Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool: Wenger’s vent inspires Invincible-like comeback

Arshavin celebrates with his mates

Last night’s 2-1 win over Liverpool appears to be a turning point for this Arsenal team in so many ways.

It marks the first win at Anfield for six years and the first win over big four opposition this season. It was just the first time we have come from behind at half-time to win and closed the gap at the top to just six points with a game at hand.

But most importantly, it appears to be the game that Arsene Wenger awoke from his slumber and dished out the type of comments that these so often nurtured players have needed to hear for three seasons. At 1-0 down and playing exceptionally poorly, according to Cesc Fabregas, Wenger absolutely let his players have it:

“The boss screamed. He was really disappointed with us in the first half. I’ve never seen him like that before. He said we didn’t deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt and he was right because we really weren’t good, we weren’t up for it. But that gave us a boost and the second half was one of the best second halves we have played this season.”

While it’s debatable that the boys produced one of the best second halves of their season, it’s undeniable that Wenger’s tirade procured its desired effect. The way the boys turned things around at Anfield last night was reminiscent of the Invincibles fantastic comeback against Liverpool in 2003 when Robert Pires produced a superb winner.

In truth this was not a game that needs a lot of analysis. In the first-half Liverpool produced the sort of high-tempo effort that they always tend to find with at home against the big sides, while we created very little. Eventual match-winner Andrey Arshavin struggled to find space as a diminutive striker and Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott did not really help out on the wings.

Liverpool probably should have had an early penalty when William Gallas brought down Steven Gerrard and were good value for their first-half lead, yet as they have done so often this season they crumbled. Wenger’s intelligent move to switch Nasri and Walcott paid dividends as the Frenchman crossed low and the presence of the Englishman forced Glen Johnson to put through his own net.

Less than eight minutes later Arshavin popped up to score a sensational second. Once again Walcott’s presence caused the issue as he challenged for Fabregas’ cross before the enigmatic Russian pounced to flash home an amazing finish. Johnson’s defending was good but when you’re up against a player who needs as little space as Arshavin needs to punish you your defending needs to be great.

Our one-two punch knocked the stuffing out of Liverpool much in the same way that Robin van Persie’s brace did against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last season. I expected Liverpool to really go at us but Fernando Torres tired early while Yossi Benayoun had a quiet match. Meanwhile Denilson and Alex Song had Gerrard in their pocket.

Many people have said that this was not an outstanding performance but given the position we were in at half-time and the lack of our striking options, I beg to differ. Our defence – aside from a very flappy Manuel Almunia – played like lions after a difficult opening stanza with Thomas Vermaelen particularly impressing. Song was immense yet again while Armand Traore enjoyed his best game since breaking into the first team.

Given the results that preceded last night’s contest, to come away with three points is absolutely massive to our title ambitions. It has catapulted us straight back into third and assuming we win our game in hand, will lift us to within just one win of Chelsea. Given the top two’s form and the relatively generous run of fixtures over December and January anything is possible.

In a period where I really expected us to struggle without proper forwards, to get two wins from the last three games has been a major bonus. Arshavin has stood up admirably despite obvious injury concerns while the rest of the team have collectively done just enough to ensure we’ve profited from our rivals mistakes.

You can probably tell by the tone of this post just how happy I am with things at the moment. To achieve success when you don’t expect it is one of the most enjoyable things in life and in the last two games that is exactly what Arsenal have done.


Have your say on Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Liverpool by leaving a comment.



  1. For the first time I was impressed with our performance against a big 4 team, depleted the way we are it is a moral boost for the team and hope for the fans, Song was outstanding and I still feel we will miss him much in Jan, Walcot is not the same we knew years back and I think he needs to rediscover himself, Nasri play very quietly sometines that it worries but Ashavin remains the only threat we have and if used well by AW then we will terrorise many teams, I only wish we could pick up all the points on offer for December. GO GUNNERS GO!

  2. If you notice the goal we conceded, aluminium didn’t try to catch it and he just punched it aimlessly…. it is because of lack of confidence….arsene should try fabianski…..

  3. Great job done over the weekend…
    I Hope AW would have noticed the frailties and do something in January….We cannot always win these kinds of matches…Easily we could have gone down by more than 2 goals..

  4. Andrew – well done that is a very nice summing up and I think you got it spot on. I agree with everything you say. When you say Arsene ‘awoke from his slumber’ etc. Excellently put and hear hear! Thank Christ he finally gave them both barrells of truth.

