Many people predicted that a beating was on the cards as many predicted that we would score a few ourselves and so it was. Possibly the biggest surprise to me was that we looked as though we were going to win for the better side for forty six of the forty seven minutes played in the first half. Theo’s penalty miss was quickly put right a few minutes later when he accurately slid the ball past a helpless Mignolet and not only were we one nil up we were looking good. So much so that I started to think that I may have read this one completely wrong.
Comments from FGG such as “Coutinho is over rated” started coming to mind and concerns about the potential long term mental damage to Holding should we suffer a thrashing seemed way off the mark. But then with just one minute before the break everyone decided to pick up the script and give it a good read. Coutinho’s free kick from distance was so good it only warranted the slightest of sighs of annoyance as it flew into the top corner. Czech was well beaten but worse, much worse it gave Liverpool the belief that they could get more than just a draw from the sundrenched afternoon at the Emirates.
And so that proved. Liverpool came out after the break with renewed belief and quickly took the lead through Lalana. This was followed shortly after by Courtinho and then finally by Mane turning Chambers inside out.
Things were looking grim, people around me started walking out, the groans aimed at Wenger were getting louder and some people were even saying things like “we should have brought a central defender and a striker”. Really, who would have thought? I searched for my inner Zen consoling myself that this was predictable and I should not be upset because winning is not the only reason I go to watch Arsenal (OK that bit’s a lie). The mood of the crowd had changed, the groans aimed at Wenger were getting louder but just as those very groans were about to turn into full scale abuse, up popped Oxlaide-Chamberlain to slalom past the Liverpool defence and fire in through the smallest gap at the near post.
Wooo, this was getting exciting. Wenger sent the kitchen sink down the touchline to warm up before throwing it on, and it worked; Chambers flicked on into the net a delightful Cazorla free kick making it 3-4, and for a moment we allowed ourselves to dream that the full come back was on. Alas, it didn’t happen as we know but the next best thing did and that was that we witnessed a really exciting game. Never a dull moment at Arsenal, bring on Leicester and let the signings begin.
Czech: another commanding performance. I can’t see that he was at fault for any of the goals but I will defer to GIE for a more knowledgeable view. 5
Bellerin: We have a saying around where I sit which goes: when things are going wrong think of Hector. Did you see that tackle he made in the dying minutes when he raced back at turbo speed, amazing and uplifting at the same time. I have not seen replays but Hector had the air of the veteran about him, calm collected, right place, right time. 6
Holding: I have been looking forward to writing this: the man was outstanding, his passing ability, his accuracy, both short and long were excellent. The idea that he was going to be the one to buckle proved unfounded; all the problems came from the Chambers and Monreal side. 7
Chambers: there was a time in the first half when I was thinking this man is going to be MOTM but then his passing started going astray and then he started going astray. If Koscielny is fit next week I would keep Holding and drop Chambers. 3. OK I will give him an extra point for his goal. 4
Monreal: I thought he and Chambers were responsible for the last three Liverpool goals. The left flank was constantly exposed. Nacho’s positioning was all over the place. 3
Elneny and Coquelin: Our midfield dogs of war, love’em. For the amount of work they both put in they deserved more. 7 each.
Ramsey: Europe’s second best number 10 carried on where he left off at the Euros which was very good; it is easy to forget how effective he is when played in his natural position. 7
Iwobi: Not a good day for Alex; he really was the weak link. His inability to find his man when a simple pass was all that was needed had a huge knock on affect so much so that I would say that it reduced Sanchez’ effectiveness by 50%. 4
Sanchez: with no one to play the quick one twos that make him so effective he was reduced to being isolated for much of the game. It is too early to say whether he can or can’t be a number nine; we will only know that when Ozil, the king of the assists returns. 6
Walcott: Theo thrived when fed but that was not as often as he needed and so he faded. Still good from Theo though, I liked what I saw. 6