After The Match 


Arsenal-Liverpool 1-1 (0-1)           5.4.08                            PL
Goals: Crouch (42)       Bendtner (54)
Team: Reina, Arbeloa, Finnan, Skrtel, Carragher, Riise, Pennant, Benayoun, Lucas, Plessis, Crouch
Subs: Gerrard (Pennant 66), Voronin (Benayoun 75),
Torres (Crouch 80)
Not used: Itandje, Hyypia
Yellow: Riise (29), Pennant (53)         Eboue (67)
Red: None
Referee: Phil Dowd
Attendance: 60,101
Shots on target: 3-2
Shots off target: 4-9
Blocked shots: 3-3
Fouls conceded: 10-10
Corners: 5-3
Offsides: 0-1
Possession: 56.3-43.7
Yellow: 1-2
HEADLINES "It's very,
very difficult
to play for
a 0-0."
Rafael Benitez

0504: Rafa praises debut boy Damien
0504: Wenger: Title tilt not over
0504: Crouch thrilled to be back on scoresheet
0504: Reds earn draw at Arsenal 


Rafa praises debut boy Damien

By Jimmy Rice at the Emirates - LFC Official Website

Rafa Benitez was full of praise for debutant Damien Plessis after watching his side come close to a first ever victory at the Emirates.

The 20-year-old midfielder was a surprise inclusion against Arsenal as Benitez made eight changes from Wednesday's Champions League encounter.

Up against Cesc Fabregas, the Frenchman put in a composed display to stake his claim for a regular place in the squad.

Benitez said: "Today was the debut for Damien Plessis. We knew when we signed him that he was a good player. He's played really well for the reserves, and to play as well as he did today in this stadium, it shows we are going in the right direction."

The game also brought a recall for Peter Crouch, who scored the Reds goal during a man-of-the-match display.

"Crouch played really well, as did Benayoun, Lucas and Riise. A lot of players who don't normally play played well," said Benitez.

"Arsene Wenger also kept some players for the second leg. You could see some players were tired but the majority played the game with a lot of passion.

"It was an open game at the end. We knew we had to work hard and we did that for a long time. We were well organised and scored a good goal.

"We could have lost because they had chances, but we could have won because we had two or three opportunities as well.

"At the end I was a little bit disappointed because we could have won. Torres, Gerrard and Riise had some attacks."

On the prospect of Crouch signing a new contract, the Anfield boss said: "He is a very good professional, that's why we've offered him a new contract. I have confidence. I know he is happy here but I also know he wants to play. We have offered the contract and now we need to wait.

"We are playing at the moment with one striker, but we've played a lot of the season with two. We are a team that is winning trophies and he can be an important part of that."

Next up for Liverpool is the third part of this week's Arsenal trilogy, with the Gunners visiting Anfield on Tuesday for the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final.

The first leg ended 1-1 three days ago, meaning the sides have now been inseparable during 270 minutes of football this season.

On what could ultimately separate the sides, Benitez said: "We have confidence but we know they have quality and can play well away from home.

"The small details can be the difference. A mistake or a top-class player will be the difference between whether we win or lose."

A goalless draw would be enough for the Reds to progress but Benitez added: "It's very, very difficult to play for a 0-0. I do not know how to do it!"

Last year's Champions League semi-final against Chelsea was decided on penalties, a very real possibility this time round.

Not that Gerrard and co will be spending hours honing their skills from 12 yards over the next few days.

"I don't believe too much in practicing penalties," Benitez explained. "I am a believer in the heart and quality of the players. We have some good players to take penalties. We practiced before the Chelsea semi-final but not too much, because when you are walking from the halfway line to the box it is just about being calm.

"Sometimes an 18-year-old player can be really good, sometimes a 31-year-old can be not so good.

"But I will try not to think about penalties. We will try to use our experience during the game."

Wenger: Title tilt not over

Sky Sports

Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal can still win the Premier League title, despite suffering a 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Emirates Stadium.

Both Gunners boss Wenger and his opposite number Rafa Benitez made a number of changes following Wednesday's 1-1 draw in their UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg clash and with next week's return meeting at Anfield in mind.

Liverpool striker Peter Crouch gave Liverpool the lead at the end of the first half, but Nicklas Bendtner levelled on 54 minutes to leave honours even and Arsenal trailing Manchester United and Chelsea in the top-flight title race.

However, Wenger - who believes his side should have had a penalty when Lucas Leiva appeared to pull back Cesc Fabregas - is adamant Arsenal's battle for domestic silverware is far from over.

"In my brain it is not over, because it is not over mathematically," said Wenger.

"It depends on the results of the other teams. I said we would need at least five wins and a draw.

"It is frustrating again because I feel we had a blatant penalty again for a foul on Fabregas, which was not given. You can see it well on television, it is 100 per cent conclusive.

