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Arsenal 1 Liverpool FC 0 - Dominic King on Arsene Wenger's hoodoo over Rafa Benitez continues
Published : 11 Feb 2010 05:00:00Rss feed
LIFE'S great certainties are death and taxes but perhaps the time has come to add another constant to that list. After another fruitless, frustrating trip to the Emirates Stadium, Rafa Benitez must surely be wondering whether the hoodoo Arsene Wenger has over him in London will ever end. Bursting with determination and pushing themselves to the physical limit to maintain a seven-match unbeaten run, a sense of injustice infuses Liverpool's squad today and it is easy to see why that is so. They have arguably never had better prospects of beating Arsenal on enemy territory since Titi Camara's winner in February 2000 than this but a series of fine details - and a referee's error - prevented them turning promise into points. Had David Ngog shown great composure and had Jamie Carragher not tweaked his groin at a vital moment, Liverpool would have been able to protect a one-goal lead; as it was, Ngog missed, Carragher went off and Arsenal took full advantage. Yet worse of all was the fact Howard Webb refused to point to the spot in the dying seconds when a Steven Gerrard free-kick was handled by Cesc Fabregas; that the Arsenal skipper later admitted he had committed a crime rubbed salt in open wounds. What a pity. Giving the impression once again that the shoots of recovery are continuing to grow with a dogged display, the Reds deserved so much more; as it is, they must start to build all over again. If the opening to the Merseyside derby had those spectators who were close to the action wincing, due to the ferocity of certain challenges, the start to this contest was a much more reserved affair, befitting the subdued atmosphere in the stadium. Highbury, of course, was known as the 'The Library' and it appears that nearly four years after moving into this sparkling arena, the locals are still no nearer to creating an intimidating welcome for visitors. Not that Liverpool complained. Far from it. Anxious to build on their impressive recent run of form, but mindful of the fact they had contested a war of attrition four days earlier, the gentle opening suited them.