Sunday, 21 August 2011

Arsenal v Liverpool Post Match Analysis

The new season’s first meeting between two top sides produced a mixed encounter of at times fantastic passages of play combined with scrappy and physical moments. Liverpool played Arsenal away at the Emirates stadium in a tight match between the two sides. Arsenal had to deal with suspensions to Alex Song and Gervinho as well as injuries to key players like Jack Wilshere. Liverpool on the other hand were still introducing four new players into the side and had to deal without Suarez for most of the match.

Honours were even for the most part with only Liverpool really looking to threaten the score, it took Emmanuel Frimpong being sent off in the 70th minute and the introduction of Suarez and Meireles before the score line was changed. Even then it took a freak own goal from Aaron Ramsey to get Liverpool started before Suarez killed the game off.

Pass and Move is the Liverpool Groove

Both sides had changes to their starting XI due to differing reasons. Suspensions for Arsenal saw Emmanuel Frimpong enter the side alongside Ramsey and Nasri in midfield, whilst new boy Carl Jenkinson played at right-back as Bacary Sagna was moved across to left-back. An early injury to Laurent Koscielny meant another new boy, Ignasi Miquel stepped into Arsenal’s standard 4-3-3 formation.

Liverpool only made two changes in comparison, switching Martin Kelly in for John Flanagan after his mistake at Sunderland and Dirk Kuyt started over Suarez for fitness reasons, with Liverpool matching Arsenal in a 4-3-3 formation with Carroll as the target man up front.

With Arsenal struggling for experience in the midfield, the Liverpool trio of Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva and Charlie Adam were able to knock the ball round with ease but played a much more direct game to Arsenal, getting the ball to the flanks quickly for Downing and Kuyt to cross into Carroll. This proved somewhat effective for Liverpool especially down their left flank, with the inexperienced Jenkinson finding it difficult to deal with the skill of Downing and the pace of Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique. Both swung in good crosses, first for Carroll who was denied by Wojciech Szczęsny, and the second for Henderson who couldn’t direct it away from the Arsenal Keeper. At times Liverpool were superb with the ball and even made Arsenal look second best at the Emirates

When Arsenal had the ball it was left to Nasri to be the team’s only real driving force, testing Liverpool’s Pepe Reina from afar several times and linking up with Arsharvin effectively. However Liverpool’s pressing was particularly effective, with Lucas continuing to break up the attack in midfield and having to deal with a personal battle with Emmanuel Frimpong all match. Arsenal’s lack of experience at the back and in the central midfield meant they struggled to create fluidity at the Emirates and only really tested Liverpool with long distance efforts.

Key Moment

With the deadlock going into the second half a 0-0 could have been likely, but the 70th minute proved to be the changing point in the game for Liverpool.

With Emmanuel Frimpong’s challenge on Lucas blown for a foul he saw a second yellow and Luis Suarez was introduced for Carroll whilst Raul Meireles came on for Kuyt. Until this point Liverpool had been one dimensional but with Suarez and Meireles Liverpool had some much needed creativity and flair to the side and it only took 8 minutes with the two on the pith before they helped to create the Ramsey own goal.

With Arsenal a man down and a goal down, they seemed lost. Frimpong had been a unit in midfield, winning the ball back and driving the team forward whilst marshalling the defence from a defensive midfield position. For Liverpool’s second goal the midfield advantage took the game away from Arsenal as Liverpool linked up outside Arsenal’s 18 yard box to create a wonderful move that left Suarez with an easy tap in to secure the 3 points.

Full Time

Whilst there is an argument that Liverpool’s goals were offside, sometimes in football you need a bit of luck. Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger luck hasn’t been on his side recently and a result like this against Liverpool will hurt the Gunners, particularly when everyone’s tipping Liverpool to squeeze Arsenal out of the top four. Whilst Liverpool were fortuitous with the result, they had at times dominated the game and without Frimpong Arsenal couldn’t cope as Liverpool bolstered their attacking options. Without Suarez’s creativity there is an argument to suggest that Carroll on his own hasn’t got the technical ability needed to break teams like Arsenal down, but early on he looked busy against Arsenal and it might take time before Liverpool and Carroll adapt to a style that suits both the player and the team.

It must be said that this was the opportune moment to play Arsenal with all the problems they have in their first team squad. As a result Kenny picked a strong team and gave himself even better options on the bench which paid off when the perfect moment arrived.

Some people in the media have criticised the performances of both teams but in my opinion Liverpool looked confident throughout the game and played slightly better throughout the match. Sometimes you have to create your own luck in life and that’s certainly what Liverpool did against Arsenal at the Emirates.

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