We set off from Nottingham at 3pm hoping the M6 rush hour traffic wouldn’t add too much time to our journey to Liverpool. E.T.A. Liverpool, L4 was 5.30pm with a following wind and my mind started to drift towards thoughts of beer for the first time. With high cholesterol foods (sorry, kelsey) safely tucked away in carrier bags for later, we were set for an interesting and calorific night out in Liverpool.
The sign at the entrance to the chosen (and very respectable) parking spot on Anfield Road said £10, though the digits were a little scruffy. “How much is it?” we asked the chap issuing tickets. “Twelve Pounds” came the reply. Well, he has to get a small reward for standing in the pouring rain on a Wednesday night!
Safely parked in a prime spot for a fast getaway, we set off for Arkles, the away fans pub just at the back of the Anfield Road Stand. It was packed but I was lucky getting a very efficient barman who was slightly more cheery than the old trout Ant had to endure for the second round. A magnificent large screen was showing highlights from the barcodes v mancs game from the night before which I hadn’t seen, so all was good.
Suitably refreshed we made our way to our ‘restricted view’ seats and were pleasantly surprised that only the top corner was obstructed by a pillar. Seeing the goal itself at the away end is always a problem at Anfield, but, hey ho, we could have been bored at home watching it in the warm and dry on TV!
Liverpool came steaming out of the blocks as usual at Anfield. Klopp had chosen Firmino over Benteke, so the plan seemed to be very mobile with a high press (ta, GoonerB). After 10 minutes Theo was caught in possession on the edge of our box when row Z would have been the option. From a fierce shot the ball rebounded from Cech straight to Firmino, whose strike on goal went through Koscielny’s legs and gave the keeper no chance.
Almost immediately it seemed we were level. Campbell playing Rambo through who scored with a neat, near-post drive. Pandemonium ensued in the away end which hadn’t had long enough to get gloomy about going 1 down. Game on. Our big centre forward had gone down clutching the back of his coiffure in the run up to the goal. We were sure it was a cunning decoy.
Five minutes later we were behind again after some sloppy play in our own half. Firmino’s goal was very classy and thankfully we didn’t see it hitting the back of the net because of the shocking sight lines at Anfield.
Arsenal came roaring back and a lovely dinking move ended with Ramsey’s (I think) lob over Mignolet being cleared off the line for a corner. As Rambo went over to take it, I said, ‘a goal direct from this corner would be nice’. Ant was slapping my back like a crazy man a few seconds later when it looked like we had scored in exactly that way. We had no idea Giroud had scored with his toe nail until he began accepting the congratulations from his team mates.
Two each and the rest of the first half was end-to-end and very exciting to watch. The TV companies certainly got their game choices right for midweek. The moment we thought we’d scored our third was very bizarre. From the away stand it looked as though Walcott’s cross had been turned into the middle of the goal by Giroud and had hit the back of the net. Our celebrations were halted with the scousers laughing at us. We thought it must have hit the post. Only this morning have I seen that the ball cannoned off Giroud straight to Mignolet. Such a shame.
Both teams came out firing at the start of the second half, Moreno with a good chance at the far post, but we were starting to show some dominance for the first time in the match with excellent chances created for Campbell and Walcott before the much-maligned Giroud again opened his legs and showed his class. His spin and shot for our third goal were top drawer. Raptures again followed in the away end.
Could we sew the game up, keep things tight and snatch a couple more on the break? Hmm, years of watching Arsenal tend to give you the impression that, no, we’re not that kind of side. Where would the fun be in that?!
In Arsene’s post match interview that we heard in the car, he seemed disappointed we hadn’t got a fourth, though I can’t really remember us creating too much after Giroud’s goal. My memory of the last half hour is gazing at the Kop End with us barely able to keep the ball longer than two seconds and Liverpool piling on the pressure. Perspective perhaps made us think that the Liverpool attacks were closer to the Kop goal than they were, but us parking the bus never seems to work. To me it just seemed a matter of time before they equalised. Only in the last five minutes did I start to hope we might hang on and snatch all three points. Well, you know what hope did! All in all, I think they deserved their 3rd goal.
Coming out of the ground and seeing the other scores made our point even better. The spuds losing at home – how we laughed!
Cech – beaten 3 times so they had to be decent shots. I think he got his fingertips to Firmino’s curler – 7
Bellerin – excellent going forward and super play for Giroud’s second – 7
Koscielny – best defender in the League – 8
BFG – some great interceptions and blocks – 7
Monreal – has turned into a fine, athletic full back – 7
Flamini – No Coquelin but love him nonetheless – 7
Ramsey – Great goal, a little wasteful in possession but the scouse pressing caused many mistakes from us – 7
Ozil – majestic, sublime, love watching him – 8
Walcott – oh dear, an upturn in form should come soon, shouldn’t it? – 5
Giroud – did all he could to grab the points for us with little protection from the ref – 8
Campbell – another good game from Joel, such a great work ethic – 7
p.s. I realise these ratings might be a bit off, but you all had a much better view of the game than I had!
Written by chas