Hooooooo, what a good Monday morning. A deserved 2-1 win over Liverpool even if it did come about via a gift from their captain. 3 badly needed points and overall a good performance too.
We were without Reyes and Diaby through injury and Adebayor came back up front. He missed a gilt edged chance to put us ahead when Henry raced past most of their defence, squared it back and he lashed it over the bar. He should have done better.
We took the lead after about 20 minutes when Cesc played a wonderfully weighted ball to Thierry who took it into the box and finished with aplomb into the top corer. As good as the finish was the pass was even better and it’s clear how important Cesc is to our team now.
Liverpool had a couple of chances when Crouch headed wide after being left unmarked and Luis Garcia beat the offside to volley over.
There was one scary moment first half when Kolo’s flying challenge saw him injured and the way he reacted you felt it was something really serious but thankfully he was ok. The only thing I’d say was that his tackle, while committed, was always likely to cause injury one way or the other given the fact he was a few feet off the ground before he got the ball. And he did get the ball. Perhaps sliding might be better than jumping.
Second half we started well and had some chances none more so than Thierry who went through after great work with Robert Pires but his shot went just wide. Then Liverpool equalised. Cesc was fouled in midfield but the ref gave nothing, Gerrard shot and Jens could only parry it and that thumb sucking cunt Garcia nodded the ball home to make it 1-1. Then Xabi Alonso picked up a yellow card for a foul on Cesc and a few minutes later got a second for what, to me, looked like a foul on Flamini. My mug smashing, Liverpool supporting brother insisted that Alonso slipped for the second yellow but, you know, I don’t care seeing as I’m giving him an iPod. My brother, not Alonso. He can afford plenty of iPods.
Then the winner. Gerrard had the ball and did exactly what he did for England in Euro 2004. He played it backwards not noticing the lurking Thierry Henry. This time the keeper didn’t upend him for a penalty and our captain rounded him and scored the winner. It could have been more but Robert Pires hit the post with a couple of minutes to go. Final whistle 2-1 and we deserved the three points, no question.
Overall I was happy with the performance. The subsitution of Adebayor for the ineffectual Bergkamp seemed to be made more out of sympathy than reason, Eboue impressed at right back again, Hleb worked really hard after running himself into the ground on Wednesday, Senderos had a great game at the back, Kolo showed how brave he is and Thierry Henry is a matchwinner. I loved him taking the piss out of Luis Garcia’s thumb sucking celebration. Last but not least was man of the match Cesc. We need to invent more superlatives for this kid as it was another awesome display from a teenager. You have your young strikers who make the grade every now and then but it’s so rare to see a central midfielder of his age look so composed, so calm, so skillful. He’s just brilliant. Three fantastic points. Well done, boys.
Afterwards Arsene Wenger said “We deserved to win the game overall. This team is slowly discovering its potential and I feel it is improving the belief and confidence. It was a great team performance. We played our quality passing game and it was outstanding to watch.”
Next up is Charlton at home on Saturday and we have to build on this result and keep the pressure up on Sp*rs and make life as difficult as possible for Bolton and Blackburn. After that display topping off the one against Madrid and the one against Fulham it looks like we might be finding our form at the right time.