ARSENAL 0 – 0 LIVERPOOL
Seven points from 3 games. That’s what Liverpool have from their fixtures. That and more, including the confidence to face any team in the league. We went up against the FA Cup holders and didn’t lose the game, didn’t even concede a goal and that’s something we can be proud of. Sometimes even the games that only award a single point instead of all three can be more to the fans than the wins. If you’re too busy complaining that we didn’t win, then you’ve missed the “supporting” part of being a supporter. It’s not about total points gained. It’s a feeling that we achieved something worth achieving and passed a milestone, establishing the standard for how the best teams in the country will need to play as they face the most competitive sides in football.
Liverpool’s lineup would be a little different from the first two fixtures, due partly to injury. Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson are not at 100% fitness currently and it affected the starting 11.
What we hadn’t seen before this season and would in this game: Emre Can in midfield. More often used as defender by Brendan Rodgers, he’s being handed a more attacking role currently and did not disappoint. Lucas Leiva would start for the first time this season, a bit more Brazilian magic to add to the already very exciting team, his contribution is much appreciated by the fans who know well how he holds a team together, like a captain (even though he doesn’t officially wear the armband).
Speaking of captains, Jordan Henderson would of course hand over that role to James Milner and there was likely no regrets by the manager for having done this. He led us to a result that wasn’t about how many total points you can gain, but how to look respectable against strong opposition. That’s worthy of a captain.
Roberto Firmino would get a chance at starting instead of being substitute. I’ve mentioned how I’ve wanted to see this happen before and it wasn’t anything less than I had expected to see. Exciting football and a partnership between Firmino and Coutinho that brought a big smile to my face as I watched happily.
The rest of the team and squad was relatively unchanged. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that Jordan Rossiter would make an appearance for around 15 minutes (as substitute at the end of the second half) and although he didn’t score as he had on his only other appearance for Liverpool (yes, his debut) he still managed to be a part of this respectable result.
The game started and would continue in much the same fashion – attack and counter attack. The defenders and goalkeepers had to be on top form to keep their opponents from running riot and every threat was dealt with professionally, before our attackers created some threats of our own for them to defend against. Petr Cech and Simon Mignolet were kept very busy throughout the entire game and both deserve credit for doing so well against strong opposition.
The first ten minutes of the game had some controversy in them. Arsenal would create an opportunity for their forward Aaron Ramsey, who managed to put the ball into the net, though the linesman would hold up his flag for offside and disallow it. Replays of the disallowed goal would actually quite clearly show that Ramsey had been pretty much level with the last defender and could have just as easily been ruled as onside – it was an extremely close and perhaps insignificant amount of space that Ramsey had been ahead of Liverpool’s last defender if he had been ahead at all as the ball was played to him.
Having said that, not all decisions are easy to make. Match officials just have to judge what they see, at the moment they see it (with no replays as fans watching TV get to view). That kind of decision can go either way and it went against Arsenal’s favour this time. Unlucky, but not “cheating”. We didn’t break the rules, at best we simply “got lucky” by having a match official rule in our favour over something which was a very close call to make.
Arsenal fans probably hate the linesman and referee for their part in ruling out this goal and feel harshly treated, perhaps even cheated out of two extra points from what they may feel should have been a 1-0 victory for them. After the match, their manager would have his say on this early event of the game –
“We scored a regular goal that was disallowed, I don’t believe I can do something about it. At the end of the day, the referee cancelled out a regular goal. Like it or don’t like it, it is a fact.”
After that incident, Liverpool played like a team that knew it needed to not lose or even to not let their opponents score again. Not going as far as Jose Mourinho with the defensive tactics (we didn’t “park the bus” and create a back line of 8 defenders) but we certainly made sure that the ball never again found it’s way into our net for the entire game.
Liverpool didn’t just sit back and defend, though. We still had plenty of attacks, some of which resulted in very close calls that could so easily have been goals, but were not.
Benteke was tightly marked at all times and we tried on multiple attempts to provide him with assistance to help us take a lead, though the Arsenal defence (including goalkeeper Petr Cech) would do a good enough job to keep him from scoring in this game.
One player that was providing that service and doing attacking of his own was Coutinho.
The Brazilian worked well with both Lucas and Firmino and the rest of his teammates on the pitch as he controlled play, battled hard in challenges, made unexpected interceptions and won the ball a surprisingly large amount. The only thing he failed to was actually put the ball in the net, though he would come very close at doing so. The crossbar and the right hand post denied Coutinho two goals as a couple of his powerful shots made their way past Petr Cech and were inches (or perhaps even just a single inch) away from going into the net rather than rebounding away, as happened eventually. He would work tirelessly in our offensive play and looked dangerous every time he had the ball. We really can’t complain about his “failure” to become a goalscorer though as the effort he showed was incomparable to anybody on the pitch. His work rate was the highest of all players chosen to play in this game.
Though Coutinho really was superb, he has not been chosen as my Man Of The Match. That honour is saved for our goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet. Without a doubt, he was the saving grace that helped us keep away threats from some of the best attackers in the Premier League. This player worked hard and is just filling me with pride every time he keeps yet another clean sheet for the club. We’ve played three games and conceded ZERO goals. That’s a record that he can be proud of as most other goalkeepers in the league find it too difficult to stop their opponents from scoring, even if their team wins. It’s a good feeling to be so confident that you can depend on your last line of defence against the strongest teams in the league. If it comes down to a 1 on 1 challenge, it’s more likely that we’ll stop the attack than fall victim to it. Then our own attackers can go about securing our own goals which can be become match winners as opponents are kept from scoring by our goalkeeper. This kind of dependable player is often seen in League and Cup winning teams and with some consistency, we’ll do our best to turn the results in our favour with this kind of play going on.
Liverpool’s next game will now see us travel back to Anfield once more to face West Ham, on 29th August. Keep walking on, with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.