Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool: Thrills, Chills and Some Spilled Chips
It's a shame to fall behind by two goals in your own stadium. It's even more of a shame to give up that lead only to leave with a meager draw.
It was a game that featured many close chances and some suspect goalkeeping. There were questionable foul calls and one superhuman effort that resulted in one of the goals of the season.
It was a story of two halves: Liverpool controlled the first half, while Arsenal dominated the second.
With that being said, here are some observations from today's game.
Olivier Giroud Is the Reason Arsenal Drew
The Frenchman continued his hot streak against Liverpool.
In the past eight days, Olivier Giroud has scored five times. You don't get much hotter than that—unless your name is Lionel Messi, of course.
But saying Giroud is the reason Arsenal achieved a draw with Liverpool goes both ways. Not only did he score the first and assist Theo Walcott for the second, he also missed a couple sitters. There was no bigger example of that than in the 88th minute, when Giroud shanked the kind of chance perhaps only Gervinho could miss.
But let's not be bitter and instead give Giroud the credit he deserves. His goal got the team going and his assist to Walcott was simple, yet perfect. It also caused this writer to spill his chips in excitement.
Giroud is doing everything right at the moment. His passes are the correct ones, his movement is brilliant and his shots force goalkeepers to make spectacular saves. You can't ask much more of him.
First Half Butterflies
Arsenal's performance in the first half was exactly what we expect these days. The rhythm wasn't there, nor was the defensive pressure and—most importantly—Lady Luck wasn't favoring the Gunners.
The chaos that preceded the first Liverpool goal began when Bacary Sagna tripped and fell. After that moment, Arsenal's defense was basically every man for himself. There was no organization or communication. Wojciech Szczesny made one great save, but was unable to make another because the shot from Luis Suarez ricocheted off a defender past the helpless keeper.
If there was a way for Gooners to fast forward through the opening period so they don't have to suffer through it, they should know about it.
It's becoming increasingly clear Arsenal needs some time to warm up, much like an engine in cold weather.
Today was not a good day for Wojciech Szczesny in goal.
The Polish goalkeeper found himself in no-man's land several times throughout the match. Had it not been for a goal-line clearance in the first half by someone not wearing green, Liverpool would have had three goals.
By no means is this draw solely his fault, but that doesn't mean he didn't look lost at times.
Perhaps it's time to bench Szczesny. His form has regressed so much lately that it would probably be beneficial for him to sit for a game or two.
The real question is this: Is Arsene Wenger comfortable going back to Vito Mannone?
Yeah, me neither.
No Injuries? Not so Fast
Before the game, the only major Gunner name that was out with an injury was Mikel Arteta.
That changed (surprise, surprise) when Kieran Gibbs suffered a thigh injury in the first half. That meant that Andre Santos had to check into the game.
Fortunately for the fans, Santos didn't play badly at all. He looked much more comfortable playing in defense and also added a bit of an attacking threat.
And to steal a line from Anchorman, when Santos performs his signature lunge, it works 60 percent of the time, every time.
But seriously, Gibbs will be out for around three weeks, so that means Santos will have to play when Bayern Munich comes to call on February 19.
Overall, Good Performance
None of us like to see our team struggle. We keep watching just to see those times of immense spirit and fight within the team.
That's what was on display for Arsenal during the second half. It was truly a joy to see the team wanting nothing more than to control the ball and eventually score. Seeing desire is what makes us fans happy.
At least Arsenal didn't lose, right? That's what's most important.
The league table will remain relatively unchanged after this round of games. Tottenham drew, but Everton won. That means the fourth spot is no closer, yet no farther away.
There are still plenty of games left to make up a four-point gap. Keep your heads up, Gooners.
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