FA Cup Results: Revenge is Sweet as Arsenal Knock Liverpool Out in Absorbing Fifth Round Tie at the Emirates
By Deepak Vikraman | February 17, 2014 5:02 AM EST
It was not, "you embarrassed us, we will annihilate you," and nor was it "you scored five, we will score six". But then, at the end of the day, it was a win, a much-needed, morale-boosting victory, that not only got Arsenal a measure of revenge but also put them in the right mood ahead of that daunting visit of Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski put we-cannot-lose-to-Liverpool-again-no-matter-what Arsenal 2-0 ahead in their FA Cup fifth round tie, before the German unnecessarily gave the away side a route back into the game at the Emirates, with Steven Gerrard slotting home a penalty after Luis this-was-one-of-my-more-frustrating-games Suarez was brought down inside the box.
However, revenge was to be Arsenal's sweet desserts as the home team, roared on by a c'mon-then-one-step-closer-to-a-trophy crowd, just about saw off a barrage of Liverpool attacks in the final half hour to take a 2-1 victory and book their place in the FA Cup sixth round.
The first plan for Arsenal would have been not to concede a goal within the first minute, like they did so diabolically in that 5-1 defeat at Anfield last weekend.
The second plan - not to keep a high line and allow the Liverpool forwards, with ridiculous pace, a chance to get in behind.
That plan did not quite go according to plan, as Daniel Sturridge was given two on-a-plate-for-you-mate opportunities, which the England forward missed on both occasions.
First, Steven Gerrard, who was all over the ground for Liverpool, chasing down balls, tracking runs, and making his team tick while going forward, played a through ball to Sturridge, who got in behind Laurent Koscielny, who otherwise had a brilliant game, and Nacho Monreal. However, Sturridge, with the ball on his right foot, could not get enough of a connection, with Lukasz Fabianski making a comfortable-enough save.
The Liverpool striker, in the form of his life, then fluffed his lines again, as Luis I'm-not-so-effective-playing-on-the-right Suarez found a through ball for his teammate, with Sturridge firing into the wrong side of the net after rounding Fabianski.
You miss such big chances against a side like Arsenal, even when they are coming off a huge loss, you will always be made to pay, and that proved to be the case. The Gunners, after taking their time, but slowly but surely growing into the game, found the opening goal on 16 minutes, courtesy the man who has made such an outstanding comeback from a long injury layoff.
An initial set-piece from Mikel Arteta was cleared by Martin Skrtel, but Mesut I-really-need-a-good-game-against-strong-opposition Ozil clipped the ball back into the box, with Yaya I-can-be-an-able-replacement-for-Giroud Sanogo chesting the ball down wonderfully well before firing a volley.
The shot was blocked before it reached goalkeeper Brad Jones, but fell kindly for Oxlade-Chamberlain to side-foot in from 11 yards.
With Arsenal refraining from holding their high line, and staying compact down the middle, Liverpool found it difficult to break through the lines, with Suarez in particular cutting a frustrated figure.
But then, such is the quality of the Uruguayan that all it takes is a moment of genius, and Suarez nearly produced that when he fired a stinging shot from a tight angle, only to see Fabianski up to the task.
There were a few nibbles here and there for the home side, who were playing more like the away side really, as the tie went into halftime with the score reading 1-0 to the Arsenal.
It was almost 1-1 within the first minute of the second half, as that ridiculous talent Suarez twisted and turned, left the Arsenal defence for dead and drove a low shot which Fabianski, again, did really well to keep out with his right foot.
A couple of deep breaths later and Arsenal were two goals to the good. Oxlade-Chamberlain exchanged passes with Ozil, who found the winger with a terrific through pass, with "The Ox" then finding Why-on-earth-am-I-not-in-the-starting-lineup-more-often Podolski, who made no mistake with a calm right-footed finish.
With Liverpool needing two goals at least to stay in the FA Cup, the game opened up considerably as Suarez and Sturridge had a couple of speculative efforts, while Ozil at the other end forced an outstanding one-handed save from Brad Jones.
Podolski, who had put Arsenal firmly in the driver's seat, then decided to make the game interesting again, chopping down Suarez inside the box for absolutely no reason, with I-never-really-miss-a-penalty Gerrard coolly slotting home to make the final 30 minutes really interesting.
Sturridge was denied by Fabianski again, before Suarez had another case for a second penalty, which Howard Webb overlooked, despite Oxlade-Chamberlain bringing down the Liverpool striker inside the box - Suarez's this-would-have-sat-perfectly-on-Broadway-or-the-West-End antics probably going against him.
Liverpool manager went for broke, bringing on Jordan Henderson for left-back Aly Cissokho, with winger Raheem Sterling slotting in at right-back as Suarez kept peppering the Arsenal goal with shot after shot, which kept finding the hands of Fabianski.
Arsenal moved deeper and deeper into their own box, but just about stayed firm to progress to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, where they will host Everton. For Liverpool, it is just the English Premier League now, with no other Cup tournaments to worry about.
Other results: Everton 3-1 Swansea; Sheffield United 3-1 Nottingham Forest.
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