After The Match 


Liverpool-Arsenal 1-3 (0-2)          6.1.07                      FA Cup
Goals: Kuyt (71)                  Rosicky (37 & 45), Henry (84)
Team: Dudek, Finnan, Riise, Carragher, Agger, Gerrard, Alonso, Garcia, Pennant, Kuyt, Crouch
Subs: Aurelio (Riise 60)
Not used: Reina, Hyypia, Gonzalez, Bellamy
Yellow:  Alonso (24)             Senderos (30), Clichy (34), Eboue (65)
Red: None
Referee: S Bennett
Attendance: 43,619
Shots on target: 2-4
Shots off target: 9-0
Blocked shots: 4-1
Possession: 61-39
Fouls conceded: 10-15
Corners: 10-2
Offsides: 2-1
Yellow: 1-3
Red: 0-0
they had
two attempts and they scored
two goals."
    Rafael Benitez

0701: Alonso fury over cheat jibes
0601: Rafa sad as Reds bow out
0601: Wenger thrilled with win
0601: Henry: Silencing Anfield was crucial
0601: Reds sent crashing by Gunners 


Alonso fury over cheat jibes

By Paul Walker - PA Sport

Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has reacted angrily to suggestions he cheated in trying to win a penalty in the 3-1 FA Cup third round defeat to Arsenal at Anfield.

The match was goalless when the Spain international knocked the ball past Gilberto only to be caught by the Brazilian's two-footed lunge in the 25th minute.

Alonso's fall was a touch on the theatrical side but there was definite contact. However, referee Steve Bennett, stood just five yards away, booked the Liverpool player for diving.

It proved to be a turning point as Tomas Rosicky scored twice in the last eight minutes of the half and although Dirk Kuyt pulled one back with a 71st-minute header Thierry Henry made the result safe late on.

"I felt the contact, that is for sure," said Alonso.

"People who have watched it on TV have said it was a clear penalty and I felt that on the pitch.

"I was talking to the referee and Gilberto and I said to them there had been contact, that I didn't cheat.

"I was trying to play with the ball and I fell down because of that contact - I was not cheating."

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez felt Kent official Bennett made an incorrect snap decision, not only in not awarding the spot-kick but also in cautioning the player.

"I felt it was a penalty early on when Xabi Alonso was brought down," said Benitez.

"I was not happy with the yellow card for Alonso, the card was too quick. Sometimes you need to wait before making a decision that quickly.

"There was contact, but it was not very clear. And if it is not clear then it should not be a yellow card."

Kuyt, named man of the match, admitted he was hoping his first experience of the FA Cup would have lasted longer than the one highly-charged game at Anfield.

"I loved the FA Cup. I'm really disappointed it (the experience) has stayed with one game," said the 10million summer signing from Feyenoord.

"In Holland the FA Cup is very famous so it is a shame we didn't go through. It is really disappointing for me but I am already looking forward to next year to play in it again.

"The atmosphere was really incredible. I have a great respect for the crowd and they helped us at difficult moments in the game."

Meanwhile, the Carling Cup, derided by most of the Premiership's top managers, has taken on a whole new significance for Liverpool after their FA Cup defeat.

Arsenal's 3-1 victory at Anfield means Rafael Benitez's side must steel themselves for the return of the Gunners on Tuesday for their postponed Carling Cup quarter-final.

The tournament rated fourth on most club's priorities is the only one Liverpool can realistically win with the FA Cup gone, the Premiership out of reach and only an Istanbul-style triumph likely to win the Champions League - such miracles do not happened twice in anyone's lifetime.

But Arsenal - a team Liverpool have beaten only twice in their last 15 meetings - will still have to be overcome.

"I do not think this result gives Arsenal any edge for the Carling Cup tie, it will be a different game with different players," said the Spaniard.

"I do not think this result will have a bearing. We will change players and so will they. It will be a different kind of game, you can not use the same players in three days.

"But the tie is now more important for us. We cannot win the FA Cup now so we must concentrate on the Carling Cup, it is now a different priority."

Not surprisingly, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger sees it differently.

"This result gives us a mental strength and confidence for the Carling Cup game," he said.

"We will come back with a different team but we will again want to win the game and believe we can.

