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Liverpool Res 1 Arsenal Res 1 (Mar 20 2012)

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LIVERPOOL RES 1 Arsenal Res 1

Report by Steve Horton at the Academy

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Scorer(s) – Raheem Sterling

Half Time - 1-0

Venue - The Academy

Date - Tue Mar 20 2012

Star Man - Raheem Sterling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool Reserves had to settle for a point against Arsenal Reserves at The Academy on Tuesday afternoon, although they can take heart from the fact they were dominant in spells against a side who had previously won five on the bounce and scored fifteen goals without conceding.

 

It was not the strongest of Reds reserve sides, with the likes of Jon Flanagan, Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Robinson held back as first team cover. Arsenal on the other hand included French international Abou Diaby in their team as he made another attempt at a comeback from a long line of injuries.

 

Brad Jones was in goal for the Reds, with Ryan McLaughlin, Emmanuel Mendy, Andre Wisdom and Stephen Sama making up the back four. Conor Coady and Michael Roberts were the holding midfielders with Krisztian Adorjan sitting off Nathan Eccleston who was the main striker, while Suso and Raheem Sterling operated down the flanks.

 

Desperate to put last week’s 6-0 NextGen Series mauling at the hands of Ajax behind them the Reds started brightly and Eccleston had a low shot saved in the first minute. Two minutes later Suso released Sterling down the right and his cross was headed over by a defender for a corner. From this the ball fell to Suso on the edge of the box but his curling shot through a crowded area was well held by the keeper.

 

After five minutes Liverpool took the lead, Sterling making space for himself on the ball before skipping past a defender and hitting a low shot that gave the keeper no chance. The Reds were in total control and with Sterling swapping flanks to create havoc on either side, Arsenal’s defence didn’t have a clue how to handle the situation. In the tenth minute Wisdom muscled the ball off Diaby by the halfway line and released Suso but his shot was blocked.

 

After a quarter of an hour Arsenal almost had an undeserved equaliser when Wisdom carelessly passed the ball across the back four and it was intercepted by Benik Afobe but his shot hit the post and bounced back into the arms of a grateful Jones.

 

Aside from this the Reds were generally in control of the game with Suso and Adorjan being particularly effective, forcing the visiting defence into a number of clumsy errors and panicky clearances. Diaby stood out as Arsenal’s best player but his teammates weren’t on the same wavelength as him and couldn’t take advantage of his clever passes.

 

The Reds found themselves exposed in the 27th minute when McLaughlin was bundled over as he went on a run down the right but as appeals for a free kick came to nothing Arsenal broke clear in the exposed area, only for Jones to safely gather the cross. By the half hour mark Liverpool were no longer dominant but although Arsenal sprayed plenty of nice passes around there was no finished product, such as in the 35th minute when Nico Yennaris was teed up by Diaby but shot well over.

 

A minute later though Jones needed to be at his best when Diaby surged forward from the halfway line, released a teammate in the area only for the Reds keeper to make a point blank save. The game was now end to end and in the 38th minute the Reds had the ball in the net again after Eccleston had set up Sterling but despite vociferous appeals the referee and his assistant stood by the offside decision.

 

Three minutes before the break there was a farcical decision when an Arsenal defender injured himself whilst tackling Suso. As the Reds player continued his run and lined up his shot the referee stopped play so he could be treated and after some verbals from the Arsenal captain Suso found himself getting booked, presumably because he was supposed to have kicked out.

 

Suso’s yellow card was the key for a remarkable recovery by his tackler but just before half time there was another incident of an Arsenal player getting injured making a tackle, this time Zak Ansah staying down and getting stretchered off. There was just enough time for the Reds to take a free kick but Suso’s ball to Sterling was too strong and the referee then blew for half time.

 

Early in the second half Sterling saw a dangerous cross headed clear as far as Suso, who played a neat one two only to be caught offside. In the 50th minute though Arsenal were level when Oguzhan Ozyakup crossed from the left and Diaby bundled the ball over the line, injuring himself in the process although he was able to continue after some treatment.

 

On the hour Diaby was replaced by Kyle Ebecilio who immediately posed problems for McLaughlin down that side. Chuks Aneke then had a shot parried by Jones and the ball was scrambled clear with Wisdom then surging forward on a good run but instead of laying it off he kept going and eventually ran into a blind alley.

 

Goalscoring opportunities were now becoming less frequent as both sides cancelled each other out in the middle of the field more, although in the 67th minute a brilliant sequence of 10-15 passes from the Reds ended with Sterling’s cross being cleared for a corner.

 

As the game entered its final quarter the Reds briefly stepped up a gear, Sterling especially keen to receive the ball as he gave 17 year old Swiss youth international Martin Angha a hard time, Eccleston coming across to help out as well. To Sterling’s credit he was also clipped twice near the edge of the box but continued his run to deliver a cross when it may have been easier to go down and appeal for a penalty.

 

The referee was giving nothing to Liverpool, who kept their heads down and got on with the game whilst on the other hand Arsenal’s vociferous captain was in his ear at every opportunity. On one occasion Eccleston went down on the right and grabbed the ball assuming a free kick would be awarded only for the referee to award a throw in to Arsenal instead. Liverpool quietly shook their heads and accepted this, but when Suso was alleged to have fouled one of their players Arsenal manager was on the pitch screaming “He faaaaacccckkkking pulled him back”.

 

After the burst of energy had come to nothing, the Reds eased off again and as the game drew to a close both sides seemed happy to accept a draw, although there was a half chance four minutes from time when a bad defensive ball was cut out by Suso and played to Eccleston, who was caught offside.

 

 

Team: Jones; MCLaughlin, Sama, Wisdom, Mendy; Coady, Roberts; Suso, Adorjan, Sterling; Eccleston:

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