Good morning Positive Arsenal friends,
A thorough hiding on Merseyside yesterday evening I feel most, if not all of you, would agree. We were attacked at speed and with venom by talented footballers. Their fury unhinged us, and their efficient finishing expelled us from the game in 18 deadly first half minutes. From 1-0 up to 3-1 down. Sala, Firmino and Mane running riot, and Arsenal defenders left sprawling like bowling pins. In theory we still had a foot in the game and who can forget some of the storming, high scoring contests with the Scousers in recent years ? Unfortunately for us the normally porous Liverpool defensive line, though pierced early by our own version of swift and incisive attack, were much better organised and denied us much chance to add to our early success. It was over. If you’d offered me 5-1 at Half time I’d have taken you hand off.
Is there much to be learned by us after such a public thrashing ? I think there is.
First, and probably foremost, we played against a very good football side who provided a display of how to win football matches. Look, learn, and absorb. None of our players will be any worse off for the learning experience.
Second, defensively, while we can get away with some patchy concentration and seat-of-our-pants work against plenty of teams in the PL and Europa ( and 22 the game run underlines it) against really good teams it is not going to work. I refuse to believe Lichtensteiner, all 250+ Juve appearances, 7 Scuddettos, multiple CL games, under his belt has suddenly forgotten how to defend or where to stand. Looking at the Keystone Cops performance of the Swiss, Mustafi and Sokratis in the first half however, with the actually RUNNING INTO ONE ANOTHER and even the dependable Torreira falling flat on his face (!), we need far better organisation at the back. You can see I am a football expert with such insight. I strongly suspect it is a coaching issue though I accept it may have a personnel strain within it. The replacement of Shkodran by the evidently the 90% fit Laurent seemed to calm the hysteria along the back four, albeit Liverpool were no longer playing at full tilt. In the short term therefore Koscielny is likely to be a key player so let us hope the 90% can gradually increase to the full fitness.
Third, I thought that going forward last night, when we did have the ball, we did OK. I was dubious about choosing AMN and Iwobi but both played well all evening. Kosalinac battled hard and Ramey did fine. Laca was unlucky with his penalty shout, possibly because he tried to stay on his feet for a stride when other players when they feel “contact” would hit the deck immediately.
A few games this afternoon to keep an eye on. I expect little joy but, as we saw at Wembley yesterday, it is strange how the crumbs of relief spill from the breadboard of Life when you least expect it.
I am off to breakfast. Enjoy Sunday.