    I’m afraid my confidence in Almunia is fast disappearing down the plug-hole. It’s reaching crisis point isn’t it? We desperately need a confident, strong goal keeper. They all make mistakes. Good god look at Petr Czeck now and he used to be the best in the Prem – but Almunia just looks like a bag of jelly now. What was he thinking batting that ball straight out into the mass of players? He was right behind the ball (unlike Manone’s dive when a similar thing happened) that ball should have gone high up in the air. Others here have been saying for ages that Almunia’s no good and I’ve not agreed with them but now…Arsene has got to be ruthless now, I feel, and put someone else in, immediately, Manone would be my preference but I suppose Fabianski’s higher up the pecking order. And maybe we should buy a new keeper in Jan.
    And a striker of course.

    Great result for the Gunners though – at last some good luck going our way aligned to a strong, battling, second half performance.

  5. I just cant hold my happiness about the last night win over Liverpool FC at Anafield.
    But the win has slightly put Arsenal in the title race. We need a major overhaul in our striking line and Improvement in the defence. Alumunia is doing no better, if he continues at the same form then Arsenal is likely to have more balls inside its net.

  6. That was a terrific result, to play so poorly in the first half and then come back to win two – one was sensational.

    The one serious blot on the card was that sorry apology for a keeper Almunia. Apart from his ineffective flap, that presented Kuyt with his goal, why has he suddenly started hoofing the ball up-field at every opportunity. He gives away possession almost every time. Arshavin was having enough trouble competing against Carragher without having to try to out jump him for these stupid balls from the clown in goal.

    Congratulations are due to our twelfth man at Anfield, the travelling Gooners were magnificent.

  7. @Johno – yes. The away Gooners were great. To hear them chanting ‘All you do is f-ing dive!’ at Gerrard, loud and clear at Anfield was priceless – even though it was just before they scored!

    Which reminds me also about the ‘penalty’ which we’ve heard a lot of belly aching from the ‘mugmashers’ about. I’ve just been reviewing it again in slow-mo etc. and Gerrard does the classic Rooney cheat – run in the box, poke the ball away, and go over the legs of the tackler. There’s no way he was in control of the ball – he would never have scored – wouldn’t even have got the ball back if he’d rode Gallas’ tackle – so no penalty was totally fair decision. Plus of course whose to say they would have scored from it anyway?

  8. Andrew – I am happy everything went well.

    You are such a good writer. I read all Arsenal bloggs but there is something unique in you that strikes out the message to the reader.

  9. @Andy, nice piece. Isn’t it great to be a gooner on a day like this?
    @Old Timer, spot on again. The referees are waking up to the professional dive in the box that Shrek over at Man U has mastered and Gerrard tried to pull. Gerrard never had control of the ball after he poked it through and was shaping for the dive before Gallas got there. I thought the ref had a great game although he gave a free kick for one of Gerrard’s more obvious dives that lead to the first goal. A goalkeeper in form would have dealt with the free kick though but Almunia is far from his best. I think the look on the Gaffer’s face after Almunia timidly punched the ball away means the end of him for a while.
    Let’s hope the boys gain a lot of confidence from this and go on to challenge Chelski.

  10. Yes, Arsenal are a force to reckon with, and as you reminded us yesterday what the manager had said about Chelsea losing points then we need to realise that we are in contest for the big price and we were never out in the first place.

    And yes, Wenger should always use the tirade he used to force the boys produce what we always desire to see.

  11. For a change it was nice to win against Liverpool although not a convincing one. AW must buy a goalkeeper, a tough tackling midfielder and big burly striker if to make any impact in PL final outcome. Almunia is no good,he is a walking disaster. walcott is all hype and nothing. do not have a clue how to beat a man while denilson nothing but rubbish.

