The first leg at Emirates turned out to be quite a frustrating one for Arsenal as they scored first but in less than three minutes Liverpool equalised through a defensive lapse and then minutes and minutes of possession and control of proceedings did not yield the winner. This has been a season of missed opportunities like last year, where they created a lot but the finishing left a lot to be desired.
A footballing team like Arsenal will always create chances in any match (unless they play really really bad). Wenger philosophy of passing football, maintaining possession and playing in the opposition half will go waste if he cannot find a striker who can finish off these chances. Even converting one quarter of all the chances created can yield 3 points or a victory in every match the team has played so far. Such has been the creativity of Fabregas, Hleb, Walcott and even Adebayor for that matter. But when it came to finishing, Adebayor himself has left us disappointed, so has Van Persie after coming back from injury (and going back to it) and Bendtner, whose enthusiasm is understandable but finishing undefinable.
Even the midfielders who have had goal scoring opportunities, have disappointed. Take Fabregas, who on a one-on-one with the goalkeeper shoots straight at him nine out of 10 times. How many goals could he have scored this season, only he knows. Eboue has been also one of the main culprits and I think he has maybe made the goalie save one or two times maximum this season. Hleb has had lots of opporunities to shoot, but hasn’t. Flamini I would say has had the least number of opportunities to score, but he has also not taken his chances. So this is an area where the team needs to improve.
Eduardo was considered the solution for this finisher problem in the club, but unfortunately he wont be back till end of this year. We can always blame the referee for not giving us the penalty (which was as clear as water), or Bendtner for stopping Fabregas’s prod at the goal (he was off balance and did his best to get away, I think). but if we dont score from the chances that we get, then we will end up ruing our chances after every match. Adebayor missed a sitter at the end of the 90 minutes against AC Milan at the Emirates, but we made up for that at the San Siro. Anfield might not be the same.
Liverpool certainly has an advantage going into Anfield, but I would like to see how Arsenal bounce back. The Gunners can score in any ground as Rafa himself said, but its how Liverpool react after (if) Arsenal scores first that will decide the tie.
The Saturday clash against Liverpool in the League would be again an interesting watch to see who all play and who all get rested. I would love the momentum to be with Arsenal and see them win.