Good Morning this Sunday morning Positives fans worldwide,
The best game of football that I have watched for a long time yesterday evening. Both sides played quality football and had footballers in very position who were comfortable with the ball and had confidence in controlling and using it, despite the press of the opponent. A word of praise too for almost all the players who approached the contest in the right way yesterday. There was very little whining to the referee and diving and no serious foul play that I saw. The only player who let himself down was Mane whose dishonest efforts were correctly ignored by Andre Marriner from early in the first half.
Of the game itself ? I admit I was a little tense at kick-off to see how our defenders would stand up to the quicksilver Scouse front three in open play. For about ten first half minutes there was an early wobble but once the tremor had passed I need have had no worries. With Sead returned, though a little rusty, our back line played with full concentration for the full 95 minutes. Tackles were clean and decisive. When the ball needed clearing it was hoofed. Every attacking Liverpool thrust was met by coverage of at least two defenders. The opposition clearly had a few sights of goals but never the defence-splitting-racing-in-1:1-on- Leno of my nightmares. Praise too for Mhki, Auba and later Alex Iwobi for putting in the defensive yards to disrupt and harry the visitors’ work on the flanks. Our only weak spot on the night was on Liverpool corners from which Van Dijk appeared to have the run of the six yard box. A bit of work required on that one from Unai.
Apparently there may have been an offside goal ? No idea, collective sigh of relief around me and a shrug. I saw on the BBC website when Klopp was asked if the referee/lino had made a mistake with the incident he answered ” I don’t know, but he did not make as many mistakes as we did today”. Good response.
With the defensive platform in place we had the opportunity to play football going forward, with Lucas, Granit and Mesut playing intelligent football. My impression was Granit played a lot more simple, short balls yesterday. Possession was rarely wasted and we gradually began to open up gaps in the Liverpool defence, for Auba and Laca to exploit.
After our best first half of the season, even though we were still at 0-0, I was not sure what would come next. During the first 15 minutes we were definitely on top, and looked the more likely to score, so it was a kick to the collective North Bank bollocks to see the goal from Milner go in.
Within seconds of the disappointment though the crowd, and from the way the Arsenal players went straight back back to kick off them too, were back on the front foot straight away. No heads dropped and with half an hour to go the game was still wide open.
The substitutions ? Odd sequence considering we were 0-1 down but that is what head coaches do – shake the dice. Great calls when they work, and last night they did perfectly with Iwobi offering a trickiness and energy that Mhki had not against a tiring defence.
Beautiful and deserved goal from Alex Lacazette. His celebration, (caught by the Arsenal photoman Stuart McFarlane above) absolutely wild.
And with the score 1-1 I sensed both teams slipped slightly down a gear, although Hector could have capped a sparkling evening with a winner in the 88th minute.
Man of the Match ? An impossible choice but in line with my comments about the foundation being in place it is a split decision between Hector and Rob Holding, neither of whom put foot wrong all evening.