After The Match 


Liverpool-Arsenal 4-4 (0-1)        21.4.09                             PL
Goals: Torres (49, 72), Benayoun (56, 90) Arshavin (36, 67, 70, 90)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Aurelio, Carragher, Agger, Mascherano, Alonso, Benayoun, Riera, Kuyt, Torres
Subs: Babel (Riera 73), El Zhar (Kuyt 86)
Not used: Cavalieri, Skrtel, Lucas, Ngog, Dossna
Yellow: Sagna (61)
Red: None
Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance: 44,424
Shots on target: 14-4
Shots off target: 9-4
Blocked shots: 3-0
Fouls conceded: 10-12
Corners: 12-0
Offsides: 5-6
Possession: 53.4-46.6
Yellow: 0-1
Red: 0-0
HEADLINES "We showed today that
we can
fight until
the last minute..."

Rafael Benitez
2204: Reds on right track claims Benitez
2204: Classic case of self destruction
2204: Drawing power has cost
          Liverpool FC the title

2204: Yossi: We're not giving up on title
2204: Liverpool FC and Arsenal
          produce a night to remember

2104: Rafa vows to keep fighting
2104: Gerrard: Two points dropped
2104: Arshavin stars as Reds' title hopes falter  

Reds on right
track claims Benitez


Rafael Benitez believes he finally has his Liverpool team playing the way he wants but it may have come too late for them in the title race.

The Spaniard has built a reputation of being cautious and unadventurous but in their last eight matches in all competitions they have scored 27 goals.

Uncharacteristically they have conceded 12, with successive 4-4 draws against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League and Tuesday night's epic against Arsenal at Anfield which handed the initiative back to arch-rivals Manchester United in the championship run-in.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side may now be second in the table but it is only on goal difference and they have two matches in hand, the first of which is at home to Portsmouth on Wednesday night.

After Liverpool's 4-0 Champions League victory over Real Madrid in mid-March - which signalled the start of their goalscoring run - captain Steven Gerrard claimed the "shackles were off".

However, Benitez insists he has not switched tactics and their recent form is merely a result of months of hard work finally paying off.

"There is not really [a change of emphasis]. The understanding between the players is better," said the Liverpool boss.

"This week we were talking in training sessions and we could see the team were playing with a lot of confidence.

"We didn't need to say anything because they knew what to do.

"Because we have been practising so many times during the season the players know now what to do.

"For me we have the same mentality, the difference now is we play better. We have more confidence and we can score more goals."

Although Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun scored two apiece in the second half against the Gunners, Liverpool could have been in total control of the game before the interval had they taken their chances and also not found goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski on form.

Benitez said their form in front of goal was improving and that was due to rising confidence levels.

"If we can keep Torres fit it will be much better and you can see Benayoun is on fire," he added.

"Two or three players are doing well in attack and that could be a massive difference.

"Always we have a lot of shots and lot of opportunities but now we are scoring more goals."

With five matches remaining there is no more room for error and although Benitez believes that pressure may have affected the performance last night, he stressed the players cannot allow themselves to be crippled by it in the run-in.

"Sometimes you play with a bit of anxiety and you make mistakes," said the Spaniard.

"It is something we have to manage if we want to keep going until the end of the season.

"We showed against Arsenal we are a good team with a good mentality and great character but also I think we have to improve.

"It is difficult to know where the title challenge lies because you never know what will happen in the next game.

"We know we have to keep going in every single game and see what happens at the end.

"United still have to play against Arsenal and Manchester City."

Arsenal could yet do Liverpool a favour if they win at Old Trafford on May 16, the penultimate weekend of the season.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger certainly does not think the title race is over and has pledged his side will be totally committed when they visit Manchester on the penultimate weekend of the season.

"Don't worry at Liverpool, we will go to Manchester United and try as well to win in the championship," said the Frenchman.

"United had a little bit of a problem before the interruption of the Champions League. How they bounce back will certainly be decisive.