"I was particularly pleased with Rosicky's goals. It has been playing on his mind that he has not scored many, apart from in Europe.

"But these were his first domestic goals and that has given him confidence.

"It had worried me but sometimes it is better not to make too much of the problem and leave the player to overcome the situation without pressure."

Benitez has now been left with the worrying prospect of his first trophy-free season at Anfield and knows he must do something to avoid the defensive errors that cost Liverpool dearly.

Stand-in goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek could have done better with all three goals but he was hardly helped by some dreadful defending for Rosicky's second, when the Czech evaded four half-hearted challenges to score.

Benitez was scathing about that, saying: "We felt we should have stopped both the first two goals. We made mistakes, particularly with the second.

"We were just watching the player and you cannot leave players at this level with time to decide what to do because they always have quality and will punish you."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard summed things up, saying: "For the first 30 minutes we played well and looked like the team who would score the first goal but unfortunately their goals came from our mistakes.

"Arsenal are a very good side with some fantastic players and they defended well in the second half but we are very disappointed to go out of the FA Cup."

Whether Benitez brings back goalkeeper Jose Reina for the Carling tie is debatable, as is the prospect of Craig Bellamy's inclusion.

"At the start of the season I told Jerzy he would play in the cup competitions and if you give your word to a player you must keep it," said the Spaniard.

Bellamy, free of a hamstring injury, was confined to the bench. The striker has recently explained his difficulties playing at Anfield when teams defend deep and deprive him of the room to use his pace to get behind them.

Benitez agreed with the Wales international. "I did not play Bellamy because I knew Arsenal would defend deep and that would effect the space for him to work in," he said.

But Arsenal had the returning Henry to exploit the spaces Liverpool left as they attacked in waves and it was he who scored the decisive goal at a time when the home side were pressing for an equaliser.

Wenger said: "Thierry's goal was great. It was a fine run and he is getting his strength back.

"He showed that when he went past two Liverpool defenders and had the legs to do that at a critical time in the match.

"I think the break has benefited him. At this level you need to have the strength to be able to fight for every ball, and to do that you need to be fresh mentally.

"When you have been in the final of the Champions League and then the World Cup it takes it out of you. Players are not machines and he needed
to be refreshed."

Rafa sad as Reds bow out

By Lewis Rutledge - Sky Sports

Rafa Benitez was left to rue the fact that Liverpool did not take advantage of their dominance following the 3-1 loss to Arsenal.

Liverpool spent long periods of the game in the ascendancy, but found themselves 2-0 down at half-time and with a mountain to climb just to earn a replay.

They continued to hold sway in the second half and pulled a goal back through Dirk Kuyt, but Thierry Henry broke away with six minutes remaining to seal Arsenal's passage to the fourth round.

"I think it was a good game for the supporters," Benitez told Sky Sports.

"We were controlling the game in the first half. I think they had two attempts and they scored two goals.

"The second one, at the end of the first half, made it really difficult in the second half.

"We knew that we needed to score one goal to be in the game, and we score this goal.

"Then I thought we were pushing, going forward and creating chances, but after they scored the third goal, the game was over."

Benitez was sad to see Liverpool fall at the first hurdle in their defence of the FA Cup, but believes he can learn from the defeat.

"We won the FA Cup last season and we wanted to do the same this season," he said.

"But if you cannot change a result you must think of solutions to stop defeats in the future."

Wenger thrilled with win

By Lewis Rutledge - Sky Sports

Arsene Wenger was delighted to see his Arsenal side overcome Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup.

The Gunners soaked up Liverpool's pressure comfortably in the opening 45 minutes and hit them with two sucker-punches from Tomas Rosicky just before half-time.

Liverpool dominated the second half and pulled a goal back through Dirk Kuyt, before Thierry Henry raced away to seal victory late on.

And Wenger was happy to see his side, sometimes criticised for not showing enough backbone, work hard for their win.

"We needed character, discipline and determination and we had all of that," he told Sky Sports.

"And patience as well, and good concentration, because every time we came out in the first half we scored.

"From then on it was about keeping our shape. We had to resist the immense pressure from Liverpool and we did that well, and then we killed the game off when they came back to 2-1 with a great goal."

Wenger is confident Henry is back to his best following his recent lay-off, adding: "Thierry's goal was great, it was a fine run and he is getting his strength back.

