Beauty and the Beast

by Matt Quinn

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

If there’s any justice Arsenal will make the semi finals

“Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. Beauty and the Beast.” Inspiring lyrics from a great film. I can see the teapots dancing now; I can see that adorable little cup with a chip in it. Smashing stuff. Today, however, I have realised I am not as accepting of ugly things as these dancing sets of crockery. I’ve realised I’m someone entirely shallow, someone who is transfixed by beauty, someone like Dorian Gray, who would sell his soul to attain such superficial magnificence.

I reached these conclusions (conclusions I have suspected for a while), after watching last nights Arsenal v Liverpool Champions League tie. I found myself irrationally despising Liverpool, willing Arsenal to go forward, willing them to hammer four, five, six goals past Pepe Reina. I found myself getting wound up every time Liverpool launched, with launched being the operative word, a counter-attack. It was not because I support Arsenal. I don’t. It was not because I have a long-standing hatred of Liverpool. I don’t. It was because, in microcosm, this game highlighted both the best and worst aspects of football. I’m not going to argue that Arsenal were a formidable attacking force, who destroyed a shell-shocked Liverpool, only to be undone by their own profligacy in front of goal. This is patently untrue. Certainly, Arsenal were unlucky and had it not been for the referee and Nicholas Bendtner, then the result would have been more favourable for the North Londoners.

What I did take umbrage at though, was the harping of Andy Gray and the other commentators on what a “professional” job Liverpool had done. Absolute rubbish. As the two incidents mentioned above, Arsenal should and could have easily ran out 3-1 winners, the fact that they did not had nothing to do with professionalism on the part of Liverpool. The fact that in the second half Liverpool could not string more than 3 passes together, and still get praised, is something that would only happen in this country. A professional away job in Europe would be to keep the ball, silence the opposition crowd, stifle your opponents by keeping the ball away from them and look to break occasionally on the counter-attack. Liverpool did not do this at all, and it proved to highlight the perfect contrast in styles. Arsenal had their pretty patterns, Liverpool had their kick and run tactic. This contrast saw me firmly side with Arsenal.

As a Villa fan I will happily watch our long ball game week in, week out. However, as a neutral I’m not as accepting. I want to see beautiful football, I don’t even care if it doesn’t even result in goals, I just want to see simple pass and move football. Something, Arsenal, Manchester United, Barcelona etc are the best exponents of. Something Chelsea, Liverpool and Villa aren’t. Most neutrals are praying for a Barcelona v Man Utd Champions league semi-final. Most neutrals are dreading another Liverpool v Chelsea semi final. Thus, it is with this mindset that I will continue to watch football. Irked when a team as limited as Liverpool can come away from the Emirates with a point, despite an inept display totally bereft of footballing ability. Irked that, despite not having the best of games, Fabregas can totally overshadow Gerrard by controlling the entire pattern of play. Irked that the latter receives all the plaudits for a 10 second burst of outstanding play which, in truth, was the only time he found a Liverpool player in 90mins. Irked that the Beast can find parity with the Beauty on the football field. Bloody teacups.

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  • rob pullinger

    nice piece!!!!
    look forward to second leg????

  • Darren

    Summed up perfectly Matt, I thought the comment ‘Anti football’ you made the other day was so true of both the Chavs and the Scouse long ball brigade’.

    In the 2 Arsenal V Liverpool games this season, Liverpool have managed a total of 3 shots, been totally out played and yet remain undefeated, how can a team so dull, with no ambition be a major force in Europe?

    Arsenal do have themselves to blame in that we can’t hold on to a lead, in the game against Bolton and last night, Flamini was guilty of not just clearing the ball, its great that we try to play our way out of trouble but sometimes a simple Liverpool hoof is needed.

    Eboue needs shooting, he is yet to score this season and offers the side absolutely nothing on the wing. When Theo came on he terrified Jamie Horseshoe Carragher with his pace.

    This tie is very much alive, if there is any justice then Arsenal will progress. The longer Liverpool stay in the competition the more fans Man United will gain.

  • Martin Tibbetts

    In a game plagued by arrogance, the masters of its art (Wenger, Henry etc) are utterly outclassed by Andy Gray. Never has a bigger Colin Hunt graced television for so long. Why Sky stick with him is beyond me, and why people still take what he says seriously is also beyond me. How many more years will hairy Richard have to sit next to him nodding vigourously while thinking ‘you are so wrong’…? And why will nobody ever challenge his ridiculous views…?

  • rob pullinger

    The phrase “stonewall penalty” might have been invented for Dirk Kuyt’s blatant tug on Alexander Hleb as he raced into the area after 66 minutes.

