Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal – Rodgers Small Squad Setting Solid Foundations

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

 

By Jonathan Carroll

After leaving the Hawthorne’s last Sunday, Kolo Toure was chastised as the villain of the piece. Obviously his high profile mistake cost the reds three valuable points. On Saturday the former Arsenal defender set about correcting his West Brom nightmare with a sold performance against his former team. The good news for all Liverpool supporters is that he was part of the eleven that destroyed a top of the table Arsenal team. And convincingly so.

 

Brendan Rodgers set up his side to go at the Gunners straight from the off and that they did with a desire that left Arsene Wenger failing to find a response. Steven Gerrard whipped in two set pieces early on as Martin Skrtel obliged with the finishing touches, the second a magnificent header into the top left hand corner.

 

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

 

Luis Suarez was freed by Jordan Henderson after the Englishman dispossessed Mesut Ozil on the halfway line. Suarez put in a pin point cross for the resurgant Raheem Sterling to tap home. Philippe Coutinho then set up Daniel Sturridge with a pin point through ball that simultaneously set up Sturridge on his left foot and took Kocielny out of the play. It was all over long before Sterling bagged his second and Mikel Arteta added a consolation from the penalty spot.

 

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

 

Liverpool were four nil up and it could have easily been a lot more. Every player is now contributing. Jon Flanagan looked solid at right back, Aly Cissokho done his job at left back even of he wasn’t spectacular and Toure put in an efficient shift. Liverpool have tried a few different combinations in midfield so far this season but Gerrard now looks comfortable sitting deep with Henderson on front of him.

 

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

 

The fact Raheem Sterling won man of the match on Saturday and his latest improvement in form shouldn’t be easily overlooked. A player who was low on confidence early in the season now looks like he fancies himself to take anyone on. Coutinho showed that he can compete in midfield with Ozil and Jack Wilshere. Perhaps more than compete, outclass is probably a better word. Rodgers has played a huge part in the renaissance of both players.

 

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

 

Why then does this Liverpool team conquer the big hurdle but fall to the lesser challenge. The wafer thin squad has a big part to play in the equation. At one point Liverpool FC had fifteen fit first team players this season. No January signings were introduced and Rodgers whether he liked it or not put his trust in his current squad. They have responded with a resounding “yes” as to whether they can take on the challenge of taking one of the top four places. It is important to stay grounded as players and supporters as to what the team can achieve but the signs are positive.

 

Picture courtesy of liverpoolfc.com

 

Rodgers wisely rejected talk of the title midweek during his press conference. With a squad that puts in such high intensity games like that seen against Everton and Arsenal at Anfield, there is a very high percentage that it will be followed up by a lethargic West Brom type performance. Less is needed to beat the lower placed teams in terms of quality but there were a lot of tired legs at West Brom. Fulham midweek poses a similar challenge to that of West Brom. Buoyed by their last minute point at Old Trafford, the Londoners will fancy trying to upset Liverpool at Craven Cottage.

 

LIVERPOOL

  • 22 Mignolet
  • 38 Flanagan
  • 20 Cissokho
  • 08 Gerrard (Ibe – 76′ )
  • 37 Skrtel
  • 04 Kolo Touré
  • 14 Henderson (Booked)
  • 10 Coutinho
  • 15 Sturridge (Allen – 66′ )
  • 07 Suarez (Iago Aspas – 86′ )
  • 31 Sterling

Substitutes

  • 01 Jones
  • 06 Luis Alberto
  • 09 Iago Aspas
  • 12 Moses
  • 24 Allen
  • 33 Ibe
  • 34 Kelly

ARSENAL

  • 01 Szczesny
  • 03 Sagna
  • 17 Monreal (Gibbs – 61′ )
  • 10 Wilshere (Booked)
  • 04 Mertesacker
  • 06 Koscielny
  • 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 08 Arteta
  • 12 Giroud (Booked) (Podolski – 60′ )
  • 11 Özil (Rosicky – 61′ )
  • 19 Cazorla

Substitutes

  • 07 Rosicky
  • 09 Podolski
  • 21 Fabianski
  • 23 Bendtner
  • 25 Jenkinson
  • 28 Gibbs
  • 44 Gnabry
Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 44,701

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