time that we made the game safe.
Thierry Henry received the ball in the centre circle, passed it down the wing, ran onto it but was beaten to it by Jamie Carragher who slipped and gave it back to the captain. He continued into the box, cut inside and beat Dudek with what was hardly his most powerful finish but it was an excellent goal nonetheless. After that there was no way back for Liverpool and holders went out in the third round.
Afterwards Arsene Wenger praised the performance while Thierry Henry was quick to praise the commitment and work rate. In his BBC interview afterwards it was good to see him credit the defence and midfield for all the hard work they put in. A word too for Tomas Rosicky. Hopefully those goals will help him push on a bit, perhaps he was affected by the CSKA Moscow miss and having one cleared off the line against Blackburn and hitting the post against Charlton might have pplaying on his mind, but this performance should fill him full of confidence.
So the draw for the fourth round takes place on Monday. Any bets on Chelsea or United away? Short odds, I’d imagine.
Now, onto the rest of the Sunday round-up. According to the News of the World Arsenal have told Freddie Ljungberg he can leave and they’re trying to move him on in this transfer window. An Arsenal ‘insider’ allegedly said:
He has been frustrated by the amount of games he has played recently but his heart and soul has always been with Arsenal. He had no idea the club was planning to force him out. He can’t believe he’s been treated like this. Freddie will be very sad to leave Arsenal but he’d like to stay in the Premiership and feels he still has plenty to offer an ambitious club.
It’s been sad to see Freddie recently. He’s been plagued with injuries and has found it very hard to get a good run in the side together and he really hasn’t looked the same player for quite some time now. It would be no surprise if the club decided to cash in on him now but we’ll wait and see what happens. The same paper says that Emmanuel Adebayor is being given a contract extension and a pay rise to see off interest from Manchester United which sounds and smells a bit whiffy to me.
Anthony Stokes has agreed a 4 year deal with Charlton. Apparently he turned down Celtic and while I wish him well I’m sorry he has to work with such a poxy cunt like Alan Pardew. However, reports this morning suggest Roy Keane’s Sunderland could gazump the London club at the 11th hour.
Not much else happening in terms of transfer news. A quick look at our on-loan players shows some mixed news. Arturo Lupoli scored a hat-trick for Derby, Seb Larsson (who looks set to make his move permanent) scored a late equaliser as 10 man Birmingham held Newcastle 2-2 but there was bad news for Nicklas Bendtner who it’s feared broke his ankle after getting it caught in the terrible pitch at St Andrews.
And that is about that. Have a good Sunday, more tomorrow.