Liverpool 1 – 1 Arsenal: 2 points dropped or 1 point gained?

That is the question of Sunday’s game.

Personally, I was very very disappointed with the result. After the build up pre game, the pre season antics and the players and manager insistent that they had learnt the mistakes from last season, what we saw yesterday was a repeat of the whole of last season in one game.

  • Our keeping was terrible
  • Our inability to shoot cost us points
  • Too much sideways passing
  • No urgency in the final third

Questions have raised about only having one striker on when we were playing against ten men. In simple terms, we played very well in the first half, but then in the second half, we dropped off the pace and didn’t play as well. It’s sickening to see such a performance considering we had been talking about winning the title prior to the game and of course, the fact that Liverpool only had ten men for the entire second half. We really should have put on Van Persie way before we did, and with so many midfielders on, was Rosicky really necessary or would Vela have been a better option. I really don’t know if I am being harsh, but any team who plays XI versus X for an entire half, at the top level, has to win.

Credit to Liverpool fr defending well, but the lack of penetration from us was very worrying. Chamakh looked industrious, and yes, contributed to the goal, but he is another player who doesn’t seem to shoot on site, and considering the overwhelming amount of possession we had, the number of shots was quite low. If we can’t beat the likes of a ten man Liverpool, how will we beat an eleven man Chelsea or United?

And Almunia is just simply terrible. It’s clear that Arsene doesn’t trust him and that in itself could be a key thing affecting his game. If a deal for Given or Schwarzer doesn’t happen then we’ll have a lot of damaged keepers on our hands, none of which Arsene trusts. And isn’t it a bit weird to have your keeper, who you are trying to replace as captain?

Almunia spoke on this whole situation:

“If somebody comes in, I will have to talk about my future at Arsenal. That is it. I cannot talk now, because the talking would be for nothing. I have to work and if one day I am not good for Arsenal, I will talk. That is no problem. I am very happy here. I don’t see anything else outside of Arsenal. It will be very difficult to play for another team in England if it wasn’t Arsenal. Spain would also be difficult. But I am 33 years old and only have a few more years left in football. I would like to enjoy them. I am a keeper who enjoys playing.”

But, I’ll lose the negativity for now – it’s clear that there is some work to do. I was impressed with the new defender Koscielny – he looked solid and seemed to have the required recovery pace that we lost with the ageing Gallas. I was impressed with his reading of the game too, but with his sending off, I am quite worried about who we will play against Blackpool, especially with Djourou injured. Whether or not Song will recover and be deployed at the back remains to be seen.

Chamakh did look decent, and in the role he played, his movement was good and I can see why Arsene wanted him in. I hope Van Persie can come back to fitness and those two can pull off a decent partnership – I do think we need them to both play to help our attacking options. It was interesting to see Berbatov and Rooney play so well together in terms of creating chances – it’s much more difficult for two centre backs to mark two players than one.

Arsene did speak out about the two new signings and also acknowlged that another defender is required:

“We finished third last year and our ambition is to progress, to improve. I feel the two players who we bought have done well – I believe Chamakh and Koscielny had an impress performance today. We are still a bit short defensively.”

So overall, yes, I am disappointed, but a draw up at Anfield isn’t a bad result, and if we can sign a goalkeeper and another defender, if Cesc can recover from flu and Van Persie can gain some fitness and give us another option up front, we can start to win games and get some points on the board – then we’ll see where we are by the time we take on another top team…

The weekend certainly was crazy, but one thing we need do now is to beat Blackpool at home on Saturday and climb up the table! One thing that is for sure is that I’ll be a Young Boys supporter tonight… as they take on Sp*rs in the CL qualifier…

Come on Young Boys………!

