Miscellanous

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool – Disjointed Reds Stutter

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

By Jonathan Carroll

It was built up as a test of Liverpool’s title credentials. In reality it was a  look to see if the team Brendan Rodgers has built so far is capable of competing with a proven top four team. It was a result that disappointed many associated with the Merseyside club but the reds never got going at the Emirates Stadium.

Santi Cazorla volleyed home the first after his header hit the post and Aaron Ramsey scored a spectacular second when given time and space to measure his effort. Sandwiched in between was a dour decision by Martin Atkinson to halt a quick free kick by Luis Suarez. The passage of play ended up with Jordan Henderson scoring from a Daniel Sturridge cross. Atkinson booked Bacary Sagna for the previous foul on Suarez and further proved that he is prehistoric in his approach to the modern game.

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Arsene Wenger spent heavily to bring in Mesut Ozil and Oliver Giroud has hit the form he once showed at Montpellier. Arsenal are a team on top form. Rodgers lost Glen Johnson from his starting line up through illness allowing youngster John Flanagan to get the nod. The youngster should be happy with his performance as he showed a willingness to attack and followed his defensive responsibilities. The same cannot be said for some higher profile players in the team.

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Lucas Leiva had proven many people wrong with his performances after being doubted early on in his Anfield career. The Brazilians pairing with Steven Gerrard is however too stagnant. Gerrard lacks the mobility he once possessed and Lucas is also quite limited in how explosive he can be navigating the trenches of a midfield.. Javier Mascherano and Lucas worked well together while playing under Rafa Benitez. Lucas sat and Mascherano ran like a rabid dog harassing the player in possession. The Liverpool midfield now just “sits”. Mikel Arteta showed how a midfielder should play as Arsenal passed and moved through the statuesque Liverpool pairing. The problem arises that there are few options if any to replace one of the two.

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

Rodgers has Joe Allen yet to come back to full fitness. Jordan Henderson could hypothetically replace Gerrard centrally but is he ready for such a big role? Expectations would dramatically rise for the young midfielder. Henderson has been consistent if not spectacular this season. Luis Alberto has yet to be utilized and could play in the attacking midfield role but Philippe Coutinho is the obvious choice there. Bottom line,  options are limited for Rodgers. Liverpool do nt possess a dynamic midfielder compared to Arteta, Ozil and Ramsey. Not even close.

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

The three at the back for Liverpool has been controversial in some quarters. Mamadou Sakho looks like a class act, Martin Skrtel is reinvigorated and Kolo Toure has been a calming influence (until Saturday). Daniel Agger sits on the outside looking in. With Jose Enriue and Aly Cissokho failing to impress on the left, playing Agger there wouldn’t be the worst idea. When Glen Johnson returns, the right side will be solidified but the reality remains that Johnson is Liverpool’s best left back.

Photo courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

This litmus test for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool showed that the club are well off from challenging for the title anytime soon. They did have an awful day at the office however and finishing in the top four shall remain the seasons target. Twenty points from ten games and laying in third position in the league is more than what anyone executed at the start of the season. It remains to be seen if Rodgers will address the midfield issue but having such an identical mix in the middle will cause this Liverpool team to stutter against fellow top four competitors.

ARSENAL

  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna Booked
  • 28 Gibbs (Vermaelen – 78′ )
  • 08 Arteta
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 07 Rosicky (Monreal – 72′ )
  • 16 Ramsey
  • 12 Giroud
  • 11 Özil
  • 19 Cazorla (Jenkinson – 84′ Booked )

Substitutes

  • 05 Vermaelen
  • 17 Monreal
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 23 Bendtner
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 37 Akpom
  • 45 Hayden

LIVERPOOL

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 38 Flanagan (Moses – 68′ )
  • 20 Cissokho Booked (Coutinho – 45′ )
  • 17 Sakho
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 04 Kolo Touré
  • 08 Gerrard
  • 14 Henderson
  • 07 Suárez
  • 15 Sturridge
  • 21 Lucas

Substitutes

  • 01 Jones
  • 05 Agger
  • 10 Coutinho
  • 12 Moses
  • 24 Allen
  • 31 Sterling
  • 34 Kelly
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 60,042
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