  12. great to win a bad game like that in a sloppy manner,we never do it and its a mark of champions,but that doesnt mean wer strong enuf to win the league IMO.nice to hear the manager hav a go aswel….how many times hav i said they hav to play for the jersey and show some pride????a welcome wake up call from the manager
    i actually thought deni was better than usual and tried hard all game,song was his usual relentless self and almunia was his usual self…am not going to slate him because iv said for seasons now wot i think of him as our num 1,but i wil say this,to all those who criticised mannone vs west ham when hed actually made a ggod stop,ur critism of him in that instance applies far more to that ridiculous and almost cowardly display of flapping yesterday… hav to come and take man,ball and anything else in your way and the guy simply isnt brave enough and seriously lacks conviction
    if we can go on a winning run now thru xmas and take 3pts off villa along the way,and then add 1 or 2 additions up front and in cm in jan wel hav given ourselves a great chance to push for the title
    hello icehammer,hope u are wel mate,was very sad to hear of dean ashtons retirement,the guy had a great future and its a shame

  13. very happy with the 3pts,and as said earlier we have lost this season playing well so why not win not playing well? some good performances at the back and song was immense yet again,now on to burnley wednesday night and hopefully another 3pts as we have to keep the momentum,saw shrek,s dive against villa what a joke i dont know who is worse him or gerrard.good summarisation andy,and what a sumptuous strike from the little russian.

  14. In the second half,Arsenal was sucking bad! The whole team was bad and terrible.Forward,Middle,defence sucks! But in the second half we were strong and really confident.And that is the reason why Arsenal came back from 1-0 down to 2-1.I am very proud of the team.Well done Gunners!!!

  15. in my view our defense looks stronger and brave when Vito Mannone holds the glove. He has the courage to face one on one than Alumnia or Fabianski and has great reflexes which Alumnia lacks and especially from long range.Many have caught him sleeping or unable to judje the ball and scored.Given a regular chance he will improve himself and will surely avoid the silly mistakes.Arsenal should take this gamble to go for the title.

  16. Gallas was bad on the 1half.He made 2 clumsy tackles on the edge of the penalty box.Did liverpool deserved the penalty?

  17. For starters,let me say,the game last night must register as one of the bad performances displayed by Arsenal over the last few years.Though AW touts his team of mental strength many a time, i felt that we almost buckled under pressure when liverpool dominated our areas,obviously there is need to instil more of that especially to games like this…I think it was our undoing in the games against Man U and Chelsea.Secondly it’s high time we do away with Almunia,he fumbles badly,leaks in too many goals and he has been undoing the good work of his front four,he seems so clownish how can you even not even kick goal kicks straight!He seems so unsettled.
    And now to positives,first hail the Russian assassin,from the flashes of brilliance showed last term,i always thought and predicted he would be our saviour,he seems to be the only arsenal player who fancies a shot and look what he does most times when he attempts, they end up at the back of the net.Rosicky is well adept at this,though he is injured most of the times,Fabregas too,though he isn’t quite a natural.Why don’t others try shooting,i would like to see Song attempt some coz he mostly finds himself with acres of space,there is no harm in trying,hope Wenger is reading.The 4-3-3 formation is working wonders and the beautiful football that we play ought to give as a title and not anticlimaxes as has become the norm,i believe this could still be our year,the football we play deserves to be rewarded,i only hope the manager and his boys feel the same way too.

  18. Well done to our Boys, a good pression from Walcott to force Glen Johnson for an Own goal, (I actually loved his pace when he cut through that field to the median axe from the wing) and a fantastic Arshavin Goal.
    Song and the back 4 along with Cesc, Arsha, Theo really worked their socks off.Yet,Im not very convinced with Deni, I still dont understand what is his job on the pitch??? Is he an attack support or defence support?Of course he intercepted lots of balls from Lucas and Mascherano yesterday but yet I didnt see him supporting the attack.As for the defence side, he was too lazy to run back to help the guys under pressed by a very pacey Liverpool attack,I only saw him few times contributing to help for defence acting as if he was an attacking midflder or a winger, and even Nasri could run back to help and many times gets there before him.
    Beleive it or not guys, thats the Denilson i have always known, thats his consistent form and quality, and I dont really see it effective in our game.

  19. Villa is the next team to beat, i hope Arsha’s injuries weren t really so serious.BTW, Why did AW subed Theo with Diaby at a very wrong time? The time when we all knew that Liv is gonna start to attack non stop for an equaliser which is the perfect situation for a counter-attack and I think that Theo would be one of the best guy for that.

  20. Brilliant! 😉 I just thought during the first half: What can such a small striker like Arshavin effect between these three tall defenders of Liverpool??? impossible, but he told me……….. 😉

  21. @Andy, it is really great the way you captured the mood right now.