    Dutch referee Pieter Vink, however, astonishingly spared Liverpool to leave Rafael Benitez’s side in pole position to reach the last four.

    Wenger was understandably frustrated, but when the dust settles on a tie Arsenal should have won, he will have seen enough to suggest that while it is advantage Liverpool, no-one should bring the curtain down on the Gunners’ hopes.

    It was not quite the game everyone predicted.

    Liverpool were compact, resolute and limited in their attacking ambition. Arsenal passed, sometimes into submission, and held most of the aces up front, but there was an unpredictability to the game that was not expected.

    There was an air of fragility about both rearguards at times, particularly Liverpool’s, but their in-built European resilience saw them survive a second period when possession was all Arsenal’s for lengthy spells.

    Liverpool fans rightly left The Emirates happier with a hard-fought draw and Kuyt’s crucial away goal in their locker. They will hope the traditional adrenalin-fuelled Anfield atmosphere will again be the key component for another famous victory next Tuesday.

    Benitez is the master architect of important European results, and all logic suggests he has the foundations in place for progress after another display of tactical discipline, aided by a massive slice of good fortune with the “penalty” incident.

    Liverpool have this quarter-final to lose now. They will not care about Arsenal’s hard luck stories or what might have been, but they will also be wary of one of the most potent counter-attacking sides in Europe.

    Steven Gerrard will drive even more from his very advanced midfield role at home, while Fernando Torres will be more potent at Anfield, where his goalscoring record is in stark contrast to that on his travels.

    But if there is a team built to get an away goal, even in the European fortress of Anfield, it is Arsenal.

    This is why this last eight encounter is still so delicately poised.

  • Jackie Emu

    Yes Arsenal were better and desrved a win…but get over it there’s another leg. I watched boro hoof the ball for the last 40 minutes against arsenal and nearly got away with a win…was i bothered we didn’t muster more than two second half shots? not really it was brilliant defending and actually enjoyable in it’s own right to watch. The point I’m making Liverpool defended well, and okay they rode their luck but as I’m always told as a middle of the road team…you make you’re own luck! Liverpool style in europe works…it ain’t pretty but which liverpool fan gives a monkey’s if they get another trophy. As a neutral observer from last night it was frustrating, liverpool spoilt it but so what they’re not there to entertain the neutral.
    I do agree with the above point though Andy Gray’s time is over he spoils it for me because I disagree with him so much.

  • Darren

    when u actually think about it, how many sides have won anything playing beautiful football?

    Brazil 82, in my mind the best side never to win the world cup, yes I remember it, it was when my eyes were opened to the world of international football from other cultures.
    (Matt, buy the video and watch this, you’ll love it)

    Holland in the 70’s, they invented the term total football and won nothing, they were to busy passing the other side to death that actually forgot to score goals.

    Arsenal 2007/2008, as above

    But then look at Denmark 92, what a side the Laudraup brothers, Elkier & co.

    Thats for another debate, but my point is, boring sides like Liverpool, Boro, the Chavs,& the German actually get results playing the game in a negative style, as Jackie Emu has rightly pointed out, they don’t care, and to coin a phrase which I invented

    ‘Read the Papers’!!!!

  • Magoldfish

    Hmmm. I’m sorry but this article is so comically one sided that it’s clearly been written for one reason only. Namely, to stir up debate, increase traffic to this site, and increase the numbers of people commenting on it.

    This is not journalism, it’s provocation. Anyone who reacts to it is just falling into ….. oh.

  • Darren

    ooooh Arc at her, Speaking of traffic Johny boy, if we wanted more traffic mate we’d do what you did and join a porn site for extra hits. Matt hates Liverpool, as simple as that

  • Matt Quinn

    Who is this joker, Mavgoldfish (if thats actually their real name?)-
    I think he just likes sanitised versions of football. People afraid to say what they think. People who are too easily swayed by the mass media like the Sun (who awarded Gerrard MOTM)- well, im sorry Mavgoldfish… if you want your football in nice, bite-sized chunks with no real opinion then stick to watching Alan Shearer on MOTD.

  • Darren

    Some people like to hide behind their glasses, they come from Hampshire own a Pony yet support Liverpool, I must admit though, they were the team to support in the 1980’s!

    There’s a term for those kind of fans.

    Puppet FC followers, go on the Puppets!!

  • rob pullinger

    well i love liverpool so take that……

    who cares what anyone says.. your all entitled to your individual opinions……

    second leg , well me for one cant wait, should be a thriller in whatever way you want look at it, game on, enough said??????

  • Darren

    true say Rob, love the one your with!

    Take that and party!

    Spread the love, Darius style!

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