Tactical dissection of Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Liverpool


That was in no way satisfying, entertaining, or remotely fun. This next line won’t make that Nil-Nil game any better; but it must be said. Liverpool deserve a ton of credit. In terms of their attacking, they offered a real threat on the counter in the form of the dazzling Coutinho, big man Christian Benteke and a very experienced and reliable James Milner.

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Defensively they kept their shape very well and did not allow much space in between the center halfs and full backs. Can sat in front of the back four and while he wasn’t terrific by any means he did his job, as was the case with all the other Liverpool players defensively.

This team is clearly leaps and bounds better than the one we smacked 4-1 last April. Still, we are a much much better side than them in every department, and Rodgers doesn’t really have his head screwed on right. I will say that when Rodgers brought on Jordan Rossiter, I wasn’t the only one looking at his tactical decisions and saying, “What are those!”

Now that that is out of the way, it’s time to discuss a real team; overall, disappointing and flat. I really do not want to overreact because the season is still so young, and besides Manchester money bags, no one else is convincing right now. Yet, there was so much left to be desired from that performance.

Starting with the positives though, Coq was brilliant, pushing his teammates, making last-ditch challenges and being very solid on the ball. Monreal was the only sure thing out of the back four; Cazorla was his usual conductor self and oh my word was Cech astounding. Those saves were exactly what all Arsenal supporters have been waiting for. Top draw to say the least.

Our shape was not bad at all, there was no overarching problem like a severe lack of width or poor spacing like we had against West Ham.

Sadly, the positives stop there.

Firstly, from a defensive standpoint there was minimal, if any, leadership. I completely understand who our center backs were and that leadership and communication was always going to be difficult during this game. But the spacing between the two of them, the lack of interceptions and sound positioning especially in the first half was just not good enough. The worst aspect of the back four tonight was the casual lackluster distribution out of the back, mainly from Chambers and Bellerin. Furthermore, Chambers takes much too many touches.

Moving up the pitch, there is Aaron Ramsey. A player who is really starting to divide opinion amongst Arsenal supporters. Does he run tirelessly? does he always provide a threat going forward? Is his energy at most times irreplaceable? Yes, Yes, and Yes. Conversely, his decision making at times is still so erratic, he turns the ball over more than any other attacking player, he is being played out of his natural position and most importantly, you have an absolute beast on the bench in Oxlade-Chamberlain. People will say Ramsey gave a great effort and had a solid game but I sadly will not be one of those people after this performance.

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Sanchez and Ozil were both underwhelming due to the crazy high bar set, but they didn’t get much help from their target striker in Giroud who couldn’t really find his touch from the first minute onward. This was another performance where all those people who keep saying you won’t win the title with this guy as your main striker, gained a point in their corner. Again, it is one game, but this could become a trend throughout the season.

Finally, the Gaffer himself, Arsene Wenger. Forced into tough changes due to injury and illness, the starting XI was what it was supposed to be bar the center backs; however waiting so long to put on the roadrunners was a tactical mistake. Although Liverpool were sitting deep, we needed Ox on the wing to beat players 1 vs 1 to create more space and drag a center back out of position to come help cover. Moreover, while Theo again was utterly invisible once he came on, giving him that much time after Giroud didn’t impress just doesn’t make complete sense.

Still, next weekend presents a opportunity to grab all three points and find our feet offensively for real, for the first time this year.

Next: Arsenal v Liverpool Player Ratings

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