Unmarked and on target
Clinicality, is it a word or not? Either way it perfectly describes Liverpool’s season to a tee. Be it in front of goal or from set pieces the Anfield faithful witnessed nothing new today: woodwork, open goals, poor crosses and own goals. Just another day at Anfield.
Liverpool started brightly and should have been a goal in front after 18 minutes, but once again fluffed their lines from 12 yards and then failed to convert the rebound, Dirk Kuyt guilty of both. Undeterred though, the home side pressed on and thanks to Koscielny took the lead on 22 minutes as the hapless defender slotted the ball past his own goalkeeper.
It was one of the rare moments throughout the match that the Arsenal defenders stayed on their feet. At one point it looked as if the Anfield turf had been transported to an Army training range as Vermaelen and Sagna gave performances normally reserved for victims of sniper rifles.
Once again though, Liverpool gifted their opponents an Anfield equaliser as, rather worryingly, Robin van Persie was left unmarked to head the ball past Reina from close range.
For the next 69 minutes Liverpool fans found themselves trapped inside Groundhog Day as chance after chance went begging. Luis Suarez was unlucky not to have been rewarded with a goal, but once again a visiting goalkeeper pulled off a fantastic save to deny the home side.
Liverpool fans have been saying all season that the lack of killer instinct in front of goal has cost their team dear, and no more so than today as the reds failed to punish an Arsenal defence that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the division below.
The visitors looked scared of the ball, unwilling to take it on and take the game to their opponents; Martin Kelly was the wrong man in the right place as he failed to find the net after a sublime Dirk Kuyt cross.
Just as the locals were contemplating another home draw, Robin van Persie calmly and clinically smashed the ball past Pepe Reina for the second time to steal the points. How Liverpool fans wish they had a finisher of van Persie’s quality, as if they did this game would have been over by halftime.
Charlie Adam continued where he left off at Wembley with a disastrous performance, every inch of him looking like a player who should be in the Championship and not gracing the turf of the five-time European champions.
Stewart Downing looked busy but failed to give any real end product. Henderson, though much improved, looked too scared to shoot and not good enough to pass at times, whilst Jamie Carragher looked devoid of ideas and resorted to lumping long balls out of defence.
On a day when Liverpool should have been out of sight by the break, they fell victim to Robin van Persie’s clinicality and a lack of their own.