In a game which promised much, it was the defenders who ultimately came out on top as Premier League giants Arsenal and Liverpool played out an enjoyable goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium.
With the chances on offer for both sides, one could ask how on earth the game remained goalless, although instead of criticising the strikers, both defences deserve credit for their work out of possession.
Arsenal and Liverpool’s back-fours were wonderfully marshalled by defensive midfielders Francis Coquelin and Lucas Leiva, whose future at Anfield is still rather uncertain.
Against Arsenal, the former Gremio man was superb in the tackle and covered plenty of ground in tracking the hosts’ attacking players – but how did he compare with his opposite number Coquelin?
|Tackles||Interceptions||Effective Clearances||Def Duels Won||Ball Recoveries||Touches||Accurate Passes||Mins Played|
Well, as per the table provided by Opta Stats, Lucas put in a superb display but he actually comes out second best to Coquelin in as many as six key categories.
Despite the hosts dominating possession, Arsenal’s French defensive midfielder was called into action a number of times to thwart the visitors’ counterattacks and performed exceptionally well.
He recorded five tackles, six interceptions, two effective clearances, eight defensive duel winners and a whopping 15 ball recoveries before being substituted ten minutes from time.
Many say that the Gunners can’t win the Premier League title without strengthening their midfield. But if, and it’s a big if, Coquelin remains fit and disciplined throughout the season, they may still have a shot.
The former Charlton Athletic loan star bailed his side out on a number of occasions on Monday, especially in a first half littered with loose passes out from the back with Calum Chambers the biggest culprit.