Red All Over The Land – Issue 196Posted: February 6, 2014
Oh what a night it was at our last home game – any win against the blue half of the city is to be savoured but a 4-0 drubbing in what was described as the ‘most important derby in 30 years’ was much more than we had hoped for. And it could have been more. At the time of going to press we don’t know the WBA result but let’s hope we are going into today’s first of two games V Arsenal in a week in good nick.
There does seem to be a trend with the reds taking on the Gunners in different competitions so close together. As recent as April 2008, the two clubs clashed three times within a week, a league encounter sandwiched between two Champions league quarter-final ties (remember that competition). It was a trilogy in which Liverpool came out unbeaten. The Champions League tie at the Emirates ended all square. A scorer of many important goals for the reds, Dirk Kuyt cancelled out Adeboyer’s opener thus leaving it all to play for in the second leg the following week. In the meantime the two sides had to play a league encounter the following Saturday morning – Once more it finished level, an impressive Liverpool which included Damien Plessis making his debut took the lead through Peter Crouch with Nicholas Bendtner grabbing a equaliser as thoughts turned to the next game of the trilogy at Anfield – an unforgettable evening.
In a game that ebbed and flowed, the old stadium rocked from start to finish, heck, I didn’t get to sit down and I was in the Anfield Road end, you know it’s special when that happens. All the drama came late in the game, after both sides traded goals in the first half, Fernando Torres looked to have put Liverpool through only for Adebayor to put the Londoners ahead with 6 minutes remaining. We certainly had some roller-coaster times under Rafa and you just knew we could come back, and we did two minutes later. Torres who had tortured the hapless Senderos all night, drew a foul and once more Steven Gerrard saved the day with a faultless spot-kick to put the reds in control even though the game was still in the balance. The crowd could relax just minutes later when Ryan Babel was given the freedom of the Arsenal half to race through and finish the job off. Ring of Fire didn’t stop for ages that night as the reds spilled out onto the surrounding streets dreaming of another tilt at Chelsea in the semi-final of the Champions League. Good times, no, great times.
If we had the upper hand in 2008 it perhaps was a case of revenge for what happened to the redmen two years earlier. This time we were paired against each other in the two domestic cup competitions. The League Cup 5th round tie at Anfield in December was called off due to heavy fog, now it was to be re-fixed just three days after the reds would open their FA Cup defence, also against the Gunners.
The FA Cup clash would be known as ‘Truth Day’, the Reclaim the Kop group organised a mosaic as 12,000 fans in the Kop were given cards to hold up which spelt out the words “The Truth”. It would be a timely reminder to those in power that the fight for justice would not go away. With the mosaic visible while Liverpool supporters chanted “Justice for the 96” for six minutes it was a breath-taking sight that had the desired effect in highlighting once more the long awaited fight for Justice.
The match itself was dominated by the visitors who inspired by Thierry Henry ran out 3-1 winners as both sides locked horns in the League Cup tie three days later. The League Cup match was to be a game to forget for the redmen and one to remember for Arsenal frontman Julio Baptista who netted four times as both sides fielded somewhat understrength teams. A 6-3 reverse was the worst home defeat in 76 years and leaving Anfield that night we were sure we would never see another opposition player score 4 goals against us again, and certainly not an Arsenal player, wishful thinking!
Playing each other three times in a week in 2008 may seem a lot, but back in 1980, the two sides traded blows an incredible five times over a three week period. Both sides had reached the semi-final of the FA Cup and after a scoreless draw at Hillsborough the two met again four days later at Villa Park. No pens in those days. A goal apiece from David Fairclough and Alan Sunderland would not settle the tie – as both sides headed to Anfield for a league clash just a few days later. Predictably enough, the game finished all square with Liverpool remaining in top spot in the race for league honours, just a point ahead of closest rivals Manchester United.
The two clubs had a well-deserved break from each other for a whole nine days before their second replay. With the added bonus of playing second division side West Ham in the final, Liverpool were eyeing up a first League and Cup double. In a dramatic finale at Villa Park Kenny Dalglish popped up on 90 minutes to cancel out a first minute strike from the previous year’s cup final hero, Alan Sunderland. Extra-time wouldn’t separate the two and just three days later at the unusual semi-final venue of Highfield Road Coventry, Brian Talbot scored the only goal of the game to send the Gunners into the final against West Ham, a game they lost 1-0. For Liverpool, they only had to wait another two days to pick up the championship once more.
So onwards to the next installment in the history of these great two clubs. I’m sure the majority of the red army that travelled to Bournemouth were counting the cost and praying for a home tie when who else but Arsenal away gets pulled out of the hat. Not only that, it now means two trips to the capital for the reds within a few days with the league clash against Fulham taking place on the 12th Feb. Quite the expense and I’m sure most can’t afford to attend the two games. After the possibility that ticket prices may hit £93, the pressure for common sense was applied by Jay McKenna and the Spirit of Shankly. The game has now been labelled a CAT B game by Arsenal, thus reducing ticket prices to £54, well done to all involved. Still far too much money for any football match, but small steps.
So it’s been a great week at the time of writing. Libpool Libpool top of the league, Libpool top of the league. Well commercial league at any rate. New sponsorship deals with Dunkin’ Donuts, Vauxhall and most recently the Indonesian firm Garuda Airline who will sponsor the clubs training gear. With the teams above dropping points recently, perhaps we can even dream of snatching the 3rd Champions League spot. After today’s game we might well have a better idea on whether it’ll be the Champions League Logo or the Europa League badge that will appear on next seasons kit.