"It is still very open."

Classic case of
self destruction

Comment by Tommy Smith - Liverpool Echo

For the second time in a week Liverpool have been involved in an absolute classic which has caught the eye of football fans all over the world.

But today - for all the heroic efforts of the men in red - there’s a sense of dismay at seeing our hopes of silverware this season take another dent.

Neutrals might love games like these but believe me, Liverpool’s players, their manager and his staff, and the supporters, can happily do without them if it means success in a less dramatic fashion.

Rafa was nonetheless right to praise the character of his players last night. They came from behind three times to secure a point which might yet prove vital. And apart from the scoreline, every other statistic was massively in Liverpool’s favour.

But it should have been all three points and we all know it.

The mistakes which gifted Arsenal their goals were made of schoolboy stuff; Mascherano and Arbeloa dwelling on the ball in dangerous areas and then Aurelio favouring his left foot over the right he should have used to clear - and setting up another gift for the Gunners.

So there’s definitely a sense of big disappointment in the Reds camp today. But there were so many positives as well you feel for the players too for letting a golden chance slip by.

Yossi Benayoun was magnificent and everyone gave it their all to get the result. The fans too were absolutely magnificent, driving the lads on and singing You’ll Never Walk Alone even when Arsenal appeared to have won it with Arshavin’s late fourth.

We can score goals for fun right now but we’ve must eradicate the defensive cock-ups.

Drawing in such pulsating style is a big blow. But no one will be giving up yet.

Neither should they.

Drawing power has cost
Liverpool FC the title

Comment by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

It's the draws which have damaged Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes – probably fatally.

But these last two stalemates – if you can ever call eight-goal classics stale – have pointed the way forward.

In two losing causes, Liverpool have learned how to mount a more successful Premier League push next season.

Because let’s be realistic, only a miracle can salvage Liverpool’s title challenge in this current camapign. And we’ve already seen two miracle matches in the last seven days.

But the title wasn’t lost last night at Anfield in one of the most outrageously entertaining matches even this famous old stadium has ever witnessed.

The title headed East up the M62 during home draws against West Ham, Fulham, Stoke, Manchester City and Hull – games when Liverpool didn’t show the same desperate zeal to turn one point into three as they did last night.

The comeback against Hull was spirited and brave – showing some of the character of the last seven days.

But those other Anfield draws were tepid, unambitious, cautious – afternoons where avoiding defeat was preferable to going all out to risk victory.

At Stamford Bridge last week and at Anfield last night, Liverpool showed a gung-ho streak which pointed to a more progressive future.

If that tempo, that drive, that desire to turn a draw into victory had been shown against Fulham, Stoke or The Hammers, old red nose’s beaten FA Cup semi-finalists could be playing catch-up rather than looking to regain a lead at the summit tonight.

Liverpool deserved victory last night. The corner count, the possession, the shots on and off target – every stat you could count was heavily in Liverpool’s favour.

But the Reds led for just 11 minutes, and even the eternally unsighted Arsene Wenger could see why.

Liverpool made schoolboy errors.

Drawing power has cost Reds the title

Call it anxiety, call it the tension of the occasion, whatever the reasons the Reds made sloppy slips against a side superbly equipped to take advantage.

Javier Mascherano dallied fatally for the opener, Jamie Carragher’s headed clearance gave Alvaro Arbeloa no time to think, and the Spaniard’s concentration levels weren’t up to the job, then Fabio Aurelio produced a howler of a volleyed clearance.

But even after gifting the Gunners three goals, even after shipping a fourth in a desperate bid to claim all three points, Liverpool still earned a point.

Trying to put a brave face on proceedings, it was suggested that the excellent Yossi Benayoun’s 94th minute equaliser might still prove significant – that the point which took Liverpool back to the top of the table might ultimately keep them there.

It will probably only be a 24-hour stay – but it ensured that Liverpool ended the campaign unbeaten against their top-three title rivals.

