I am not a huge fan of modern Premiership soccer. The analysis on tv and radio is poor and under informed, the coverage in the press has reached saturation point, the whole social media thing grates on me. Every year teams change as if dealt a fresh deck of cards. I found that I could name the first Liverpool side I watched of the sixties under Bill Shankly: Lawrence, Lawler, Stevenson,Yeats, Byrne, Milne, Melia, Callaghan, St John, Hunt, Thompson. Nowadays I would not know half of the Liverpool team . There is the odd one club man, notably Stevie Gerrard, well paid to be so, but no one will get near to Ian Callaghan’s record of 800 plus games.
In the absence of anything else to do I settled down to watch Liverpool play Arsenal. Arsenal between 1952 and 1970 won nothing and even after that, when they did, earned “the boring Arsenal” tag. Along came Arsene Wenger 20 years ago and implemented a fluid, passing style that was and is a joy to watch. Mourinho may mock his recent lack of silverware but I would rather watch the Arsenal than any team Mourinho managed.
Pargie called and we liked the odds of laying Liverpool. With Koscelny and Mertsacker at the heart of the Gunners defence they concede few goals and I expected a low scoring draw. How wrong I was as the Reds racked up two early goals. Peter Cech shoud have saved both. He reminded me of the great Peter Shilton in the twilight of his career. In the shoot-out against Germany in the 1990 World Cup, he guessed right on every penalty but could not get to the ball. I watched Cech leap across his goal, finish up well beyond it but unable to reach the ball. Liverpool may have unearthed a successor to Suarez in Firmino who scored two beauties. Arsenal replied with a typically well-worked effort when Campbell cleverly played Ramsay in to score. Liverpool ‘s defending of corners was poor and Migmolet in their goal did not dominate so it was no surprise that Giroud score scored to make it 2-2. The second half did not quite match the enthralling drama of the first. Giroud scored one more but few outside Arsenal begrudged Liverpool their late equaliser.
Owen Hargreaves was a poor summariser offering minimal further value but Glenn Hoddle read the game well. To my surprise Rio Ferdinand is an interesting analyst. Most ex-footballers tend to talk too much about themselves but he draws on his experience to illuminate incidents like a near post shot beating the keeper. He is the bestanalyst of defence since Alan Hansen.
With Welbeck, Wilshere, Santa Cazorla, Gibbs and Sanchez to come back Arsenal will have fresh legs in the latter half of the season and may well be crowned champions. Liverpool look some way off from even the top four but certainly under Klopp they have a new energy and vigour. The two sides delivered a feast.