"He showed that when he went past two Liverpool defenders and had the legs to do that at a critical time in the match.

"I think the break has benefited him. At this level you need to have the strength to be able to fight for every ball in such a game, and to do that you need to be fresh mentally."

Henry: Silencing Anfield was crucial


Arsenal striker Thierry Henry praised the commitment of his team-mates after they knocked out FA Cup holders Liverpool in the third round.

Henry scored Arsenal's last goal in a 3-1 win after a double from Tomas Rosicky, with Dirk Kuyt having given Liverpool hope when his header made
it 2-1.

Henry also believed it was important to silence the Anfield crowd, who spent the opening part of the match making a protest linked to the Hillsborough disaster.

Henry said: "The commitment was spot on. The last 20 minutes they were bombarding us with crosses.

"I have so much respect for this ground and for these fans. It's always pretty important to make sure you can silence the crowd at any ground."

Rosicky's first was a clever shot over Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek and he admitted his second came when the Liverpool defence backed off him.

"My first idea was to pass back to Thierry but then I shot," said Rosicky.

"I think everybody knows how good Thierry is. It's a great win for us."

Reds sent crashing by Gunners

By Lewis Rutledge - Sky Sports

Arsenal dumped FA Cup holders Liverpool out of the competition with a 3-1 victory at Anfield.

Liverpool came back strongly in the second half after Tomas Rosicky had struck twice for Arsenal, and were pressing for an equaliser after Dirk Kuyt netted.

However, Thierry Henry scored a superb breakaway goal late on to crush their hopes.

There was an electric atmosphere at Anfield as the game got underway and Liverpool started off on the front foot, but they were unable to carve open a resolute and patient Arsenal side.

With Mathieu Flamini starting in place of the suspended Cesc Fabregas, The Reds were not given any time on the ball in midfield, and they were not able to use the width of former Gunner Jermaine Pennant.

Luis Garcia was presented with the first half-chance of the game as he picked up possession on the edge of the area, but as he struggled to bring the ball under control Philippe Senderos came in with a no-nonsense clearance.

Xabi Alonso saw a penalty appeal waved away after 20 minutes, as referee Steve Bennett decided he had dived over Gilberto's outstretched foot and awarded him a yellow card instead.

The Spaniard responded by crashing a ferocious volley just wide of Manuel Almunia's post, while Peter Crouch and John Arne Riise also missed the target with wild strikes from distance.

Arsenal were content to bide their time and try to hit Liverpool on the break, and the tactic worked perfectly in the 37th minute as Rosicky combined with Alexander Hleb to break the deadlock.

After a flowing move down the right Hleb picked out Rosicky in space on the edge of the area, but the Czech midfielder opted to shoot first time and his effort left Jerzy Dudek completely stranded as it curled beautifully into the top right corner.

Arsenal doubled their lead five minutes later as Rosicky took advantage of uncertainty in the Liverpool defence.

Fed by Henry 30 yards out and with several Liverpool players in front of him, Rosicky advanced tentatively at first. However, Steve Finnan and Steven Gerrard were unwilling to close him down and Rosicky coolly fired a shot past Dudek into the bottom left corner.

Liverpool came out much more positively after half-time, clearly determined not to relinquish their trophy without a fight.

Robin van Persie drew one good save out of Dudek from a tight angle, but afterwards it was one-way traffic as Liverpool poured forward.

The Reds peppered the Arsenal box with crosses, and their pressure was rewarded after 70 minutes when Peter Crouch rose highest to meet Pennant's corner and Kuyt cleverly headed home from six yards.

Fabio Aurelio almost levelled moments later as he volleyed Gerrard's delightful ball just wide, and it seemed only a matter of time until the equaliser would arrive.

Henry, however, had other ideas and restored Arsenal's two-goal cushion with a magical solo goal after 84 minutes.

Receiving possession in the centre circle, Henry sprayed the ball out to the left wing and set off in chase himself. Shrugging off Jamie Carragher, he charged into the area, sprinted past Daniel Agger, and stroked home from 10 yards.

Liverpool tried their utmost in the closing stages but their belief had gone and Arsenal held on to book their place in the fourth round.

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Thor Zakariassen