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Arsenal 1, Liverpool 0: Ask for Ugly, and Ye Shall Receive

Only saw bits and pieces of the match, but a few thoughts after the jump.

**Since I caught only the second half, and only chunks at a time of that, this is gonna be sparse. For a more comprehensive view from the Liverpool side, check out nate over at oh you beauty, and for Arsenal, make your way to Martin at Arsenal Offside.**

I can't tell if it's a long day of paperwork and driving or solidified indifference, but I find myself not that disappointed in the result. I felt it would always be an uphill battle to win at the Emirates, and a draw would have been a serviceable, even positive, result for Liverpool tonight. At this point in the season, taking points off Chelsea and United will be a bonus---it's all about staving off the other challengers for the fourth spot and beating the teams that are below Liverpool in the table. Sure, you could puff out your chest and say, "It's Liverpool! We should win every game! YNWA!" And you'd be right in any other season, just not this one.

Still, I managed to be disappointed by the few things that I did see. Here's three:

1) Arsenal's Goal: From what I could tell, Arsenal's pressure grew exponentially after Jamie Carragher came off injured. Phillipp Degen has been good in his previous appearances, but that's been on the right wing, and he looked out of place in defense. No better example than on Abu Diaby's header, as Degen stood idly by as Diaby streaked towards goal. It was a just result for all the work Arsenal put in, and given the defense lapse there was little other outcome. Rosicky was free on the right from Bendtner's pass, and the cross met Diaby's head gently, and the match was settled. Almost training ground stuff given the comical defending. "Okay Thomas, you stand here on the edge, and when Abou runs forward you kick it to him. Don't worry about those guys in black, they're just going to stand there for effect."

2) Liverpool's Attack: The results from the last two matches have, in a way, masked the continued dearth of creativity in Liverpool's attack. Only after Ryan Babel came on did Liverpool get a decent chance, which came in the form of a thirty-yard rocket that Almunia did well to tip off the bar. However, all the set pieces I saw were abysmal, there was nothing happening from the wide areas, and the middle part of the pitch was congested and lacked any sort of cutting edge. I have no idea why Albert Riera didn't feature at any point, and it speaks volumes that Ryan Babel is the Liverpool attacker that was most influential (at least from what I saw). David Ngog was anonymous up front, Maxi wasn't doing too much convincing, and it was another industrious yet fruitless performance from Kuyt on the right. Even more worrying is the fact that, besides Babel, there were no more changes made. A little urgency, Rafa? Playing for a scoreless draw is one thing, continuing to play for a scoreless draw after you've conceded is another.

3) Steven Gerrard: As my gateway to Liverpool, I have felt a special allegiance to Steven Gerrard over the past few years. But I can't contain my disappointment in his tendency to stop, drop, roll, look, and whine on such a consistent basis. It's mind-boggling, it's frustrating, it's damn near heartbreaking to see time and again. It's a horrible example for the younger talent in the side, and what makes it worse is that it's written off by the media as "losing balance" or "getting clipped." I saw two blatant dives, one rightfully waved off in the box, and the other inexplicably rewarded in the dying moments. Not only is it embarrassing, it disrupts Liverpool in attack---in both cases the ball could have arguably been gathered by the toppled captain, who instead lay on the turf with his arms in the air, staring at Howard Webb with contempt. He's certainly not the only offender, but he's the captain of Liverpool F.C., and the duty comes with integrity.

I hadn't intended for this to be so doom and gloom, and I'm open to any comments about whatever positives there are to take out of today, but I was less than impressed with what I did see. Let's hope it's an anomaly, because there's not much time for the club to feel sorry for themselves.

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