Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2: Eyewitness Report

Posted by Garstonite on September 2, 2012, 06:00:25 PM

I thought I would write down my thoughts as soon as I got home because there’s a strong possibility I may be in a coma later from the amount of antibiotics I’ve thrown down my throat over the past twenty-four hours. Do you want to know what’s worse than watching your side get turned over on their own patch? Watching your side get turned over on their own patch WITH THROBBING TOOTH PAIN.

Anyway. Enough about me. Onto my friend Alan, who none of you have probably ever seen or heard of. I was talking my friend Alan, who none of you have probably ever seen or heard of, and he was telling me he’d volunteered to mark GCSE exam papers over the summer. He informed me that the job of an examiner is to essentially look for key words or phrases and to give the student one point per key word or phrase they fit into the body of their answer. So, this is for you Alan:

Identify the key problems in the Liverpool team at this current moment in time. (5)
No striker. Toothless. Lack of penetration. Not clinical enough. No firepower.
5/5 – A*

The Kop would pass with 100% A-C’s.

It’s obvious. Painstakingly so. In fact, it’s difficult to know whose more responsible for Arsenal’s clean sheet: Steve Bould or FSG/Ian Ayre? You have to feel for Rodgers. His project has been put on ice. In a short space of time, he’s put together a midfield that could go toe to toe with anyone’s in Europe. In front is a strikeforce undeserving of it.

 But while that is the overriding problem, it’s certainly not the only one. Now, I’m going to say something controversial here so fasten your seatbelts… You know Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez – widely regarded as Liverpool’s best players last season – our ‘two man team’? Yeah? Well, guess what, we’d have been better off without them today.

Luis Suarez seems to have borrowed Dirk Kuyt’s old boots and Steven Gerrard – excuse the cliché – really has lost that burst of acceleration that was so key to his game. The common denominator in both of their games is a lack of patience and that is fundamental in Rodgers’ set-up. And, unsurprisingly, it was Gerrard’s attempt to ‘force’ the play (to Suarez, no less) that led to Arsenal’s first goal in the game.

The optimism that swept around the ground prior to the Man City game was absent following the frustration of transfer deadline day. Will we miss Andy Carroll? Not as much as SKY are desperate to imply. Was Clint Dempsey the answer? Maybe, maybe not. What he was, however, was a player Brendan Rodgers identified so, therefore, the argument over his credentials is moot.

What must be made clear, though, is today’s defeat wasn’t necessarily down to simply not having a striker. A proper number nine would have been a better target for our midfield three, that would have given us a greater foundation to build on. BUT, our midfield were out-thought today. It was a thinking man’s battle out there and Abou Diaby and Santi Cazorla were the standout candidates from the six in there. Santi Cazorla will be the buy of the summer. An absolutely world-class talent who I look forward to watching over the season as a neutral. Arsenal fans won’t be able to help but wonder what might have been had he been able to link up with Robin van Persie, rather than Olivier Giroud who – while offering them a presence (which is more than we can boast) – clearly isn’t in the same class.

I couldn’t help but feel that Jordan Henderson or Jonjo Shelvey would have pressed better than Gerrard appears capable of doing. Mikel Arteta was afforded the freedom of the park at times and as good a player as he is, he was rarely tested playing in the anchorman role. I’m not saying Gerrard can’t function in this system, by the way. I just feel that, against the big sides, we can’t afford to carry a passenger when we don’t have the ball. I’m in the “front three or on the bench” camp, for what it’s worth.

Any spark of optimism was lost when Podolski fired Arsenal ahead. It was difficult to know where an equalizer was going to come from. Allen aside, our midfield looked labored. Gerrard was off and Sahin – while neat on the ball – didn’t exert himself on the game in the way the Shelvey has done when coming off the bench in the last two matches. In the second half, we huffed and we puffed and, in the end, we didn’t really even get close enough to try blowing the house down. Cazorla’s goal put the game beyond doubt.

To me, I’ve not felt like that since Tottenham at home in 2010/2011. We lost a lot of games last season, but that was confidence-sapping.

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