Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool – Disjointed Reds Stutter

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


  • 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 )


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


  • 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


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


This entry was posted in Match Review, Premier League and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Jonathan Carroll. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jonathan Carroll

I’m a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Born and bred in Ireland I played Gaelic football and soccer while growing up and attended the prestigious Colaiste Ide in Dublin to prepare for a soccer scholarship to the USA. I played soccer at Thomas University in Georgia and was made team captain in my junior and senior years. I was honored to become an All-American in those same years. I graduated in 2007 and coached high school and collegiate level soccer programs incorporating year round strength and conditioning techniques with great success. I moved to Boston in 2011 and went on to work at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. I am currently the head strength and conditioning coach for the Boston Wolfe Tones Gaelic football team. Qualifications: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA) USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach FMS Certified United States Soccer Federation “D” License Football Association of Ireland Certified

One thought on “Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool – Disjointed Reds Stutter

  1. Agree with those comments Jonathan. I posted in a forum on Saturday night how static our midfield is. For a team that supposedly presses the ball, we didn’t do much pressing in midfield at all. We just stood off Arsenal and let them play in front of us until they decided to put a bit more urgency in the move and try to drive into our box. You do not give Arsenal so much time and use of the ball.

    Gerrard and Lucas were awful. Arsenal’s midfield just “one-two’d” their way round them at will. Bringing Henderson into a more central role may be necessary as he is the only central midfielder we have “with legs”.

    So much for all teams needing one or two holding central midfielders. Although Arteta played deep, he is not a natural holding player. All their middle 5 were so fluid, full of running and comfortable on the ball and, similar to the Barcelona’s/Bayern’s and Dortmund’s of this world, hunted the ball down in packs in all areas of the pitch.

    All in all a bad day at the office. Let’s hope we can get back on track for Fulham this Saturday.


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