What a night was had by the 33,000 fans at the Emirates, It was surreal. The beautiful Wenger Ball writ large. One touch passes, good running off the ball, the silky side steps of Jack Wilshere, and in the second half, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas showed everyone why he is rated so highly, a fantastic player of Kanuesque proportions. So many emotions rolled into one after the week of worry about Arsene Wenger leaving the club, Gooners were to be treated to a festival of Wenger Ball, which is exactly what was needed to get back to normal!
At the back, Bartley and Ayling were imperious at the back, and worked the ball with a ice cool confidence that belied their young ages. In midfield, the menace of Coquelin was an iron fist in a red and white glove. Snapping into tackles… putting pressure on the ball. Sunu ran his heart out and linked well with the feisty Frimpong until the Ghanain born midfielder who plays for England had to leave the party with a thigh strain. Eastmond and Cruise sealed the possible Liverpool exits down the flanks in a calm and assured manner. Henri Lansbury back fresh from his exploits at Scunthorpe completed the midfield lineup with the diminuitive figure of James Shea in goal. A very sound goal keeper despite his size.
Liverpool had started with the rough stuff, trying desperately to put the Young Guns off their game, but slowly but surely, the ability of this team to pass FORWARDS began to tell. What a difference between these players and the current first team squad. They should show this video to the members of the first squad who were not present in the stands. The energy, the work rate, the team spirit. It was Wenger ball at it’s sublime best. Their work rate was a credit to the philosophy of the beautiful game, as each player was happy to receive the ball under pressure from their opponents and make efficient use of the next passes.
With the exit of Frimpong, Jack Wilshire had dropped back into midfield and began his masterclass in ernest. A slide rule reverse pass into Lansbury is helped on for Sunu to make a wonderfully timed run and finish with a low hard shot past the keeper! One –nil to the Young Guns! (20′) and the party is just about to begin. Ayala the Spanish centre back for the scousers is being run ragged, and it is all he can do but body check, foul and generally look an absolute fool.
Fifteen minutes later, a central free kick from Emmanuel-Thomas is curled in an it cannons off the bottom of the far post, and as the ball rebounds wide right with Sanchez Watt in hot pursuit, the hard working midfielder come striker gets taken down by the Liverpool defender. PENALTY! Jack Wilshere has clearly been practising his penalty technique as this time, he strikes the ball with swerve low and hard into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. He wheels away and does a trademark slide on his knees to receive the adulation of his team mates and the crowd. Two –nil!(34′)
Barely two minutes later Liverpool get a goal against the run of play. A stunning volley from Kacaniklic into the top right hand corner of the Gunners net after the ball had ricocheted off an Arsenal defender. James Shea was left with no chance from 15 yards. What character would these young guns possess against a team they had already easily beaten twice this season? Well the answer was dominance of the midfield areas which frankly suggested that Liverpool had woken a sleeping giant. They reapplied the sticky tape, brushed themselves down and set about the task of out passing the Liverpool players. Two – one!(36′)
The sleek skills continued into a second half display which really must be seen to be believed. The young guns tore Liverpool apart, Jack Wilshere was the architect of their destruction, his linking with Coquelin gave Arsenal 80% possession. The passes were played forwards into the feet, and lay offs and flicks and one touch passes that Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of were used to batter Liverpool into submission. Thomas Ince the talented son of the ex manager of Blackburn showed his football genes had been passed on but with more style, but even he became frustrated as the Arsenal dominance threatened to become a rout.
The third goal came from Hershel Sanchez Watt as he latched onto another wonderful pass from Wilshere, the ball had been slotted between the despairing defenders, and as Ayala tried hard to get his second yellow by trying to haul down the young Londoner as he puts on the afterburners and makes an angled run towards the penalty spot. The Keeper is easily beaten with a well executed chip. Three –one to the Young Guns(57′) and queue the celebrations in the crowd.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas is a tall gifted footballer who has corn rows ala Kanu and he turned on the style with mazy runs, dispossessing players and just when one thought that he had committed the ultimate Diaby mistake of holding on too long onto the ball, he recovered the ball and made a decisive pass to a colleague. I love watching him play, and with his ability to dribble the ball with such long legs, the comparison with Kanu at his best is not unfair. It was only fitting that as Captain for the night in the absence of Mark Randall, that he claimed a goal.
The goal was a glanced header at the near post, aimed to be a flick on for Wilshere at the far post from Henri Lansbury’s corner kick. The ball managed to creep inside the far post and the tall midfielder ran over to the sideline to give an impromptu break dancing tutorial. Four – one!(66′) Job done and the Liverpool players looked completely at sea, rudderless and humiliated. The joy and gay abandon that these young players stroked the ball around as if it was it was an exhibition match was a measure of their confidence. Surely next Tuesday on the 26th May at Anfield, upon the twentieth anniversary of that famous title win, they too will be lifting a trophy. Hopefully, they will carry on from where they left off.
So it ended, the celebration of Wenger Ball. Steve Bould’s protégés proved why we as fans must be patient and keep the faith. For if this is the future of Arsenal Football Club, then that future is very bright indeed. The players will face many challenges ahead as they complete their training and mature into first team players. Not all of this team will make the Arsenal first team, but from the riches on display, all of them should have very successful professional footballing careers.
I have repeatedly written in my blogs, that Arsene Wenger is the only manager capable of bringing the best out of our youth with his guidance and ethos. I rest my case upon this evenings performance. Liam Brady head of youth development looked on proudly as the next generation of superstars repaid him with such a superb display of technical fast flowing football. After a week that saw the fall out from the Shareholder’s Q&As suggest that Arsene Wenger would leave Arsenal Football Club, what better way to reinforce what the greatest manager in our history has brought to the club. The shareholders have profited in more ways than the new stadium and excellent football and many trophies as Wenger was quick to remind them in his press conference.
“I was disappointed because I believe especially the shareholders cannot complain,” he said.
“You look at the share price when I arrived and the share price now. You check in October 1996 it must have been around £400 and now it is £10,000. Some would say between eight and 10. But it means that the Club has moved forward and not gone back.
“Th ere are two things in our job. Criticism I accept with respect. Disrespect I don’t accept and don’t respect.
“I prefer the fans to complain rather than the shareholders. I could understand that more.”
So, Arsčne Wenger can take criticism – as long as it is constructive and delivered with respect!
Well done the Young Guns who restored the PRIDE of NORTH LONDON!
But there remains a searching only question left on my lips after watching such an amazing spectacle of football, and that is Who the f*ck started the Mexican wave? ….lol
See you on the March for Arsene Wenger outside the Emirates on Sunday.
Arsenal team: James Shea, Craig Eastmond, Thomas Cruise, Kyle Bartley, Luke Ayling, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Henri Lansbury, Francis Coquelin, Emmanuel Frimpong, Jack Wilshere, Gilles Sunu. Subs: Rhys Murphy, Charlie Mann, Sanchez Watt, Conor Henderson, Cedric Evina,
Liverpool team: Dean Bouzanis, Karl Clair, Chris Buchtmann, Daniel Ayala, Joe Kennedy, Andre Wisdom, David Amoo, Steven Irwin, Alex Kacaniklic, Lauri Dalla Valle, Thomas Ince. Subs: Nathan Ecclestone, Deale Chamberlain, Michael Roberts, Alex Cooper, Jack Robinson
Arsenal 4 Liverpool 1.