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Captain’s genius unable to stem Arsenal advance

The delirious grin of last Tuesday night had twisted into a dejected grimace; Steven Gerrard was not enjoying buy canada goose jacket edmonton himself. Arsenal had opened a two-goal lead with all the ease of opening a bottle of wine, and the champagne-soaked joy of Liverpool’s Champions buy canada goose parka ottawa League semi-final win over Chelsea seemed a distant memory.

Liverpool’s captain, as ever, did his utmost to drag his team single-handedly through this match, scoring the goal that briefly reawakened the prospect of a top-four finish. But once more, Gerrard’s best efforts were futile. He must be haunted that that could be the case again in the Champions League final; even if Liverpool win it, their place in next season’s competition could be in the hands of buy canada goose jacket in canada the lawyers.

“We have to win the cup, then maybe someone will say to Liverpool OK,” said Rafael Benítez in reference to his side’s Champions League uncertainty. Yet Liverpool are in danger of slipping to seventh place for the season’s end: can that possibly satisfy Gerrard, who Chelsea remain so keen to recruit?

The talk is that lifting a European Cup would prove ample recompense for spending next season in the Uefa Cup, but much must improve if Liverpool are to have any hope of challenging for the domestic title next season, which is Gerrard’s desire. “We haven’t played well away,” said Benítez. “Last season we were drawing games and this season we have lost them.”

There is another rub. Here, for the 12th time in 14 attempts this season, Liverpool failed to record a win after a European night. “The statistics are there for analysing,” conceded Benítez.

For Arsenal, the analysis canada goose coat 1000 calorie would focus on a six-match period between October and December in which 12 points were dropped. Overall, though, their self-assessment would be positive, since buy canada goose jacket online cheap a point against Everton or Birmingham would secure them second place in the Premiership and automatic Champions League qualification.

“After first place, amazon canada goose parka second is the most important,” quipped Arsène Wenger. “This is something very positive. Ashley Cole is still young, Kolo Touré is 23, Phillippe Senderos is 20, Cesc Fábregas 18 – they are all young boys.”

Whether all will be with Wenger next season is unclear, however. A Premier League hearing will only take place four months after Chelsea surreptitiously met Cole in a London hotel. “International black canada goose parka war is quicker to sort out,” said Wenger about the drawn-out disciplinary process. “We have a contract with Ashley until 2007, talks can go on until 2007 if we need them to. But we need to talk to Ashley’s agent and he is preparing his case.”

Wenger’s own case for convincing Cole to best ideas about canada goose outlet on pinterest stay at Arsenal was persuasively stated on the canada goose coat 1000 bulbs garland pitch. Patrick Vieira was looking a particular threat and one driving run, pivoted by Fabregas’s wall pass, saw him advance to the edge of Liverpool’s box. Dietmar Hamann 88 was not prepared to let him pass and he brutally scythed Vieira down 20 yards out.

Robert Pires stepped up to what would have been Thierry Henry’s plate and, with all the aplomb of his injured team-mate, curled his shot into the vast swath of net unguarded by Jerzy Dudek in the Liverpool goal.

Soon it was two. Fábregas released Jose Antonio Reyes who was fortunate to see Jamie Carragher slip over, clearing his path. It was all the space the Spaniard needed and he burst into the box, trailing three Liverpool shirts behind him, before slotting his shot between Dudek’s legs for the critical second.

Liverpool owed their goal to a free-kick that should never have been, Xabi Alonso collapsing under the weakest of contact from Reyes. Hamann played it short to Gerrard and his firmly struck effort ricocheted off the onrushing Fabregas’s foot and beyond Jens Lehmann.

Gerrard’s celebrations were muted, though Liverpool’s refrain was not. Benítez, who often seems to be communicating his touchline messages through the medium of interpretive dance, gesticulated ever more frantically in urging his side onwards and Sami Hyypia, Gerrard and Luis García buy canada goose jacket ebay all came close.

But the last word belonged to Fabregas. Lauren’s ball was slipped to him via Dennis Bergkamp’s delicate touch and he thumped his finish home to ensure Arsenal would finish the day 22 points clear of Liverpool.

The gulf to Chelsea is 36. Benítez must hope that Gerrard does not analyse those statistics.

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