    It was a great fight back and let’s not underestimate how much luck played part. Other refs would have given the penalty and OG is always accidental. Arsha’s goal was a classic!

    Did you notice why Chelsea is currently conceding goals from set pieces? They alway have tall and strong players in the back. It had to be only one thing,Cech, right? The poor form he is in right now is costing them dearly. Also, invariably eveyone agrees that Varmaelen and Gallas are doing very well.Then, does that explain what has been our problem all along then? 13 out of 18 goals we allowed so far came from free kicks. Almunia?…hmmmm…

  22. Some brilliant comments guys. I’m so very happy at the moment and it’s great to have the positivity back.

    You’ll have noticed I glossed over the goalkeeping performance a little bit – but that was just to maintain the positive mood. I have to concede that it might be best to look for new options in there now.

  23. @ GetGunMN – Regarding Chelsea, the goals they conceded were not Cech’s fault. He looks awful in goals at the moment but they were defensive errors caused by the defenders not leaving enough space for him to charge into and clear. Chelsea haven’t been great defending set-pieces all season, let’s hope it continues.

  24. @Andy, you got to admit he had a few hawlers recently. Without disagreeing with you, even the space to charge should be communicated with his defenders, shouldn’t it? Funny, Almunia had to be given a mile and often begged to come out and charge at the ball by his defenders and wouldn’t. I hope I’m not encouraging the ‘slam Almunia’ birgade.

  25. Typically I stopped watching after the first half and whenever I do that the game always seems to turn around. I thought we were dead lucky not to concede an early penalty though, that was clear as day that foul, oh well!

    I saw the goals in the second half and I still don’t know how Arshavin did it. He turned on a sixpence! It was great to watch, I love the way he shoots, it’s like he has a bionic leg.

    To borrow a phrase from my cliche-o-meter, consistency is the key now. I just hope we can hold it together before we can reinforce the front line again.

  26. Good morning Sir i’m a 17 year old Student here in Nigeria and honestly ur blog is the bomb. I like ur fresh analysis of everygame we play little wonder i’ve got ur feed in my blog. THE QUESTION NOW REMAINS FOLLOWING OUR VICTORY OVER LIVERPOOL IF WENGER IS STILL INTERESTED IN A STRIKER? We all what he is capable of, sincerely i hope we can cash in on Chamack.

  27. Arsenal were effectively taken apart in the first half. A little luck helped keep the scoreline to 1-0. Solid goalkeeping decisions would have prevented that goal. Almunia had two choices possible options, and yet he made neither. If he judged that he would not get to the ball first, he should have stayed close to his line to give himself as much space as possible to react to a goal-bound header. Otherwise, thinking he could get there first he should have gone with power through whomever was in his way and punched the ball clear (with heighth, width, and distance, in that order). He decided to come out, but not with the pace or strength required. Instead of punching the ball with conviction or catching/parrying it, he slapped at it like a angry teenage girlfriend.

    He is too old and experienced to be making these kinds of mistakes. This is what you practice as young as 13. In training, keepers are told to come out for every cross into their box whether they will get to it or not. After time, they have a great understanding of their range which gives them confidence every time they come off the line.

    Almunia’s decision making is slow/poor. When he does come off his line, he does not do it authoritatively. The defense has no confidence in him, which makes their jobs much harder. Cech’s decline at Chelsea has had this kind of effect. Terry and company seem to be unsure of their positioning because they are unsure of Cech’s. A brilliant keeper can make a good back line great. Look at Shay Given. He’s made a bad back four look like an underperforming good back four. The only thing receding faster than Lescott’s defensive ability is his hairline.

    This midweek trip to Burnley is a bit dangerous. I, for one, am glad they started the season so positively at their home ground. That makes it hard to look past them and fall into the general malaise Arsenal sometimes has in games against lower opponents. They will play very negatively and it works well for them at Turf Moor. Arsenal has the required skill to unlock them but must finish the chances presented. Hopefully Arshavin will be healthy enough to play on short rest. Walcott must play better with the team. His speed makes him dangerous out wide but without having anyone to dominate space in the middle, he isn’t being given any space out there and this one-trick pony has been put down. He must find his touch and start liking up better. Nasri is starting to find his rhythm in this formation and is starting to attack with more verve.

    Sorry I’ve been a little long-winded tonight, but this is how I distract myself from writing a paper on Buddhist philosophical psychology.

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