In the larger scale things walking out of a place like Anfield with a point should be considered a good thing. What’s not good is the way in which we sat back in the end and invited the equalizing goal. With that being said we look back at the Three Things We Learned from last night’s league tie.
The FLAM RAM midfield duo doesn’t work
While Francis Coquelin has been out, Mathieu Flamini has been deputized in the defensive midfielder role and if truth be told he hasn’t done that bad. The additional loss of Santi Cazorla has forced Arsene Wenger to put Aaron Ramsey into the CM role alongside Flamini.
Now the positive of this change is that it puts Ramsey in his preferred midfield role. The fact that Aaron Ramsey is starting to score is a testament to this change. He’s seeing more of the ball and he is able to make those runs he did in the season where he took off.
However, it leaves a problem as was clearly evidenced last night. With Ramsey getting forward it gave Arsenal multiple attacking options deep in Liverpool’s final third. However, when Liverpool won the ball it left a gaping hole the size of the Grand Canyon for Liverpool to operate through and with which they were able to apply attacking pressure on Arsenal.
Therein lies the problem with the FLAM RAM Axis. Neither are doing poorly but Aaron Ramsey doesn’t have the discipline of Santi Cazorla to sit back and aid in clogging up the midfield. Santi was happy sitting deep serving both a defensive role and acting as the transition out from defense to attack. This is not Aaron’s game and its something he’s not good at.
Ramsey’s desire to get forward leaves Flamini terribly exposed. Not because can’t clog up play but if he’s overrun he simply doesn’t have the mobility to cover the angles.
It will be interesting to see moving forward if as new signing Elneny integrates into the side whether Wenger rotates out Flamini or moves Ramsey out wide in place of a struggling Walcott. Either way he has to break up the FLAM RAM axis if he plans to employ the sitting deep tactic against the more skillful opposition.
Olivier Giroud deserves our adoration
He is still for some odd reason a player who divides so much opinion but last night he continued to show why he is more than capable of leading this team to the title.
In our Match Preview we highlighted the battle between Giroud and Liverpool centrebacks. He didn’t let us down in that battle. He outmuscled and outworked Toure and Sakho causing them all kinds of trouble.
His first goal a near post goal that ricocheted off of Mingolet’s groin was all down to his trademark diagonal run and getting in front of his defender. His second, was telegraphed. You knew that one on one with a defender at his back he is going to like his chances – he receives the ball at his feet, gets strong on the ball and cranks his body to score a pure striker’s goal.
Giroud divides opinion because of a few things some warranted some not. Yes, he does miss some easy ones but so did some of the greatest names in the game. Its how you handle those misses. And it’s clear the psychological part of the game is big to the Frenchman. When he’s down – he’s down and out. But when you challenge him – he rises to the occasion. He clearly thrives off of people challenging his ability and that’s when he is at his best.
Additionally, he’s not a speedster or someone like Sergio Aguero. I use Kun as the example because he is often the name people throw out there as the type of player Arsenal need to replace Giroud with. People ignore the fact that they are two different types of players. And they play two different roles within their team and excel at those roles.
Giroud does exactly what he is called on to do within the system of play we operate in. Add to that he has been aggressive in hounding out the ball defensively. He doesn’t always win it but you don’t have to. What he is required to do defensively is apply pressure and force an error which he is prone to doing.
Olivier Giroud now has 19 goals in all competitions for Arsenal. 12 alone in the Premier League. He has already surpassed 50 league goals for the side. He has consistently scored double digit goals since his debut for Arsenal. All that given his cold spells.
With the absence of Sanchez’s energy and goal threat someone had to step up and it’s been Olivier Giroud. If Arsenal are going to win the title they are going to do so on the back of Olivier Giroud hits and misses.
It Wasn’t Wenger’s Subs, It was Sitting Deep
Post-match there was a lot of criticism for Wenger making the subs he did the problem was less to do with the subs then it was with sitting back deep and inviting the pressure.
When we sat deeper and deeper in our own end the equalizer seemed inevitable. We just weren’t doing anything to retain the ball and move it into the Liverpool half of the field. We kicked the ball away only for it to find Liverpool players. Without looking for an easy outlet to get the ball forward we invited the constant pressure at the end on ourselves.
Sure, I would have rather seen Chambers coming in instead of Arteta and someone – anyone other than Ox come on but the fact is if we’re all going to sit back it doesn’t matter who you bring in. You’re risking it by inviting pressure at the end.
Sometimes it’s hard to find even three things to write about post-match. Sometimes, like this there are a few others we could’ve gone with like:
- Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s further slide down the depth chart
- Joel Campbell’s bulldog efforts making him hard to drop as a starter
- Mikel Arteta vs Calum Chambers who was the right sub
- Liverpool v Arsenal has been an epic fixture and last night delivered on that
- Premier League title race is on and exciting