Liverpool (1) Arsenal (2): Gunners Get Revenge as Reds Drop Out of FA Cup

February 17, 2014 · by Steven McMillan · FA Cup, Match Reaction

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To be honest with you, I’m ok with the result; it’s never easy to see your team get knocked out of the FA Cup, but if you gave me a choice between beating Arsenal in the league or knocking them out of the fifth round, I’ll  take the points every single time.

They say that revenge is sweet, but this helping was tempered with just as much sugar as salt. In an end to end display, the hosts were certainly second best to a Liverpool side that continued to create, but surprisingly failed to capitalize. In a lot of ways, it’s hard to see how we could have done much better; the line about needing luck to win football games is usually trotted out by managers who have only straws to grasp at, but that intangible was the only thing missing from our game today — well, that and Howard Webb was the official.

 
A pair of opportunities in the opening exchanges for Daniel Sturridge surprisingly went begging as the Reds kicked off the meeting at the Emirates in much the same way they at Anfield. A precise Steven Gerrard through ball found the striker in space, but Arsenal ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski was equal to his well struck effort. Luis Suarez was next in line to play provider for the 24-year old, dinking a ball into space for the him to run onto, and though he rounded the Polish shot stopper, he sent his shot wide of the post.

Although the Gunners failed to create much within the first ten minutes, they’d weathered the initial storm and were rewarded for their efforts not long effort when they took an unlikely lead. By this point last Saturday, they were down by a pair, but the North London side spurned their supporters to life when Gerrard blocked debutant Yaya Sanogo’s shot and it fell invitingly for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to finish low past Brad Jones.

Chances to equalize fell to Suarez, Sturridge and youngster Raheem Sterling before the break with the Uruguayan having the best opportunity of the three with an angled volley that Fabianski, at full stretch, did well to keep out. Despite having the bulk of the opportunities, Reds boss Brendan Rodgers saw his side go two goals down almost immediately after the restart when Oxlade-Chamberlain turned creator and, following a Suarez effort at the other end of the field, the youngster broke on the counter-attack along with Lukas Podolski. Quick as a flash, a neat one-two pass saw the German gobble up the 20-year olds cutback to finish past Jones.

Pictures from the Emirates

Even at two down, the response from Liverpool was superb and Suarez would test Fabianski with yet another volley before Podolski went from hero to villain when he fouled the Uruguayan from behind as he dribbled into the area. Despite being dumb-struck that Howard Webb handed a penalty to not only Liverpool, but to Luis Suarez, Gerrard made no mistake from the spot, sending the Polish ‘keeper the wrong way with his assured spot-kick. Philippe Coutinho put Sturridge through on goal yet again, but it just wasn’t to be for the England man as the Arsenal’keeper got down low to deny him with a right-footed save before order was finally restored to the universe.

After seeing his free-kick cannon off the Gunners wall, Suarez was felled in the box yet again. Another clumsy tackle, this time  by Oxlade-Chamberlain, but with a different result. While the first penalty could have been considered a bit soft, this particular one was text-book, yet all Suarez got was a waggle of the finger from Webb as play continued. As the Reds searched for the equalizer, Coutinho could only send a shot of his own straight at Fabianski while Santi Cazorla, on for the close of the match, skied an effort at the other end when presented with a glorious opportunity to seal the deal.

The prerequisite frantic finish came within inches of bearing fruit when Gerrard’s free kick drew Fabianski out of his net to try to punch the ball clear, but with Daniel Agger beating the Pole to the skippers delivery, the Danish defender spurned the perfect opportunity to draw level when his header sailed wide of the net and sent Liverpool crashing out of the cup.

Honestly, again, this is an “oh, well” situation. Did Webb screw us? He most definitely did, but this one finishes differently had Sturridge finished even one of his chances in the opening exchanges — and you know what? Any other day he would have and we’d be lining up another chance to paste Everton in the quarter-finals. Intangibles, and Howard Webb aside, we were the better team and put in a performance to be proud of.

C’est la vie.

-Steven

That was a bit hard to take, but what do you think? Blessing in disguise? Or a travesty of officiating? Let us know in the comments.

  • mk

    no mention of Skrtel’s studs up challenge on carzola that should have also been a penalty? it sems quite hypocritical to blame the ref for not giving your team a penalty while ignoring the fact that he should have given the opposition one as well?

  • http://www.paisleygates.com/ Steven

    To be quite frank, I didn’t catch that one — and that’s not a I’m a fucking Liverpool fan writing on a Liverpool blog trying to propagate some Liverpool agenda “I didn’t see it”.

    Actually didn’t see that one.

    To be even more frank, I’m more surprised reading through this a second time that I didn’t mention what should have been a second yellow card for Steven Gerrard in and about the 80th minute. Definate second booking and should have been a sending off.

    Besides that, I think I played off what was a stonewall penalty pretty well; did you think his challenge was legit or something? First penalty was pretty soft, but Howard Webb has fucking rocks for brains if he thought the Ox was in the right there…

  • mk

    ok fair enough then and no someone would have to be pretty biased to pretend the second pen shouldnt have been given.. just that the bad pen decisions did seem to even themselves out in this game unlike the general uproar in the media (and webb was terrible all game as usual).
    http://j.mp/1dXjWad for a gif of the skrtel tackle if i typed it in correctly.

  • http://www.paisleygates.com/ Steven

    Yeah, that challenge from Skrtel is a penalty alright. I knew he went in high, and it looked bad, but it didn’t look THAT bad first time around. At least it didn’t register as so…

    Anyways, Webb was absolute shit for both sides. The fact he’s going to he World Cup as England’s “Top Ref” is a disgrace. Maybe he’ll fuck up the final again…

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