With a highly anticipated encounter between Arsenal and Liverpool yesterday, it took the Gunners until the second half to finally turn up. Here Mikey Brown takes a look at some of the shortcomings in Arsenal’s starting line-up.
Arsenal’s first half display was an absolute shambles. Arsene Wenger remarked of the players playing with the hand break on and being cautious of what happened last year. Why would Arsenal be cautious of what happened last year considering the poor performances displayed by Liverpool of late? Wenger’s men should have capitalised on Liverpool’s dreary performances and put them to the sword.
Yesterday’s performance was one to forget. The midfield was not up to the pace of Liverpool’s. Jordan Henderson and Phillippe Coutinho tore apart Mathieu Flamini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was only half fit and Flamini is well past it. If a team is to have its first choice midfielders out injured, they need players who are just as good, if not better to replace them. Flamini just can’t cut it. He was dragged all over the midfield yesterday by Coutinho and he couldn’t keep up with the pace.
Oxlade-Chamberlain changed the game against Newcastle when he went to central midfield, he added tempo and flare and influenced the play around him.
At anfield, he came into the game struggling with a groin injury and was not up to speed. Arsenal had one central midfielder on the bench, Francis Coquelin who was brought back from Charlton on an emergency loan. Flamini and Coquelin are hardly the cream of the crop. They wouldn’t get into any top six Premier League side but unfortunately wenger has chosen to stick with them.
If one is going to bring a player into central midfield, he has to be experienced, he has to give his team mates confidence, knowing that they are thinking ‘yes he’s coming on in midfield, we will dominate now’.
It was a very much unorganised, makeshift arsenal team and with the amount of injuries they have, but they need to bring in world-class players who can make a difference. Flamini, Coquelin and Mikel Arteta are not internationals. Arsenal should have senior internationals replacing their starting XI. Wenger’s weakness sometimes is still believing in players, even if they’re not up to standard, such as Nicklas Bendtner.
It’s frustrating to see that Arsenal could not hold out for the win but a goal was coming from Liverpool. They kept on pressing hard for the goal. Raheem Sterling’s pace was too much for Per Mertesacker to compete with and Coutinho was a continuous threat throughout the game.
We saw Arsenal move out of second gear in the second half and they finally put a foot on the ball and played a bit more. Kieran Gibbs was brought into the game more and Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez swapped sides, with Olivier Giroud playing more centrally.
It was a great phase of play between Gibbs , Giroud and Santi Cazorla for the goal. A nice one-touch sequence between the three players lead for a nicely slotted goal at the Anfield Road end.
Arsenal held on at 2-1 until the 97th minute when Martin Skrtel equalised with a header from a corner. Arsene Wenger had since brought on two more defensive players and Liverpool were down to ten men. Arsenal lacked concentration in those final minutes and even though they were lucky to be winning, they threw away a vital three points.
Mikey Brown, Pundit Arena