If yesterday was supposed to be about how many goals Robin van Persie would plunder in his quest to enter the record books, nobody told Wayne Hennessey.
This morning all the headlines deservedly belong to the giant Welshman after a quite remarkable performance to repel the Arsenal onslaught.
Wenger reckons they’d have won this game 19 times out 20, but surely if our goalkeeper had played this well in all of those matches Professor Football should rethink his figures?
Wayne will deservedly scoop all the plaudits, but the rest of the team also warrant a substantial slab of credit too.
Maintaining a shape, defending your 18-yard box and not allowing such slinky opposition to simply walk the ball in is a tough ask, particularly away from home. That type of stubborn discipline often gets overlooked, but it’s a skill in itself.
By the end, Arsenal were effectively playing into our hands by throwing crosses into the box for the likes of Berra and Johnson to gobble up, which is testament to the work we’d done up to that point.
The center of midfield, so often criticised for being wide open were phenomenal defensively. Henry made a string of fine interceptions and tackles to cut out killer passes, whilst Milijas once again dispelled the myth that he’s lazy when the opposition have the ball.
To see the Serbian dismissed with 20 minutes to go was both cruel and unjust. Quite what the referee saw in the tackle I’ll never know, but the game had certainly been bubbling towards a flash point for a while. To me the man in the middle simply failed to keep tempers in check.
Fortunately, it didn’t cost us and the injustice only served to make point gained all the more satisfying, not least when you consider we’d lost to Arsenal in all 6 of our previous Premier League meetings.
Speaking of satisfaction, what about another goal for Fletch? His superb reaction header just before half-time means he’s now scored goals at Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates this season – not too shabby when you consider he probably only had one decent chance in all of those games.
Once again the Scot was largely anonymous, left isolated by the formation and dominance of the home side, but yet he still managed to gobble up the only half chance that came his way to level the scores.
Keeping him fit will likely be the difference between survival and relegation.
A word too for Roger Johnson. There were moments where he wobbled, particularly in the first half, but as the game wore on his influence grew and the skipper made vital blocks and clearances to keep the scores level. That’s what we paid the money for.
Finally, well done Anthony Forde.
The youngster slotted in seamlessly down the right, looked neat and tidy on the ball and didn’t put a foot wrong throughout. He also looked confident and skilful in possession so I’ll look forward to seeing what he can do against lesser opposition.
Indeed it was wholly appropriate that Mick finally gave youth a chance on the big stage, on a day that unquestionably belonged to another academy graduate.