United and Chelsea were beaten home and away, The Gunners held at the Emirates and Anfield.

The points that mattered went begging elsewhere this season.

But Liverpool have discovered a style of play which can surely see more of those dropped points turned into victories.

It’s only four short days since I related the tale of Eddie Futch placing a paternal arm around the shoulder of Joe Frazier and declaring: “Sit down, son; it’s all over. No-one will ever forget what you did here today.”

He was talking about a monumental effort in a losing cause – and Smokin’ Joe was never the same again after that night.

But Reds fans can be proud of what Liverpool have achieved this season.

This can be a beginning, not an end.

Yossi: We're not
giving up on title

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

Yossi Benayoun insists Liverpool won't give up on their dream of becoming champions - despite seeing two points slip away at Anfield last night.

Despite dominating Arsenal throughout, the Reds were made to pay for defensive errors as Andrey Arshavin scored four to ensure the Gunners left with a point after an enthralling clash.

It was Benayoun's last minute equaliser which ensured Liverpool returned to the top of the table on goal difference, and although Manchester United now have two games in hand the Israeli star isn't conceding the battle is lost.

"It's very difficult. United are a strong side but we won't give up and we will continue to try and do our best," he said.

"We will keep trying, look to win our remaining matches, and hopefully we can still do it.

"It was great game for the supporters to watch but not for us because we made too many mistakes. We should have won the game.

"In the first-half we created four or five really good chances but then they scored with their only shot of the half.

"We came back strong in the second-half and led 2-1. At that point we were controlling the game but we made more mistakes and then when we had to chase it they punished us.

"We have the best defence in the league and the best goalkeeper too, but I think we didn't defend well as a team against Arsenal. We scored four goals and still didn't manage to pick up the three points so I think that shows we should have done better."

Liverpool FC and Arsenal
produce a night to remember

Liverpool Daily Post

One of great nights of Premiership football at Anfield was ruined by one small detail… the score.

What is it about Liverpool and 4-4 draws against the top four? Draws that in the end may cost them a tilt at glory.

Forget the great goals and absorbing football, it’s the hat-trick of individual errors that will probably have Sir Alex Ferguson laughing all the way to the title.

They added to a game that had everything. Super shows from Andrey Arshavin and to a lesser extent Fernando Torres, controversial refereeing, all-out attack and a master-class in hitting on the break.

To win a title you need to be in a race with a handful of games to go. You certainly need a hot striker and all-out commitment.

But you'll also need the ability to put your fans through the wringer, before eventually coming out on top.

And you need defensive stability, backed up by no personal mistakes.

That's where Liverpool were let down last night.

As first-halves go, you couldn’t really ask for much more from a title-chasing side.

Fully rested after a free weekend, Liverpool ripped out of the blocks.

Torres unsettled the Arsenal defence, while Mikael Silvestre certainly unsettled Dirk Kuyt, but was denied a free-kick to draw the home crowd’s ire in the game’s first big flashpoint.

But the tension increased when Javier Mascherano handed Arsenal a goal when he dallied on the ball and allowed Cesc Fabregas to set up Arshavin for an unlikely opener.

It left 45 minutes to save a season – a half of utter mayhem.

Kuyt was rightly moved to the right and he set up two goals for first Torres and then Benayoun, as he finally used his physical presence to unsettle young full-back Kieran Gibbs.

Back came Arsenal as two more defensive mistakes – this time from Alvaro Arbeloa and Fabio Aurelio – handed Arshavin two more in one of those halves of complete havoc which often decide titles.

More Torres magic brought it back to three, and as the young Gunners tired Liverpool again laid siege to the goal.

Even Jamie Carragher went close.

But Arshavin went closer as picked up a pass from Theo Walcott after the Arsenal youngster had picked the ball up from a Liverpool corner.

But despite ripping through a tiring Arsenal, a few things undid Liverpool.

One was such a commitment to attack that they forgot how to defend. The other was a lack of real quality off the bench.

