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Liverpool Focus - Arsenal draw sparks mixed feelings


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By Mushtaq Quraishi

Thursday 31 January 2013

As Brendan Rodgers’ young Liverpool outfit were being humiliated by League One side Oldham Athletic in a fascinating FA Cup tie last weekend, a number of football supporters were already looking ahead to Wednesday night and the Reds’ meeting with fellow top-four hopefuls Arsenal.


Luis Suarez


If the Merseysiders could not beat minnows Oldham, what chance would they have of rolling up to Emirates Stadium and collecting three valuable Premier League points? Worse still, given that the Gunners had managed to score 12 goals in their previous three home games in the top-flight, would Liverpool realistically even be able to take a single point back home with them?


Those thoughts were premature. The glass was half empty, until Luis Suarez scored his 22nd goal of an impressive season just five minutes into the fixture in north London to put Liverpool ahead. Encouraged by Arsenal’s poor defending, the visitors smelt blood, but were unable to add to their lead.


A crazy second half followed, though one which saw the Reds score again through the ever-improving Jordan Henderson. It was a terrific response to the almost forgotten Oldham defeat. That was until Arsene Wenger’s side managed an excellent comeback. The glass was half empty once more.


Any supporter would be disappointed with their side surrendering a 2-0 lead and there is a similar feeling of sadness, frustration and dissatisfaction at Liverpool’s inability to cling onto the three points, which they seemed to have firmly in their grip on the hour mark. A victory at Emirates Stadium would have worked wonders not only for the Reds’ confidence, but also in their quest to finish the season ahead of Wenger’s team. As it stands, the Anfield outfit are still three points behind their rivals. This was an opportunity missed.


Or perhaps it was indication of how well Liverpool are adapting to life under Rodgers in what can only be described as a transitional season? Arsenal have consistently finished in a Champions League place under Wenger’s watch and although there are some doubts over whether they can achieve that again come the end of this campaign, they are a side who will likely finish there or thereabouts in May. Regardless of the circumstances, to travel to Arsenal and take a point may not be a poor a result as it may seem to some. Only time will tell how crucial that point is.


There are other reasons to be cheerful for Liverpool supporters – the main one being that Rodgers has added a talented Brazilian youngster to the ranks in the form of Philippe Coutinho, who was lured from Italian giants Inter Milan on Wednesday.


A promising player, Coutinho’s arrival will provide a sense of intrigue around Anfield. Media reports suggest that the attacking midfielder is a creative and exciting player. Judging by how frequently another imaginative artist, Suarez, manages to get the crowd off their seats, Coutinho may well provoke a similar response should he display as much skill as his fellow South American. A Coutinho-inspired victory at Manchester City in Liverpool’s next outing would make him an early fans’ favourite.


See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG


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