I forgot to breathe for a while there.
This particular tie is almost always exhilarating in a way that most others aren’t, and today was no different. Going into the game, it looked like a 50/50 affair, but one with a twist, where a 4-0 outcome had similar chances to a 2-2.
It ended the latter, but it could easily have been with a 5-4 scoreline, headed straight for the pantheon.
Two people were primarily responsible for the relative lack of goals compared to the number of quality chances. The first is my man-of-the-match, Aaron Ramsdale, who pulled off a series of downright incredible saves to keep Arsenal from facing even more pressure from accruing for their upcoming game against City. This was a very precious point for the Gunners, and Ramsdale was the main reason they got it. He’s had a brilliant season, too. While everyone is talking about the genius of Odegaard, the remarkable trickery of Martinelli (my player of the season so far, whom I have nicknamed “the little terrorist”), and the explosion of Saka, I find myself admiring Arsenal’s man between the posts. How many points has he singlehandedly kept for them already? The one today certainly counts.
The second was Mo Salah. If you want the clearest example of the crisis of confidence currently infecting the Reds squad, you need to look no further than Mo’s second penalty in a row where he doesn’t even hit the target. Both came in games where the goal would have mattered. Are these the only two that Liverpool has gotten this season? Regardless, he sent both of them wide. But it’s not just that. In the first half, he was bearing down on Ramsdale and ended up hitting the ball so awkwardly that it didn’t even require a save. I didn’t believe it until the replay. It happened a couple more times, and even the goal he did score came off a somewhat lucky deflection. It just felt like Salah wasn’t the cool customer he is normally
And it cost Liverpool the game.
Thank goodness for Bobby, whose last few games in Merseyside deserve a positive vibe. His goal was well taken, but it was more than that. From the moment he went on, Liverpool found its stride, and his intelligent play was reminiscent of his best days as a defensive forward, a role he pretty much invented. The Gunners didn’t know what to do with him, and without Ramsdale, he could have easily been ripped to shreds in the last quarter of an hour. During the first half an hour, it looked the opposite; Arsenal could rip Liverpool to shreds, and it was somewhat lucky that they only scored two. So, I guess, honors even.
One last note. Paul Tierney looked for long stretches like he was a minute away from losing total control of this game, and he should count himself lucky that he didn’t. I am frankly surprised that nobody got sent off (on either side, or both). This allowed us to enjoy another spectacle, and while the outcome makes it even harder to see Liverpool end the season in the Champions League places, I’m glad the only red we saw was on the jerseys.
Ten more games to go. Can the Reds do it? Yes, since their run-in is, at least on paper, perhaps the easiest within the group fighting for fourth. Will they? I don’t think so, but who knows with this season. It’s not over til it’s over, right?