Arsenal’s Usual Weaknesses Were Visible

Despite victory against Liverpool, Arsenal’s usual weaknesses and recent constraints were visible: Manuel Almunia’s incapacity to make good decisions, a shortage of firepower in attack and Arsene Wenger’s misjudgment that the performance was worthy of champions. 
The Pink Panther Strikes Again 
Manuel Almunia’s flap which led to Liverpool’s goal must surely be his last for the season. The deep free-kick sent above the rising heads would have been gathered up by the world’s best goalkeepers – not Almunia.
No doubt the Spanish keeper was flustered by the nearest player Lucas and all he could do was palm the ball down to Dirk Kuyt who cushioned home. More maddening was Almunia’s typical look of clulessness by what had just happened, making him appear more like the incompetent French inspector he already facially resembles.
Like Inspector Clouseau, Almunia’s shambling around is time and again the root of Arsenal’s destruction and his buffoon attempts to solve the problem only leads to further misfortune for the Gunners.
Before Almunia is allowed to cause anymore Clouseau-like chaos in Arsenal’s box, Wenger must take his badge. And somebody please move the bust of Herbert Chapman to a safer place away from the goalkeeper’s clumsy hands.
The eager Lukas Fabianski is waiting for his chance and now is the time. Even if Fabianski makes a few hiccups perhaps expected of a young goalkeeper, they will be none more than the annual gaffs demonstrated by Almunia. By playing him now, the Polish keeper could be fully ready for next season.
The darker side of Wenger  
Clouseau’s direct superior is Chief Inspector Dreyfus, often found in the state of a homicidal psychopath when Clouseau’s clowning around becomes all too much. Yesterday, uncharacteristically, Wenger took up this role at half-time, reporting to have unleashed some rage on the players apparently undeserving to wear the Arsenal shirt.
This was the most significant moment of the day, and possibly the season if Arsenal are to taste any real success from here on. Cesc Fabregas explained he had never seen Wenger so angry before and raised a smile when adding perhaps he should do it more often.
There would be nobody opposed to that. Of course though, the real question is why hasn’t Wenger lost his rag before with a group of players who more than on the odd occasion come in at half-time dirt-free?
Regardless of injuries, playing in an unfamiliar position or even if the team you’re playing against just happen to be weaving together one heck of a performance, the least any footballer must do at whatever level is compete in the course of battle.
Quite pathetic this time was Arsenal’s reluctance to risk a limb in the tackle compared to the passionate Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano. Arsene had lambasted them for losing every even challenge and on this occasion it joggled Arsenal into tightening up in the second half. Better yet, it installed in them enough belief that they could come from behind to win at Anfield for the first time in six years.
Beware the crocodile’s smile 
Thomas Vermaelen collected the man of the match award for another rugged performance. In the first-half neither he nor William Gallas could handle the movement of Fernando Torres or Gerrard. Post Wenger bashing, the two became a more solid foundation and reduced Liverpool to no efforts on goal.
Going forward Arsenal managed to get more bodies ahead of the ball and forced Liverpool to defend deeper. All of a sudden Pepe Reina was dealing with more shots and crosses, eventually leading to Liverpool’s downfall.
The first was a Glenn Johnson own goal after a cross from the bye-line. Arsenal had finally worked out that Jamie Carragher has the balance of new born calf and Liverpool are only settled when defending the ball in front of them. The second came again when Johnson misjudged a cross and the Russian wizard Andrey Arshavin nipped in to fire high past a rooted Reina.
During his post-match interview, Wenger’s grin was wide and his teeth sharp. But beware his wryness bound up in the warm sensations of victory because deceivingly Arsenal collectively lacked quality.
Theo Walcott remains stifled by the tactical requirements of Wenger. Attempting anything imaginative or risky is past Brazilian back-seat passenger Denilson. Eduardo and Carlos Vela – Arsenal’s last recognised forwards – remain on the bench. A team goal was beyond Arsenal then, and therefore only the individual mistakes of Liverpool, punished by the solo brilliance of Arshavin could rescue the day for Wenger.
Credit where credit’s due
Some praise must be given though to Wenger’s judgment to buck the trend at half-time with an iron fist. It must have been a difficult choice for him given his usual tactfulness when dealing with the mental state of his precious stars.
It worked, it was needed and it was the management required to keep an under-strength Arsenal side breathing down the necks of Manchester United and Chelsea.

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