THREE THINGS LEARNED FROM ARSENAL VS LIVERPOOL
Arsenal football club has been viewed through the lens of so called “banter”, unable to stick to principles and vulnerable to opportunists and vultures. The reputation of the club has been on a downturn for sometime, maybe before it was openly said and accepted by Arsenal fans. One thing yesterday’s result (More so performance) will do is build upon and repair the image of the football club. Arsenal lost 2-0 at home in front of a raucous emirates stadium to a Liverpool side who look like they could win it all this year. However, the Merseysiders didn’t have it all their own way, especially in that first half. Here are my three key takeaways from the match:
Precision is paramount
Liverpool are a well oiled machine. Everything they did yesterday was with clinical precision. Even during the period that the Gunners were threatening to make it an uncomfortable night, Trent Alexander Arnold (incredible talent) was able to play a defence splitting pass over the top, which begged Mane to put the finishing touches to. Compare that with the dilly dallying that accompanied Lacazette when he had the chance to shoot, Martin Odegaard’s lack of conviction in front of the towering Allisson, or even Martinelli’s curled shot just past the post. It would be harsh to suggest that this was anything to do with a lack of quality. It was all about certainty.
Take a look at Liverpool’s first goal. The ball in there from Thiago, the power on the shot from Diogo Jota, and he is one of the younger forwards (25) they employ. Firmino (another Arsenal nemesis) made sure of the win with the second goal and he has been a thorn in the side of Arsenal for a long time. Liverpool didn’t stutter but with more experience of these match situations, the North Londoners can be confident their forward players will be able to pick up similar habits.
Physicality and Power
Virgil Van Dijk, Joel Matip, Fabinho. All of these players are over 6 foot. They squeeze and dominate and ensure Liverpool can hold an aggressive high line consistently throughout a game. Allisson Becker’s 1v1 ability and sweeper keeper powers behind them makes it incredibly formidable.
The centre back pairing of Gabriel and Ben White have a long way to go before they match up to this, they performed well to ensure the Arsenal structure remained. In my previous writing after the Man City game, I noted the position that Thomas Partey was taking up was reminiscent of Fernandinho in the “6” role at Man City, his influence was priceless in all phases of play.
The job that is not just for the Summer window but others gong forward is to add to the cohort of players that can deal with the physical demands of being a top Premier league outfit.
Champions league quality gap
2017 was the last time that Arsenal played in the top European competition. The Champions league. Remember their last few years in that competition? I’ll give you a clue…Bayern, Barca, Bayern, Barca…
There is still a long way to go this season, and the right thing to do is to take every game as it comes. However, if the Gunners make the champions league they must be armed with what it takes to thrive in the competition.
The Modern football structure now exists at the club. The quality gap must now be reinforced to ensure that those embarrassing two-legged scorelines are a thing of the past. Liverpool gave an insight into what level Europe’s elite are currently operating at.