There were mixed reactions to Arsenal’s loss to Liverpool at the weekend, but most subscribed to the ‘work in progress’ theory and looked for the positives … here are some of the more constructive appraisals:
Many are now blaming Emery for his team selection (debatable) and tactics but if he is to be a top manager for us he will hopefully have learnt something and the key areas where to strengthen. Luiz was stupid but you see that in every game. In all probability without pulling Salah’s shirt, he still would have scored
Xhaka again didn’t stamp any authority on the game and Monreal yet again got caught out of position.
Maybe Pepe should have scored but he will be awesome and no mean task to make your debut at Anfield.
We were always second best but one can’t fault our work rate.
The first goal is always key in these games. If Pepe had scored when through then this could’ve been a different story, but to concede just before and just after half time will kill any side. It’s even worse when you gift them the goals.
I thought our shape was actually ok. We played a diamond with Ceballos at the point and Xhaka deep. Yes, we were very narrow and allowed their full backs space, but actually they didn’t test Leno really from the crosses that came in and it was other parts of our overall play that cost us.
Pepe was fantastic and if you don’t get excited watching him and Auba linking together then I don’t know what to say. I really hope we see the trio soon with Lacazette coming in to see what we can really do. His finishing needs work but his running and eye for pass were on show again.
Willock was outstanding and looks every bit a new star in our midfield and exactly what we need. What’s not to love about his energy, composure and ability. Love him.
Geundouzi’s energy was also a joy but he lacks a bit of refinement. Hopefully that will come with experience and I think his and Willock energy just takes a bit of pressure off Xhaka. Before the first goal I actually thought the midfield 3 were giving us good protection and we looked pretty good until that Pepe miss and set piece lapse in concentration.
Yes, we gave away the wings but did well protecting our centre and the crosses and I’d say we had the best of chances in the first half. I’m not sure if we were back to full concentration when Luiz saw Salah slip in and grabbed his shirt. I can’t blame him for that. Despite the rule change with VAR all players are still grabbing shirts and it will take time to get this habit out of their game, especially one that’s been playing the whole of his career like that!
So, 2-0 down and then 3. At this point I thought we looked doomed to another bashing with half hour to go but not sure whether Pool lost the desire a bit knowing the game was won or maybe they tired too – maybe a bit of both.
We played out the game and our heads didn’t drop, gained a bit more confidence and got a consolation, one back. I thought on the day we were just not as well oiled or confident as them. We have 3 first teamers waiting to join the crew and I look forward to a better match next time, maybe with better tactics by then if all goes well.
Another thing to bear is mind is that ‘Pool had pretty much their strongest team on the pitch yesterday.
It’s quite likely that UE’s strongest team later in the season will be something like:
The positives from this game were as follows:
1. we can see that we have the depth and variety to change things from our bench, and Pepe I think will soon start to terrorise teams.
2. Willock indeed looks a great BTB player completely suited to the EPL and with quality as well. Scarily (good for us) he will also improve further.
3. We have some great players individually and I feel this will be a stronger EPL campaign for us overall. We should have enough to beat most of the teams that we should beat with less banana skins.
4. Torreira has again shown he has an eye for goal and the ability to drive forwards in addition to his tackling and defensive tenacity. He looks another great potential BTB player, but this raises the conundrum of who plays the holding midfield position to allow him to play to his peak.
So all in all, an away loss to the team that only lost one game last season and whose home ground has been the proverbial fortress is not a disaster.
We’d all have taken a loss at Anfield if we get the 3 points this weekend wouldn’t we?