  • Kodjo

    @ Dev

    playing against 10 men is no guarantee that you will win the game…at higher levels it actually disrupts the flow of the game…l’pool didnt need to change anything with loss of j.cole as they were already defending deep around the 18 yard box…

    walcott was sent in as a second striker to occupy the centre halves however that did not work as l’pool cont to defend deep and narrow…

    wenger reacted quickly by sending on van persie and switching walcott to the wings that created space for nasri and rosicky in the middle of the park…bcos l’pool started to double up along the flanks…on walcotts side as well

    you’d have to give credit to l’pool for a defensive master plan as they shut out arshavin…they has gerrard, kuyt and johnson tripling up on him any time he got the ball that meant efectively only nasri could link up with chamakh…that explains the ineffectiveness of our attack in the last third…..with the 4-3-3 system the idea is always outnumber the opposing players…unfortunately we had 2 against 3 in the final third …

    if eboue had sstayed on the flanks then we could have created chances by leaving space in the middle of the park but bcos he kept cutting in it meant all l’pool had to do was to keep their shape…agger just sat deep acting as a spare centre back at times

    arsenal will have to come up with solutions to this kind of deep defending this season if we want to win games…bcos trust me teams will take cue from y’days game.

    all in all i’m happy that wenger made the necessary tactical adjustments asap unlike in the past when he’d wait till the last 15 minutes…he ruthlessly pulled out wilshere who is to blame for the goal….and not almunia.

    sure almunia flapped at 2 or 3 crosses into the box…but for that goal i will cut him slack as he had just set his feet expecting the ball to go across the face of the post….more than 90 percent off fans also expected the ball to fly across the post…at least he made an attempt to save the ball but was beaten by the sheer pace of the ball.

  • Berth

    @ Kodjo: A good observation but some of your statements are mere assumption. I feel we where unable to break Liverpool because we weren’t moving the ball quickly and coupled with the fact that Nasri and Diaby where holding on to the ball for so Long without any clear ambition or purpose.

    When we had hleb this parking of bus by teams was not an issue because he had a way of turning, dribbling and freeing players in the final third with short and precise passes; that is what Nasri lacks, even fab isn’t as effective as Hleb was.

    There is no point trying to be solo on Alumnia, he messed up on the goal, simple. We need a good GK and a CB, but most importantly we need Nasri to watch tapes of Hleb (my opinion). I see similarities in both players save that one is a better dribbler while the other is a better shooter and goal scorer.

  • vj

    apparently djourou trained yesterday ans says that he will be fit for saturday

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    @ Berth:
    You keep comparing Hleb and Nasri to each other, are you aware that one was predominantly a winger (who generally run at defences) and the other is predominantly a central midfielder (who collect and distribute the ball)?

    I mean, John Terry is better at defending than Nasri and Rooney as far more incisive – but it’s disingenuous to compare them.

    @ Kodjo:
    I agree with everything you said – well reasoned.

  • dean

    So nice of Arsene to say other clubs were after him but he decided to sign a big fat new contract with us instead, despite winning nothing for 5 years. Its like me telling my long term girlfriend that other girls fancy me but after consideration i’ve decided to stay with her. What she would say back is unprintable and I would also be missing two parts of my lower regions!

  • dean

    To be honest I am sick to death of the Wenger lovers continuing to back him even when it is clear he has lost the plot. If not replacing players who have walked or improving the squad, you would think he would want to start the season with our strongest team. How come the likes of Kuyt, Torres etc can manage to manage to recover from their world cup exploits and they played far more pitch time than Cesc. Once again his false promises fail to materialise and we find ourselves 3 world class players short of being able to compete for siverware this season. Even worse he has failed to clear out enough of the dross that continue to weaken the quality of the team. Denilson, Rosicky, Almunia, Fabianski etc. You have to say that for 45 min`s yesterday the back four looked as solid as i have seen for a while but once again the man behind them lets them down not just with the goal but also his lack of domination of the box and his inability to get off his line in time and a pathetic sense of timing or punching of a ball. Then when he finally decided to make sub`s (suprise, suprise we went a goal behind)he takes off Eboue who was one of our best players in the first half and leaves lazy/unintrested Arshavin on for 90 mins. The man has not got a clue. Other clubs wanted him, dont make me laugh, if Wenger was based at any of the other so called big four, he would have been sacked a long time ago.

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    Dean, Fabregas broke his leg not 6 months ago. He wasn’t fully fit over the summer, he hasn’t had a rest properly, because despite not playing much he still took part in the full training program. What would be the point in throwing him in on Sunday and then having him tear a hamstring or some other post break niggling injury and be out for the season? You really can’t compare Fab to Torres or Kuyt.