"We also had a chance in the last minute to kill the game off.

"It was a bit of repetition of Wednesday night. We had problems starting the game, and then got into the game after 30 minutes.

"Then just before half-time they got the goal and then they defended for every ball in their half and you needed to get back to score a second goal, which was possible.

"We had to throw everything forward and left ourselves open a little on counter-attacks. That was the game basically."

Crouch thrilled to be
back on scoresheet

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

Peter Crouch was delighted to celebrate his return to first team action with a goal during the Reds' 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates.

Crouch opened the scoring with a well taken first half goal before Nicklas Bendtner levelled for the Gunners after the break.

It means the Reds have increased their lead over Everton in fourth place to six points while Arsenal have missed a chance to seriously close the gap on Manchester United at the top of the table.

"I thought it was a good performance today," said Crouch after being named man of the match.

"We had a lot of players who hadn't played a lot of football lately and when that happens it can go one of two ways. We can give up or we can show what we're made of.

"Of course I was pleased with my goal. It's been a while and I thought I'd be a bit rusty to be honest. It was nice to score and to remind people that I'm still alive. I felt I got into the game and really enjoyed it.

"I just want to play as much football as possible. It's frustrating when you're not involved in the big games but I was part of it today and hopefully I can play more games between now and the end of the season."

Reds earn draw at Arsenal

Evening Echo

Arsenal were once again left frustrated by Liverpool at Emirates Stadium as a 1-1 draw dealt a near fatal blow to their fading Premier League title hopes.

Just three days after their European tie ended all square, both teams were back to do battle for league points.

Each manager made several changes, no doubt with one eye on next week’s second leg of their Champions League quarter-final, but there was still more than enough talent on display to make for an entertaining encounter.

Recalled striker Peter Crouch gave Liverpool the lead at the end of the first half, with Nicklas Bendtner levelling on 53 minutes.

However, with Manchester United, who play at Middlesbrough tomorrow, still five points clear at the top of the table, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger knew only victory would have kept their slim hopes of the title alive.

The trip to Anfield on Tuesday night now takes on extra significance if a season which promised so much is not to end in disappointment.

Liverpool started well and Crouch soon tested Manuel Almunia, letting fly from 25 yards and forcing the Arsenal goalkeeper to make an acrobatic one-handed save to tip the ball over.

Crouch was involved again in the 17th minute, this time slipping an expert pass inside the Arsenal backline.

John Arne Riise ran onto the ball but, with William Gallas sliding in, the Norwegian lifted his 18-yard shot over the crossbar.

It was proving to be something of a chess match, with both teams happy to wait each other out and look for a quick counter-attack.

After 31 minutes, Liverpool broke down the right, with Yossi Benayoun getting in on the overlap.

However, his angled drive flashed across goal.

It should, though, have been 1-0 when, after 35 minutes, the Gunners broke quickly through Mathieu Flamini and Theo Walcott.

The ball fell to Bendtner just inside the area but the Dane’s first-time shot was weak and straight at a grateful Reina.

Arsenal were clean in on goal again when Emmanuel Eboue beat the offside trap and got away down the right.

However, his low cutback towards Cesc Fabregas was cleared by the retreating Martin Skrtel.

The home side were made to pay with three minutes left to the break when Crouch put Liverpool ahead.

The England striker headed down a long clearance from keeper Pepe Reina, which Benayoun flicked on.

Crouch collected the ball on his chest and turned inside Arsenal captain William Gallas before drilling his shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

After 51 minutes, a run and deflected shot from Walcott led to a corner for Arsenal.

Fabregas floated the ball over to Kolo Toure on the penalty spot, but the defender sent his free header wide.

Former Gunner Jermaine Pennant was booked on 53 minutes for bundling over Armand Traore as the full-back looked to get away down the left and Arsenal were level from the resulting free-kick.

Again Fabregas was the provider as he sent over a deep cross into the six-yard box where Bendtner timed his run towards the near post perfectly and powered a header into the net.

The relief around Emirates Stadium was clear as the Arsenal faithful suddenly found their voice.

Leading scorer Emanuel Adebayor was sent on, replacing full-back Justin Hoyte, for the final 33 minutes as the Gunners reshuffled.

Flamini tested Reina with a low, angled drive from the right side of the area, which the Liverpool goalkeeper held well.

Traore was replaced by Gael Clichy for the last 18 minutes before Almunia had to claw the ball away from under his own bar following Riise’s left-wing cross.

Arsenal continued to press for a winner, but could have been caught out only for substitute Andriy Voronin to fire over from 10 yards.

Fernando Torres was introduced for the final 10 minutes, as was Arsenal’s Alexander Hleb.

However, there was no way through for the home side, who had to settle for a point, which you suspect will not be enough to stay in the hunt for the title.

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Thor Zakariassen ©