Barely a minute before the final whistle, Arsenal were gifted a goal in ludicrous fashion by up-’til-then standout Pepe Reina. The keeper was responsible for maintaing 10-men Liverpool’s advantage on more than one occasion, but his terrible mistake cost them two points. It remains to be seen what effect the draw will have over time, though you can be assured that this goal will be part of “Worst Goals Ever” compilations for many years to come.
What else did we learn watching today’s match? Arsenal aren’t going to win the league this year. Fabregas wasn’t playing, and Van Persie only had a short run around at the end, but Arshavin turned in a muted performance, Chamakh wasn’t finding any space, Nasri wasn’t seeing any passing lanes, and the delivery from the wings was consistently lobbed to the far post with no pace on the passes. Plus, they’re a bunch of pansies.
The bright spot in attack was Vermaelen. Yes, Arsenal’s center back was their most potent offensive weapon, and not just throwing himself at set pieces—the man likes to attack with the ball at his feet. Eboué tried to keep the play moving forward quickly, but lacked the precision needed to execute his intent. That’s about it for threats from the Londoners.
Liverpool had their typical hard-nosedness about them, and played resolutely a man down. Ngog’s blast right at the opening of the second half gave them the lead (4 goals in 3 games for him), and they didn’t look about to relinquish until the aforementioned slip by their keeper.
Content to stifle play as a team, Mascherano and Carragher stood out simply playing their usually rough game, with plenty of jawing at opponents and the refs to stoke the fires. Then Maxi came on to add another element of aggression to a back line that also included Skertel and Agger—two men always ready to plant a foot in a chest. Torres’ addition near the end only produced a half chance, though the man is a force.
Liverpool have played a few competitive Europa qualifying games already, and were obviously more cohesive today, but can they continue under Hodgson to a trophy and a Champions League berth? I think yes.