    In fact, as you’ve mentioned Torres, you only have to look at him last season with Liverpool rushing him back every time only for him to pull up injured again and mis another game.

    I would agree with you about Arshavin/Eboue, I would certainly taken off the Russian, but I suppose you have to consider the fact that he can make something from nothing, where as Eboue is not quite as magical, despite his effort.

  • http://worldofarsenal Josiah

    i say point gained. top 4 side, fair enough we didnt win and maybe could have done, but we didnt lose either. You never know when other top 4 sides play liverpool they could lose, which would mean it was deffinately a point gained. Im happy with out season opener because we had wilshere starting, RVP on the bench and cesc didnt even travel, also song didnt feature in the game. so to salvage a draw im happy.

  • vj

    to be fair guys considering our first team for this season, assuming we get a GK and CB, id say5 players were missing, GK, CB, cesc, song, and RVP. A draw at Anfield is a decent result on the face of it. But we did dominate most of the game, and we maybe should have done better, still decent start, both man u and chelsea looked good. Now we need to string 4 to 5 wins together

  • walter

    @Dean: Funny you say we should buy 3 world class players. Fine with that. Then you say we should get rid of atleast 5 players and I think you want more.

    So if you were the manager we would be ever shorter in players as this would mean 5 gone (at least) and only 3 in. What will you do with the injury crisis? Play yourself?

    And wasnt Cesc was ill with a chest infection. It was a good job you did some research before posting a load of rubbish wasn’t it.

  • theusualsuspect

    Kieran – I must say Dean has got some very vlaid points. If you look back into time then you will see Wenger has developed an image of being miserly with the club’s finances and having a natural aversion to profligacy. On the pitch Arsenal seem to have been the opposite on Wenger’s watch. He brought to English football skilful attacking full backs In Sylvinho, Ashley Cole, Gael Clichy and maybe soon Keiran Gibbs. However with unearthing meat-and-drink solid centre halves and a pair of safe hands between the sticks Wenger’s record is far less impressive. The catalogue of disasters includes Pascal Cygan, Oleg Luzhny, Rami Shabaan, Phillippe Senderos and February 2001’s suppressed trauma of seeing Gilles Grimandi and Igor Stepanovs helplessly on the receiving end of a Dwight Yorke not seen so rampant since a night in a hotel room with a young Katie Price and some blue pills.

    In some cases Wenger got lucky; the headless chicken act of Kolo Toure had mellowed for a few years in the mid noughties and worked well with Sol Campbell in 2004. Sol was by far Wenger’s greatest defensive signing, it was however hardly an act of managerial genius. Most people with Championship Manager 2 and a PC would have tried to sign an out of contract Campbell in 2001, all it needed was enough wedge to match the likes of United, Liverpool, Barca and Madrid for wages, something Arsenal have lacked since that particular summer onwards with the Ashburton Grove project.

    It doesn’t take a financial genius to work out that Arsenal’s hands have been tied financially since the move from Highbury; however the finances that have been available since have not been distributed proportionately throughout the squad. For all its faults the midfield and attack can still hold up to the rigours of sustaining an interest in challenging for silverware, the defensive five on the other hand have been woefully inept and threadbare. Of the talent that has been there Vermaelen cannot handle the threat of a Drogba or a Rooney in the way Keown used to deal with Van Nistleroy and Gallas had often lacked mental coolness in the heat of the battle. Almunia and Jens filled the number one shirt at times adequately but were never good enough as a custodian for a Champions League side.

    In reserve we’ve had Silvestre, a nightmare that has thankfully passed, however with Koscielny by his own admission needing time to adapt to the Premier League and Djourou prone to injury, Kyle Bartley on loan, Hardvard Nordtveit an unknown quantity and the ever present fear of seeing Fabianski’s name on the starting line up, there is little to suggest our defence frailties are any less than they were last season. The upshot is that few people are convinced that Wenger has even scratched the surface of addressing the decline of Arsenal’s defence since the last of his inherited six giants hung up their Arsenal boots in 2004. If Wenger allows the transfer window to close on 31st August with no significant additions he must be held to account for this.