Unfortunately Nabil El Zhar isn’t going to save your season just yet.

So Arsenal’s tippy-tappy counter-attacking football may not win a title race, but it certainly can derail a few.

The Gunners will play a big part in where this league title goes this season and this should have been the perfect time to play them.

For Liverpool, it was a six-game mini league, it was win or bust.

There was no room for rotation. For tweaking. For Andrea Dossena.

Just half a dozen games to put pressure on a clearly concerned Sir Alex Ferguson and see if title number 19 can be prised from Old Trafford.

Now this mini league is running out of games… and draws aren’t good enough.

Rafa vows to keep fighting

Sky Sports

Rafa Benitez was left to rue Liverpool's defensive lapses following the 4-4 draw with Arsenal but refused to write off his side's title chances.

Yossi Benayoun grabbed a point for the Reds at the end of an extraordinary match to send them back to the top of the table on goal difference ahead of Manchester United, who have two games in hand.

Benitez admits Liverpool were poor at the back but was nevertheless satisfied with aspects of the performance.

"I think today we made too many mistakes but it is also very positive because the team showed character until the last minute," he told Sky Sports.

"It is difficult to explain (the errors) and we made a massive mistake at the end but maybe we were a little nervous.

"But the positive thing is we have one more point against a good team and we are top of the table."

Arsenal's fourth goal came from a counter-attack after Liverpool had committed most of their team forward, but Benitez feels it was right to search for victory even when the score was level.

He explained: "Clearly we were thinking before that we had to win every game so it is disappointing but to score four goals is very pleasing."

Benitez does not believe the result affects the situation at the top of the table significantly, with Manchester United still in pole position.

"They continue in the driving seat so we have to keep pushing," he said.

"We showed today that we can fight until the last minute so we will try to do that until the last game."

Arsenal still have to face Liverpool's rivals and Benitez added: "They still have to play Chelsea and United and they are a good team so you never know."

Gerrard: Two points dropped

By Adam Bryant - LFC Online

Steven Gerrard was disappointed to watch Liverpool draw 4-4 with Arsenal at Anfield.

Out with a groin injury, the Liverpool skipper wanted to see the Reds pick up the full three points to push Manchester United for the Premier League title, but it was not to be.

"Ideally we wanted three points tonight, so we see it as two points dropped but this point could be important," he said.

"I still feel that there's going to be a few twists and turns but we're relying on other people to do us favours.

"Tremendous game for the neutral, not for myself, but I wanted three points tonight.

"It would have been very, very difficult if we'd have lost the game but I think that point could be big.

"Performance wise at times we were very good tonight. We pressed well, Torres and Benayoun were frightening going forward.

"I know Arshavin will get man of the match but Yossi Benayoun was my man of the match - he's as brave as a lion."

Arshavin stars as
Reds' title hopes falter

By Toby Davis - Setanta Sports

Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes were severely dented as they were held to a 4-4 draw by Arsenal in an extraordinary encounter that saw Andrei Arshavin grab all four for The Gunners.

In a pulsating clash from start to finish, both sides exchanged the lead in a game that showcased both the best and worst that both sides had to offer.

There were mistakes galore, as well as some of the best attacking football you are ever likely to see in what was a fantastic advert for The Premier League.

Arsenal took the lead, before Liverpool turned the clash on its head with headers from Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun.

But Arshavin embarked on a one-man mission to scupper Liverepool’s title hopes, equalising before giving The Gunners the lead. Torres responded once more, while Arshavin added another and Benayoun netted his second of the game to make it 4-4.

Liverpool return to the top of the table on goal difference but with two games in hand, it is Manchester United who are in the box seat in the Premier League run-in.

The pre-match talk focused on Sir Alex Ferguson’s strained efforts to get under the Liverpool manager’s skin with tenuous claims about his behaviour against Blackburn the previous week.

But by failing to make an appearance at the pre-match press conference, Benitez’s message to all was clear: I’ll let my players do the talking on the pitch.

