There was a lot to take out of Arsenal’s win over Liverpool – but from a Liverpool perspective, it does show they have a long way to go before dreams of ending an incredibly long wait for a league title – and that they have a lot of hard work ahead of them if they are to get into the Champions League for next season.
Like all big games, the midfield battle had a huge bearing on the outcome of the game – and Liverpool rightly went with a midfield three that had won comprehensively the previous weekend. The quality of opposition differed somewhat, but a midfield made up of Steven Gerrard, Lucas and Jordan Henderson could have won the battle.
But Arsenal had lots of energy in the middle of the park, their movement appeared too much as Liverpool looked focused on their shape off the ball, aware that someone being out of position could allow for Arsenal opportunities.
And on the counter-attack, Liverpool looked leggy. Arsenal however looked sharp, crisp and it was something Liverpool failed to deal with, whilst Mikel Arteta was allowed to put in a disciplined performance in a deeper role.
One thing that was distinctly lacking was bite from both Lucas and Gerrard – there was even a comical moment during Saturday evening’s game when Gerrard ducked out of a tackle with Aaron Ramsey and turned around to Kolo Toure, signalling for the Ivorian defender to get stuck in a bit more. Toure seemed to be one of very few Liverpool players trying to disrupt the flow of the home side – and it is something you have to do if you want to get the better of Arsenal.
Some also pointed at the lack of creativity in the middle of the park on that day – but Liverpool did have some chances, especially in the second half, after a change of system – though with Liverpool’s hand forced given they were chasing the game they were exposed at the back.
Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky all provided energy in abundance that Lucas and Gerrard couldn’t seem to match or disrupt – maybe it is something Brendan Rodgers will consider in a couple of months’ time going into the transfer market.
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