    Much has been said about the financial position of Arsenal, however Liverpool have still retained much of their talent, Spurs have a Champions League foothold and Man City have plenty of money to throw around. Arsenal’s business plan for Ashburton Grove has always been reliant on Champions League qualification, the threat of failure to do so would be Arsenal’s financial equivalent of the SS Richard Montgomery, the sunken Thames Estuary warship off Sheerness which holds enough explosives to equate to a nuclear explosion. It’s a threat of cataclysmic disaster that’s ever present and could blow up at any minute, though many have perennially lived comfortably with its presence choosing not to dwell too much on the time bomb that lives in their midst. Should Arsene and the board fail to be pro-active in nullifying this threat by spending on defensive measures by the end of this calendar month the residents of small seaside town in Kent may well have their own metaphorical example of what happens when you ignore a time bomb.

  • Bonathan

    I’d agree that on the whole, wenger hasn’t had th best of records when it comes to signing centre halves. As you say, campbell was an obvious choice. Credit for vermaelen though. and i’d also like to stick up for jens lehman who was on the whole, an excellent keeper.

    Our defence is a worry and we are all hoping for a really good centre back to come in. At the moment, we are not only short on number but there are a few too many question marks over what we have.

    Suppose that Kos doesn’t settle well into the premiership and ends up being a bit of a cygan. Where would that leave us? the defence is what sets us apart from chelski and man utd without doubt.

    i am however, still fully behind wenger. at least until the end of the transfer window anyway!

  • theusualsuspect

    @kieran – But Fabregas was able to, and wanted to, travel to Mexico City to play for Spain. Hasn’t had a rest? He’s just had a months holiday in the sun, how much rest does he need at his age

  • Bonathan

    i know i keep banging on about this centre back but here i go again….
    Wenger was obviously hoping to sign an established centre back to play alongside vermaelen even when he signed koscielny. There was an official bid turned down for jagielka just after that signing. my feeling is that koscielny was orginally bought for the future and for back up (especially while he got used to the premiership)

    Wenger has obviously struggled to find what he wants. I would have loved jagielka, but after the circus moyes created around lescott the last year it was always going to be tough to prise him away. There’s been plenty of rumours but the only ones i think might have had anything in them are mertersacker and spahic.

    It will be interesting to see who we end up getting. I can’t help thinking thogh, after hearing one of his latest comments on the subject, (“we are a bit short in defence, just numbers wise though”) that he is maybe just going to settle for some second rate player to plug up the numbers.

    I hope i’m wrong, i really think we need the competition back there. We reportedly offered £12-£14 for the Jag depending on what paper you read. I tend to think it was at the lower end of that scale, but even so, that sort of money is obviously available and you’d expect a really good centre back for that.

    as for the goalkeeping situation. fulham are going to be laughing if they get given instead of schwartzer.

  • walter

    I love how people like to say how bad Arsene Wenger is at finding and coaching defenders. They always seem to go back to George Graham and give him as an example of a great “defensive” coach. And surely the statistics should back that up as well, right? I mean, the 80′s and early 90′s were the old days when defenders could cut attackers in half with a tackle from behind, when a ‘keeper could pick up a backpass (one of the main reasons for the death of the traditional English “hoofer” playing defense), and when there were ZERO great foreign attacking players in the League. So surely GG’s defensive record as Arsenal manager was better than AW’s, right??????

    Goals conceded per game under GG = 0.898
    Goals conceded per game under AW = 0.885

    Hmmmmmm. So Arsenal, despite the back-pass rule, the tackle from behind rule, and the influx of extraordinary foreign attackers like Drogba and Torres and Van Nistelroy and all the others, have conceded fewer goals per game under AW than under GG. Hmmmmmm.

    People make it sound as if we have been conceding goals left, right and center over the past few years when in reality there are only 3 teams in England that have conceded fewer. One of them, Chelsea, spent a fortune that we couldnt afford on their defense. Another one, Liverpool, play boring defensive football and score far fewer goals than we do (and they have finished below us 2 of the last 3 seasons). The third, Manchester United, have of course been the exception that proves the rule in English Football for the past 20 years.

