LIVERPOOL 3-1 Arsenal
Liverpool have claimed their second Premier League win of 2017, against a second London side, Arsenal. Home fans at Anfield saw their first Premier League win of the year against Tottenham and now their second against Arsenal.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp kept 10 out of 11 players who had been a part of the defeat to Leicester City recently. The 1 who was removed from the starting 11 and moved over to the substitute bench was Lucas, who was replaced by Klavan, who is at least a real defender (while Lucas is a defensive midfielder). It seems Klopp may share the fans worries about natural positions and that Lucas wasn’t playing to his peak performance in the back line of defence rather than in the midfield. Can would still be in the heart of the midfield because Hendo’s still not fit enough to feature in any part of the squad just yet.
Liverpool never looked like losing this game at any point. We started strong, held possession of the ball most of the time and maintained early offensive tactics and in under 10 minutes had scored a goal.
Sadio Mané would cross over from the right wing and Firmino was waiting inside of the 6 yard box to connect with the ball and send it powering past former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and into the back of the net at Anfield from close range.
Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal
This was just a starting point and Liverpool didn’t look like sitting back to play defensively and maybe win 1-0. We showed the effort and desire to score more goals and we would get them eventually.
The first half saw Liverpool’s attacks run again and again, like we were practicing on a training ground. It looked effortless and dangerous at the same time.
Liverpool had only to wait until the 40th minute for their next goal, with Firmino this time assisting the person who had assisted his goal earlier- repaying the favour for Sadio Mané to add his name to the score sheet.
So, by half time Liverpool had a comfortable lead (2-0) and it was thanks to Firmino and Mané.
Arsenal had one major factor missing from their side in the 1st half – Alexis Sanchez!
Arsene Wenger had decided to experiment a little bit (against Liverpool no less) and tried out a starting 11 which did not feature key Arsenal player Alexis Sanchez. BIG mistake. Sanchez has been directly involved in a (Arsenal club record) league-high 26 goals in his 26 Premier League matches this season, scoring 17 and assisting nine goals. REALLY? You want to keep that guy out of the starting 11, Wenger? Well, it works for us but not for you.
At the half time break, Wenger clearly realised his mistake and brought on Sanchez for the next 45 minutes (and extra time). Right from the start of the second half, he was doing rather well. In fact, by the 57th minute he had added to his record by creating an assist for Danny Welbeck’s goal. Less than quarter of an hour of play and Sanchez had proven that clearly he is one of Arsenal’s best and probably should have been in the starting 11.
It was now Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal and the away side were actually starting to look dangerous enough to possibly claim a point (or three?). They had to push hard although, our counter offensive plays just got stronger for it. They couldn’t attempt to start scoring without losing some of their defensive options and this made opportunities for a manager like Klopp who loves to use “Gegen-Pressing” (counter-offensive) tactics. Due to injury, Jordan Henderson wasn’t going to be in the midfield doing that, but Can and Wijnaldum and Mané and Lallana all pushed through the middle of the pitch to work their magic in his absence. Plenty of effort was made in this hardworking squad.
So, it was a little nerve-wracking for a while. Liverpool did continue to show spells of their offensive danger, but our defenders were certainly having a much harder time to do their duties since Sanchez became a part of the game. Our goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was tested from time to time and he did what was needed to stop us from conceding any further than we already had. We couldn’t keep a clean sheet any more, but we could stop Arsenal from gaining any points. They’d have to get a 2nd goal to even claim a single point from a draw. That wasn’t allowed and it was down to our defence (including the goalkeeper). We looked solid, perhaps even more solid than having a defensive midfielder (Lucas) as a center back. Matip and Klavan did well working alongside each other in the center of the back line.
On and on the game would go, further and further towards a win that Liverpool fans just needed to see. We’d only been a part of two victories in 2017 before this fixture and one of them was just a cup win against a lower league side. The one Premier League win for Liverpool had been 2-0 against Tottenham.. So, fans had been through a lot of fixtures without really getting to see victory very often. Considering the long winning streak that had happened from the start of the 2016-2017 season we had come to expect a high ratio of wins. Then, the winning streak had come to an end by the time January came about. It was rather shell-shocking. Reds fans could barely believe that we weren’t doing what we’d been doing for long enough to get to the top of the league and later keep 2nd place for a prolonged amount of time, sitting just behind Chelsea from when they edged ahead of us by only a point or two.
There would be another goal to come in this game. I’m happy to report that it was Liverpool who were to score it. A rather well worked piece of play saw Liverpool throw a long ball to Wijnaldum. Lallana would have the ball, turn away from a defender who wanted to claim it, pass it to Origi (without any interception) and then Wijnaldum claimed the ball from Origi’s precise cross. He had to keep off a defender, make his way towards Petr Cech and bash the ball past Arsenal’s goalkeeper from inside the penalty area to claim his goal, Not easy, but he did make it look easy. Precision shooting and not allowing defenders or goalkeeper to stop him from making it Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal in the 91st minute. The game was over for our opponents now, there was only 3 minutes of extra time to play and they had to score 2 goals in two minutes if they even wanted to claim a point. Wijnaldum had claimed the winning goal of the game.
Man of the Match
Sadio Mané spent most of the game making Arsenal’s defenders run around after him. He was the biggest threat on the pitch, assisted one goal and scored one goal himself. Absolutely delightful to watch this guy play. Liverpool fans can be thankful that he’s back from Africa (after the AFCON tournament) and doing what he does best again for his club. This kind of thing is why we missed him so much as he played for his country.
Liverpool pushed up to third place in the Premier League and have just over a week before we will play more Premier League football at Anfield again. We’ll have Burnley come to our ground and test us in the place we’ve started getting our wins for this year. We had been defeated by Burnley in 2016, but that was on a horrible rainy night in Burnley. Hopefully this time, the weather won’t factor too much into the result of the game and we can show them how we’re improving our results this year.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this victory, Anfield Family. Walk on with hope in your hearts. 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 (more than 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.