10 Conclusions: Exeter vs Liverpool and Udinese vs Arsenal

Arsenal players celebrate after Van Persie's goal.

-by D

 

Well, because footytube can only tell us so much about a game.

 

1) Fresh from Samir “i left for the more passionate City fans” Nasri departure and a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Liverpool, Arsenal were in an exceptionally vulnerable state. Surely a testy Champions League qualifier away from home, with 25million pounds worth of TV rights at stake, would be the last game they wanted to play in.

However, they showed a new-found mental resilience in spite of the gloomy times and inexperience within their squad (Frimpong, Ramsey and Jenkinson started the game) . Despite going down to a superb Di Natale header, the Gunners rallied and killed the game off with two well worked goals. Pretty impressive stuff and a fair bit of vindication for Wenger.

 

2) Wojciech Szczesny( i challenge anyone to get his name right without google) was bloody impressive. The absolutely stunning penalty save aside, the young Poland international was commanding throughout and made critical saves to halt a relentless Udinese side. Perhaps he’s the reason why Wenger did not acquire Shay Given or Mark Schwarzer over the summer.

 

3) Gervinho, who looks and plays like an odd mix of Adebayor and Drogba( wow imagine if those two hooked up), gave Arsenal some much needed muscle and dynamism up front. Playing primarily as a left winger, the powerful Ivory Coast international was threatening throughout as he made several dangerous forays into the heart of Udinese’s defence. One of those incursions set up a simple tap-in for Robin Van Persie that effectively killed the game off with a precious away goal.

 

4) It is really all not gloom and doom for Arsenal. Losing two of your star players cannot be good for there seems to be enough quality within their team to halt their dip in form and morale. With less than a week to go to deadline day, Arsenal fans would be having their fingers crossed for a marquee signing in the mould of Eden Hazard or Yann M’Vila to make everything seem brighter.

Having said that, all they need is a better medical team and Scott Parker really.

 

5) And because we love our Italian football as well, just how good is Antonio Di Natale. The Italian international kept Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou occupied the entire night with his clever darting runs and impressive hold-up play. Standing at a mere 5’7, he rose the highest to plant a fantastic looping header into the top corner to put Udinese back in the tie. The Udinese captain was unlucky not to add to his tally as his well struck penalty was brilliantly saved.

A quick Wikipedia search revealed that the 31-year-old has scored a whooping 112 goals in 228 games during his time and Udinese and in the 2010-2011 season, Di Natale had the best strike rate of any player in Italy, scoring 28 goals in 36 games with a strike rate of 0.78 goals per game. Oh and that’s a strike rate bettered only by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

 

6) Away from the glitz and glamour of the Champions League, Liverpool ground out a 3-1 victory over Exeter City. Fielding a strong lineup featuring Luis Suarez, Charlie Adam, Pepe Reina, Raul Meireles and Jordan Henderson, Dalgish’s charges ensured that there would not repeat of last year’s debacle, when Liverpool crashed out in the second-round on penalties at the hands of Northampton FC.

The starting line-up suggested that Liverpool will not take any competition lightly this year, especially given the lack of European football. Dalglish knows that any kind of silverware would generate a huge confidence boost to the club and suddenly, even the Carling Cup has taken on added significance.

 

7) Can Liverpool win a game without Luis Suarez? The Uruguay international was once again the creative hub of Liverpool’s attacks and caused havoc for the Exeter defence with his trickery and pace. After powering a half-volley from 10 yards out to put Liverpool ahead, the new Anfield cult hero set up Maxi Rodriguez and Andy Carroll to put the game out of sight. As delightful as it is to watch him play, it is a tad worrisome that everything seems to come through him.

 

8) Which is why Andy Carroll should step up to the plate. While Suarez was credited an assist, Carroll’s goal was very much an individual effort. Surrounded by three players at the edge of the box, the man mountain showed good footwork to shift the ball onto his left foot. Subsequently, the thundering shot, which was hit from a stationary position, rifled into the top corner. Hopefully, for Liverpool and my fantasy team, the goal will give him to confidence to open the floodgates in the league.

 

9) This was the Liverpool bench a year ago against Northampton.

Hansen, Wisdom, Robinson, Shelvey, Eccleston, Ince, Amoo

Take a look at the Liverpool bench now.

Doni, Enrique, Carroll, Kuyt, Downing, Carragher, Shelvey

And trust me, the starting line-ups are a far cry as well. Funny how a year can change things eh.

 

10) And as a customary light-hearted/lazy conclusion, the Liverpool away jersey looks pretty good. Jersey of the year perhaps?

Yes, that’s how starved Liverpool fans are for any form of glory.

 

11) Just 3 more days to game week 3 and Manchester United vs Arsenal. Just keep swimming just keep swimming….

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