    People seem to think that having a defense like we had with Seaman, Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Bould and Keown should be the norm. No, that is the exception. What we have now is the norm. What we have now is what clubs generally have to put up with, unless they play ultra-defensive football or have a sugar-daddy to buy anyone in the world, no matter what the cost. A mix of the sublime and the ridiculous. We can hope that Chesney, Bartley, Gibbs, Nordtveit etc mature and bring us a new great dawn of defending. But that is just a hope.

  • Bonathan

    There’s no denying that we’ve lacked a bit of solidness at the back in recent seasons though. you’re playing blind man if you think the contrary and not even arsene would agree with you, just read his quotes.

    there were actually 4 teams with a better defensive rocord last season but anyway, there’s no use comparing us with all the clubs who finished below us when we are trying to finish above man utd and chelsea. Both of which conceded more than 20% less goals than us.

  • Goonerman

    @ dev
    maybe you are being a bit to negative about the result because if you think about it i could imagine chelsea, united and spurs going to liverpool and getting beating. we were playing a team that were buzzing about a new so called era at the club and the sending off seemed to get their spirits up, they came out fired up and got a stupid goal, then we had 45 mninuted to break down a pretty solid team without our two best players in cesc and van persie, i really dont think a point away at anfield is a band result and its something to build on.

    sonme of the people on here are critisicing wenger for not playing van persie and fabregas but maybe we should just believe wenger that cesc did have an infection which he could of easily caught once he got back from mexico and we all know van persie’s injury history so why not give hinm 15 minutes like he did and let him use this week to intensivley train to get fit for blackpool which im sure he is doing, if you add fabregas, van persie and song to our line up it would be pretty impressive and hopefully the rest he gave those guys will help us in the long term by preventing stupid injuries!

  • Berth

    Serious Bonathan. You have got a good point. However, as long as we do not get someone who can shot Drogba like Vidic and Rio always do we dont stand a chance.

  • Sam

    I’m reserving any opinion till 1/Sep.

  • Kodjo

    @ Berth

    When you say moving the ball quickly ….to whom? Nasri was basically on his own… sure he could have been direct but he was always faced with 3 defenders around chamakh. nasri had limited options as eboue was not offering the necessary width and arshavin was marked out.

    diaby had to keep an eye on j.cole and help wilshere out as well. sure in the 2nd half apart from the first 15 mins diaby was okay as he didnt have to worry about j.cole anymore.

    i’m sure we both agree that nasri is not hleb….so you’d be asking too much of him…and basically comparing 2 disimilar players….Kieran has already touched on this so i wont say much.

    as much i’d love diaby & nasri to move the ball quickly …i’d rather they keep possession than to give it away cheaply. some fans were critisizing diaby for giving the ball away last season now he is keeping the ball and actually played in song’s role against l’pool it has become a problem??? i guess diaby can’t win……

    Berth what assumptions did i make ???

  • Berth

    @ Kodjo: Your tactical assumption. And of cos Nasri and Diaby don’t move the ball the way that suits our game which involves quick movement and swift passes – based on what I saw on Sunday that didn’t happen and the players you have to hold responsible is the two central midfielders on that day which happened to be Diaby and Nasri I would not want to invlove Wilshere ( I think he still needs to go out on loan).

    I do talk about Hleb a lot because I do know how much we miss his ball retaining ability and precise passing – I will pay anything to have him and flamini back.

  • edison

    youve got to get over hleb and flamini. They were excellent, and we know they were and thats why Arsenal were so successful, but them times have passed and now we should focus on what current players we have.

    Diaby played well, although i always think he is more effective in an attacking role but with wilshire and nasri pushing forward he was made redundant in sundays game.

  • Berth

    Edison I know I should forget them.

  • Bonathan

    seen as i enjoy throwing my 2 pennies worth in, i will. I’d take nasri over hleb any day.

  • AmriGooner

    Yes, Tottenham lost 3-2 in their champions league qualifier match against swiss Young Boys.
    Champions league is for the big ones only.

  • Berth

    Not in this world Bonathan – Nasri could actually if he is willing to learn.