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Arsenal vs Liverpool – It should have been a win

Arsenal and Liverpool started the game both hoping to get a win in order to catch up to Tottenham Hotspur, currently occupying the last spot that grants access to the Champions League. The Gunners were three points ahead of Liverpool and hoped to gain a 6 point advantage after playing the reds at Emirates Stadium.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, they had to start the match trailing. Just five minutes in the game a series of blunders by Sagna and Vermaelen led to a goal scored by none other than Suarez who has been a constant threat to the Gunners throughout the game. The first half was won by an unexpectedly well-organized Liverpool team led by Carragher and Reina that denied Theo Walcott and Podolski a couple of scoring opportunities. Wojciech Szczesny had a great day too, denying Henderson and Suarez several chances that could have helped the reds break away to a two goal lead. Up until the 55th minute the balance between Arsenal and Liverpool was dead-lock. It seems Wenger managed to motivate his team that looked a little disoriented during the first half, especially when it came to finishing their great build-up play.

Fifteen minutes into the second half, a quick combination with Sturridge, and some slow defending by Per Mertesacker provided Henderson with the opportunity of making his way to score an extremely lucky goal. Liverpool fans had less than five minutes to enjoy the lead because Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud perfectly played out a free kick that ended with the Frenchman’s 10th goal of the season. Although Reina had a great night, Giroud’s impeccable header was unstoppable.

Liverpool’s players seemed to be running out of breath compared to Arsenal’s youngsters. Just three minutes after Giroud’s goal, Walcott and Santi Cazorla worked together and Walcott managed to score the best goal of the match, he was assisted by the man who got the Gunners’ first goal on the board. After a few short passes Theo Walcott placed the ball in the back of the net, leaving Reina motionless. He is now Arsenal’s leading goal scorer and ranked fifth most efficient striker in the Premier League.

After an incredible 10 minutes for both sides, Liverpool started to slow down even more. Sturridge and Suarez had little or no contact at all with the ball during the next 20 minutes. Arsenal pushed the gas pedal to the floor and tried to score again but Reina did an excellent job in denying Podolski and Giroud’s fabulous attempts. The biggest chances came during the last 10 minutes when Giroud could have won the game for Arsenal but inexplicably stumbled in front of an inviting empty goal after Reina was beaten. With four minutes of extra time the reds had a few chances but Szczesny was there to protect his team.

Overall Arsenal played much better and had more chances to score. Wenger’s strategy to rest Wilshere, Walcott and Cazorla in the previous game paid off, all three players finishing the game with excellent stats. Vermaelen’s recovery seemed too good to be true and it actually was. He was not at full capacity being involved in both of Liverpool’s goals. The Gunners dominated the second half and should have won if not for Pepe Reina’s great reflexes. The result does not do any good to either team as they remain 6th and 7th in the Premiere League standings. Arsenal missed a great opportunity to overtake Everton and close in on Tottenham and Chelsea.

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