Liverpool 3 – 3 Arsenal Afterthoughts
Almost 24 hours after the Pool game there is still a bit of feeling of disappointment after missing out on three points when we were so close to snatching them all. The 3-3 draw was a fair result though, and a point from Anfield is always a good one. We are doing really, really well considering we are without Alexis, Santi and Coquelin. Imagine those three having started yesterday or coming off the bench; it probably would have meant a win for us. And it was a big improvement from our last away game against the Saints, and we fared a lot better than Man City or the Chavs did against Pool in recent months.
Flamini is a player who can still do a job for us but he should not be played in too many games in succession anymore. He has filled the Coquelin gap admirably, and Chambers was not too bad either, but in games like last night’s we could do with a more dynamic and energetic DM as back up for the Le Coq. Luckily, we have now signed Elneny and let’s see whether he can fill Le Coq’s void.
To me it was obvious that the midfield trio of Flamini, Rambo and Ozil did not work against Pool, especially in terms of protecting the back four and winning dominance in midfield. Rambo did great work in linking up with attack though; and our ability to score goals in almost every game is a big positive. Last night it saved us once again. Man City, Everton and Spuds did not manage to score a single goal last night and Leicester needed a late Huth bullet to finally get on the score sheet. Ramsey’s running from midfield is a key factor in this, and so we need to find a better balance between a defensive wall for our back four without losing Ramsey’s forward thrust and box to box presence.
Some say we missed Santi as he would be better suited to Liverpool’s pressing game last night, and they may be right. I reckon it is more to do with missing both Santi AND Alexis against Pool. Both have the ability to hold on to the ball and squeeze out of a press, and by playing neither of them we lacked that bit of extra midfield control on the night. Theo tried hard enough to help out his full back – wherever he was – but is nowhere near as defensively strong as Alexis. Campbell on the other hand really impressed with his defensive support in terms of positioning , work rate and interventions (even though he started a bit wobbly). He was a great partner for either of the FBs and was also able to hold on to the ball and allow the team to breath out on numerous occasions.
Sitting very deep probably cost us a couple of points yesterday, though. I sat next to a Pool supporter who kept telling me how sh*te their defence was. He especially slated Moreno and Mignolet and I thought these sort of ‘supporters’ clearly exist at every club. But it was clear that Pool’s best defence was to attack and press us back into our own half. And we did not do enough to prevent this. By sitting back we invited the pressure and especially our area in front of our ‘D’ was often left wide open, presenting the Pool attackers with a Blackpool-style shooting gallery. Two shots from outside our box let to two goals and it could have been more. It is fair to say Firmino took his opportunities well and was unlucky not to make it a first half hat-trick. Especially the second goal was a peach of a strike.
When we had Coquelin in front of our defence we usually owned the area around our ‘D’ but yesterday we really allowed our back four to be very exposed. And only due to the excellent defending by especially Koz, BFG and Cech we prevented us from letting even more goals in.
I thought we played really well between the 50th and 65th minute and Ollie provided the icing on the cake with what was rightly described as a Bergkampesque goal. Wenger was right that we did not make the best attacking decisions after the third goal to close out the game, and it was especially disappointing that we could not benefit more from the space available to us. The second half should have been Theo’s and Ozil’s but both were not at their very best, although they tried very hard. Luckily, Giroud, Campbell and Rambo were punching at and above their weight and that got us the three goals and the one point. Theo will have to rethink what his role is in the team if and when we play him and Giroud at the same time.
Campbell was very, very good and his composure, timing and passing for a number of our attacks – most notably for our first goal – was especially impressive. I recommend you to watch the game again and then just concentrate on Joel – it is worth it!
Giroud’s work rate and involvement in all goals – taking two himself – was also very impressive. Yes he missed a sitter but when a ball has a bounce this is always a risk, and I wished Theo would have kept his pass on the ground (just watch Hector Vector who knows how to play a billiard ball or two from that side…).
It was a scrappy goal that led to Pool’s equaliser but we cannot have too many complaints about it. We invited the pressure and sometimes we hold out and sometimes we do not. Let’s hope that getting a result in the Anfield cauldron will have prepared us well for the battle with the Orcs of Stoke this weekend. If we can also sort out the balance in midfield and reintroduce Alexis on the wing, we should have a good chance to finally take three points away from there. And wouldn’t that be sweet?! 🙂