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Post Match Review

Three Things We Learned: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; Post-Match Reaction to Arsenal v Liverpool

Sigh. It’s another start to a week after a season opener you’d just as soon as forget. It didn’t need to be but it was. As a supporter and a writer, these are matches you just don’t even want to dissect because you can point to so many instances of poor play in the second half that writing it up makes no sense. That and it infuriates me to no end.

But we must muddle on through as they say. So here is our first 3 Things We Learned for the new season.

Alexis Sanchez up top does not work

Without any true striker available to Arsenal, Arsene resorted to placing Alexis Sanchez up top as the striker. Let’s be blunt – it didn’t work. Not once, not at all.

It was woefully evident. He had 12 passes all game and had no influence on the match at all. The total “badness” of it was made worse when for some inept reason we tried to play him the ball as some sort of target man.

That tactic worked last season with Giroud who is a bona fide target man. He has the strength and ability to do it and do it well. It’s why it worked. Alexis is a skill player. He is better running at players and taking them on around the 18 and beating them 1v1 for that shot.

Yes, everyone knows he is going to cut in from that left side, skirt along the 18 and look for the far corner shot. The challenge is with his ability with the ball at his feet for the defenders to stop him. By placing Alexis up top we’ve essentially negated the best part of his game.

A Tale of Two Halves

I was completely surprised by the first half performance. It was as solid as you could expect from Arsenal, especially given the noted deficiencies.

When Liverpool had the ball in the first half, Arsenal played compact in their own end. Every time, I looked there were two banks of 4 with about 5 to 6 yards between the midfield and back 4. This effort provided the necessary cover from the DMs to the inexperienced CB pairing. It also effectively made it impossible for Liverpool to play between the lines. No matter where the man with the ball looked a Liverpool player whether looking to run against the back 4 or MF was covered with no space to move.

Normally this resulted in Liverpool playing the ball back and allowing the team to press Liverpool deep in their own zone. Almost all of Liverpool’s first half chances came from a bad pass in the first half. None were truly created from open play (I didn’t keep stats so it’s likely one or two did.)

In the second half this all changed. At 1-1 for whatever reason we opted to actually chase the game. We lost our shape defensively and we started seeing the gap between the MF and back 4 expand to about 10+ yards. Both Elneny and Coquelin were now too far forward and not coming back to defend as effectively. In fact it looked early on that Elneny was gassed and couldn’t get back quick enough.

That combined with the FBs – especially Bellerin caught too far forward opened up the field for Liverpool to play. Now they were able to move the ball and attack the back line. And while CBs are the last line of defense, they lost the cover they had which allowed them to keep their games simple. When they were attacked 1v1 errors occurred.

Truth be told while people were quick to blame the inexperience of Chambers and Holding, all of the 4 defenders had issues. I don’t get how essentially all the defenders could let their attackers get inside of them and have the advantage to goal. Positionally we were just awful when the attack broke into the 18.

Pre-Season preparations raise questions

There are many aspects to a pre-season but a big part of that is fitness and preparation. Suffice it to say we didn’t look fit enough or prepared enough to last the whole match. Wenger even commented post match that we weren’t physically ready.

Can I ask 1 question? WHY THE FUCK NOT?

Of the starters on the pitch, only Ramsey and Cech had summer tournament obligations. Everyone else except Holding who was at Bolton had the benefits of a full pre-season. So how could fitness be an issue?

In the last 7 seasons Arsenal have only won 1 of their season openers. Worse still in their last 4 they’ve lost 3 of the 4. It should be noted that this run also coincides with the more expanded commercial tours. Commercial tours that Wenger didn’t really want to do. His preference was to train in Austria or some place like that.

What it seems to me is that Arsenal have yet to understand how to incorporate that commercial venture into their training and prepare effectively. It hasn’t gotten them on the right foot for any season in recent memory and while it’s purely a hypothesis, you could argue that it may be having an impact on how Arsenal prepare for the season.

Yes, other teams do the tours as well but it doesn’t seem to effect them. Maybe their clubs and managers and better prepared on how to do the double duty of commercial obligations and pre-season readiness. It’s looking like, Arsenal do not.

Extra Time

Courtesy of my good friend @jcav90. I’ll let her tweets speak for themselves.

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