And The Reds were speaking in unison in the opening flurries, carving Arsenal apart at will to create a host of early opportunities.

Within two minutes Torres had left Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna sitting on the turf as he cut into the area before curling the ball into the grateful arms of Lukasz Fabianski.

Before Liverpool’s Spanish marksman fed Riera who again could not beat Arsenal’s Polish keeper with a sharp shot from the edge of the area.

The much-maligned Fabianski had faced his fair share of criticism following his Wembley antics at the weekend, but if confidence was in short supply it didn’t show. He was alert to everything Liverpool threw at him, a lone ship guarding The Gunners goal from the hosts Spanish Armada.

He was out quickly to smother an effort from Yossi Benayoun, who had been fed through the middle by Dirk Kuyt on nine minutes, but the pick of the Pole’s array of first-half stops was a one-handed tip over from a vicious half volley by Fernando Torres.

The Gunners showed occasional glimpses of neat football, but they were second best in every department and looked unlikely to keep their goal intact for 90 minutes. They appeared every inch the injury-ravaged, under strength line-up they were.

But they were hanging on for dear life and Liverpool were growing increasingly frustrated as chance after chance went begging.

Torres fired in a shot from 25 yards that Fabianski could not keep hold of, while Anfield let out a collective groan a minute later as Daniel Agger, newly-restored to the Reds line-up had a header cleared off the line.

Liverpool’s dominance, however, served only to make the irony of Arsenal’s opener all the more poignant. And Benitez’s side had only themselves to blame as Javier Mascherano was guilty of giving the ball away on the edge of his own area.

The Argentine is not known for his ability in possession, which made his decision to dally on the ball 20 yards from his own goal all the more absurd.

He was robbed by Cesc Fabregas, who exchanged passes with Samir Nasri, the second of which had more than a hint of offside about it, before the Arsenal skipper crossed for Arshavin to side-foot the ball into the back of the net off the underside of the crossbar.

The goal however seemed only a momentary interlude in the one-way traffic as within a minute, Benayoun skipped through a series of Arsenal challenges and into the box before drawing another fine one-handed save from Fabianski.

It was not long, however, before The Reds did draw level in a breathless start to the second half and barely five minutes after that they took the lead. Two bad clearances from Arsenal, led to two crosses, two headers and two goals.

Sagna was guilty of the first mistake, only finding Kuyt with his effort to clear his lines. The Dutchman picked out Torres at the second attempt and his header was powerfully dispatched past Fabianski from eight yards.

Gibbs was the guilty party five minutes later, again finding Kuyt wide on the right. He put in an excellent ball to the far post where Benayoun just about got his head to it ahead of Sagna. His effort looped back into the goal where Fabianski could only scoop it out from behind the line.

But the drama was far from over; in fact, it had barely just begun. Arsenal turned the tie on its head and this time, it was the turn of Liverpool’s full backs to make a mess of their clearances.

Arbeloa gifted the ball to Arshavin midway through the second half and he strode forward before dispatching a swerving effort powerfully past Reina and into the net.

And the Russian completed his hat-trick three minutes later, this time puncing on a woeful attempt by Fabio Aurelio to clear his lines, and rifle the ball under Reina from ten yards out.

Liverpool were in need of a rapid response and who better than Torres to provide it. With 18 minutes left on the clock, the Spaniard received a cross from Riera, took a touch to get the ball out from under his feet, dropped the shoulder to beat Mikael Silvestre and hammered it past Fabianski.

The Reds pressed for the elusive winner but were hit with a sucker punch at the death as Arshavin scored his fourth in injury time. Walcott broke down the right before squaring to the unmarked Arshavin to lash it home when one-on-one with Reina.

But in a remarkable clash, it was only to be expected that Liverpool would grab a late equaliser. And Benayoun duly obliged finishing from close range to salvage a point for The Reds that gives them a mountain to climb in their title pursuit.

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