I was too upset about the Champions League second leg at Anfield that I seriously did not feel like writing anything about the match. If you are an Arsenal fan then you are going through a very tough time. How youthful exuberance of a certain Theo Walcott can make you happy at 4.30 AM and a minute after that how the experienced wisdom of Gallas & Co and the referee can cause you a heartbreak. It was an European night of scintillating football. But at the end of 93 minutes, Arsenal hopes were dashed and a run from Theo which would have dominated back pages of newspapers for weeks and weeks together got over-run by their more experienced European campaigners’ temperament to comeback on an European Night at Anfield enthused by the Kop.
It is not strange that the ref awarded the penalty at the Kop end of Anfield. You can argue that yes, Toure had contact on Babel, but how minimal was it is another issue. You need to be lucky and also careful when you are having the advantage of scoring a goal which is taking you to the semi-final. But Toure and co. did just the opposite as Liverpool pressed hard for their 3rd. Luck was certainly not in favour of Arsenal as they were at the receiving end of two very critical decisions from the refs over two legs. But I think we should stop blaming the refs and start to look at the team and what needs to be done to stop the rot at back. Arsenal have been conceding goals from the right flank where, Sagna has been sorely missed and Toure is not a natural right back. Gallas has had some edgy moments in the last few matches and Senderos looks vulnerable sometimes.
Would Walcott have played with the same vigour over 90 minutes is a argument that can go both ways. Eboue’s use or uselessness at the right is another contentious issue. Fabregas needs a replacement for atleast 25% of the season and maybe someone from the reserve needs to be fast forwarded into the team as Denilson is not consistent in the chances that he has got. But for me the biggest problem is the inconsistency of our forwards. In Van Persie we have a player who might or might not last half the season. In Bendtner we have an over-enthusiastic player who will do a little too much to show his pedigree. In Adebayor we have a striker who will score one in five chances. Unfortunately Eduardo was looking like the answer to a lot of this problems before he got injured and how he responds post his injury is again a question mark.
Walcott comes out with this occasional sparks of brilliance underlying his status as a star in the making once in a while and for the second away European match in the running this year he shone. His run from the Arsenal box to the Liverpool box, getting around some 4 Liverpool players and pulling the ball back for Adebayor for a simple tap in is what legends are made of and I hope he continues on this vein for the rest of this season and many more seasons to come. He could be the next big star that Arsenal needs.
So what is now left for Arsenal? A lot, if you ask me. How this season is going to end will be the spark needed for the nest season, if Wenger buys new players or not. The team needs to keep the momentum going and winning all the matches from now on would be one way of reclaiming that little bit of confidence lost at Anfield. Utd is a big away match this weekend but I think they are beatable and for that matter any team is beatable, even Liverpool was the other night. But if Arsenal can play a part in keeping the title race till the end of the match, they should.