Liverpool: Attack was everywhere, creativity in top supply but it was all undermined by terrible refereeing..
Right. Let's cut to the chase shall we?
Let's ask the kind of question that gets managers into trouble if they ask it. Bear in mind that this is only a question, I'm making no accusations (although you may be able to work out my own answer fairly quickly)
Howard Webb. Incompetent or biased?
'Our top referee', simultaneously a description used by those that have never watched him at work and a damning indictment if the paucity of ability of all other English referees, has once again presided over a Liverpool game. Once again Liverpool have lost. Once again there has been a controversial decision made by the man in the middle.
These things are of course thoroughly unrelated. There is no hint of agenda here. Just as there is no truth in the accusation that Webb was inclined to be favourable to Ferguson's Manchester United. To prove this fact he gave a penalty against United at Old Trafford this season. What's that? Fergie's gone? It was actually David Moyes' United side that he presented that penalty to? Are we saying that Webb isn't as scared of Moyes as he was of old red nose?
You do make some terrible accusations. Shame on you all.
At the Emirates, in a match that Liverpool were trailing by two goals (a first half Oxlade-Chamberlain drive after some penalty area pinballing and a fine second half Podolski finish after the type of counter attack that we used to demolish the gunners a week ago) Mr Webb actually managed to award Liverpool a penalty for a clear trip on Luis Suarez that reduced the deficit.
Well done Mr Webb. What wonderful work to actually manage to fulfil your role accurately.
Unfortunately the defining moment of the match was the blatant body check on Luis Suarez by 'the Ox' that followed five minutes later. As blatant penalty as you could very wish to see. A penalty that, at a time when Liverpool were utterly dominant would have likely levelled the score and may even have been the catalyst for another magical comeback.
Webb stood at the edge of the box, the clearest view of any man in the stadium, and waved his index finger almost in admonishment that anybody would have the temerity to present him with such an obvious decision to make.
As ever when Webb is present, the game was refereed based on his ego, his arrogance, his deep seated need to be at the centre of any story and with the sure knowledge that at no point would he ever have to explain his calamitous inability to be correct in his call.
And yes, for the Arsenal fans currently screaming at the screen (and surely you would be better suited reading the articles by your own fans? They will have far happier narratives) Steven Gerrard could - and probably should - have walked for a second yellow late in the match. That he didn't can be attributed to one thing and one thing only; Howard Webb knew exactly how wrong his penalty decision had been and now no longer possessed the nerve to make any decisions that could be construed as in the slightest way contentious.
In terms of football then; Liverpool dominated early exchanges with Arsenal scoring their first against the run of play and then exerting control of the game for some time. Liverpool started the second half with renewed intent and could have had their merited equaliser with only minutes gone; sons typical Suarez magic denied by Fabiansky's outstretched foot. Fine work from the opposition keeper who was in excellent form throughout the afternoon, this moment crucial as the breakaway that followed doubled Arsenal's lead.
There can be no complaints about Liverpool's response. Attack was everything, creativity and endeavour were everywhere. With a referee fit to officiate at this level the endeavour may have been worthwhile.
There will be those who will point toward spurned chances and wasted opportunity. Any team can suffer those issues in any match, the key is how they deal with those issues, how they surmount them. The one thing that no team can possibly surmount is a referee who is once again determined that he will not give a team a decision that any impartial observer can see is correct, a referee who has a long history of such decisions in matches involving one specific team.
So there are two questions to ask;
To the general reader - Howard Webb; biased or simply incompetent?
And to the FA (who would never lower themselves to consider the questions of fans) - how many obvious 'mistakes' do we have to suffer before Howard Webb is no longer allowed to take charge of Liverpool matches?
Follow Ian on Twitter, @fish2310