I’d like to say I was never worried before last night’s game, but I knew that Arsenal represented a massive challenge for Liverpool. They have some exceptional talent, none more so than was witnessed when Theo Walcott tore through our partial defence to set up Arsenal’s equaliser.
When that goal went in, I thought we were out. 5 minutes left – surely we couldn’t pull it out of the bag for the millionth time in our great club’s history?
How wrong I was.
Ryan Babel looked like a fish out of water when he first arrived at Anfield, but now he looks like one of the reds most promising stars.
He was fouled for a penalty. Irrespective of last week’s decision, which should have gone Arsenal’s way, the fact remains that in 180 minutes of football Arsenal never really produced enough to make their supposed technical advantage tell.
On the night, Liverpool were the far better side, and for the first half at the Emirates Liverpool were too.
I thought Gerrard was going to miss, I really did. For some reason all I could think about as he stepped up was his bad spell a few years back from the spot. However, he did me, and all of us proud by smashing one home. His celebration said it all. He later said that it was one of his worst performances in a Liverpool shirt. I’m not sure if this was the truth, or a reminder to Benitez that he doesn’t like playing left wing in a 4-4-2 formation.
Either way, when Babel was brought on and Liverpool returned to their recent successful 4-4-1-1 formation, things improved.
Babel deserved to score Liverpool’s fourth. At the start of the season I doubt very much he would have had the confidence, or even the physical strength, to have pushed on to fire that goal home. But when he did the relief was palpable.
Benitez has suffered huge amounts of pressure this season, most of it brought on by the anti-Liverpool media falling over themselves with humour provided by the two clowns in charge of our club. Gillett, the least heinous of the pair, was at Anfield last night while Hicks was at the ‘too important’ baseball game which saw his side suffer 8-1.
Over the last few weeks, the United result aside, Liverpool have been impressive with their new formation. Not yet the finished article by any means, but steadily improving. Rafa should be commended on taking the reds to their 3rd European semi-final in 4 seasons. A tremendous achievement.
Bring on the Chavs.