Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Victory at Anfield a doddle if not for these mistakes. Analysis

By 1970's Gooner

I call it as I see it and what I saw was a team capable of winning this game easily but I am afraid Wenger's tactics and crucially his substitutions conspired to allow Liverpool to score three goals against us and snatch 2 crucial points away.

Firstly it was obvious that Klopp would have adopted the same tactics employed recently when they faced the bigger teams. High tempo and hard pressing from the front and especially the opponent's key players in midfield thus cutting the supply to the front men. That is how they knocked four against Man City and three against Chelsea (both away).

Wenger and the Arsenal players seemed unprepared to counter this tactic. Mertesacker was continually harassed and forced to make hasty clearances. More importantly Ozil was closed down immediately by at least two, sometimes three men, as soon as he came anywhere near the ball.

This meant that there was no significant ball possession resulting in reacting to the moves of the Liverpool players rather than dictating the game.

This absence of a player like Ozil capable of putting his foot on the ball and calming things down meant that there was no real outlet when the ball was cleared from the defence.

Ramsey partly but inadequately compensated for this by making those box to box runs which did bring the equaliser. But this forward thinking approach resulted in the game becoming an end to end affair rather than Ramsey playing the role of the stabilising player that could calm things down and help keep possession.

That is why I knew then that even if we did equalise their first goal we could not keep it up.

Secondly once we got ahead in the second half (around the 55 mark) we surrendered even more possession. Wenger then made two mistakes.

The first was failing to restrict Ramsey from continuing to play box to box. Ramsey kept going forward all the time, even in the last five minutes he was doing this. This meant that when we lost possession we had one less player defending in the midfield areas. And with Ozil running out of gas we were desperately short in that area. This put undue pressure on our defence.

The second had to do with the substitutions.

Wenger brought on Gibbs and The Ox for Cambpell and  Walcott at the 75 mark. However Cambpell should have been kept on, he was very diligent and reliable in his defending.

The Ox was, as it was proven, not. He predictably kept giving the ball away and with Ozil nowhere and Ramsey too often far up the field meant that we were desperately short of numbers defending the resulting attack.

It was Ozil that should also have been substituted at that juncture and not Cambpell! Ozil cannot defend in situations like these, it's obvious.  And Chambers was the man to bring on not the Ox!

These two substitutions (Gibbs and Chambers for Walcott and Ozil) would have made us more solid especially since the opponents were not really attacking with any particular plan or method and their passing  and crosses were imprecise.

And in the closing stages Wenger could have brought Gabriel on and not Arteta as he did on 87. This may have prevented Benteke's header on 90 .....

If we had won the game the confidence levels would have been sky high going into the Stoke game. Still we didn't lose and we nearly snatched it with City also failing to capitalise (although Leicester did).

There is still a long way to go yet but this title race is crying out for a contender to grab the bull by the horns and lead a forceful charge with confidence. The worrying aspect of this is that whenever we are presented with a chance of proving our credentials (to everybody including ourselves) we fail to do so.

Hopefully Sanchez may return against Stoke. He will add more thrust and fervour in our attacks which will be needed.

If he does start (which I doubt) it will be for Walcott.


Anonymous said...

The reality is that Liverpool deserved at least a draw and played with their B team

Anonymous said...

The errors hurt Liverpool. The near post clanger from Mignolet. The ref could easily have blown his whistle before the first goal which resulted in a doddery Sakho trying to defend when essentially "drunk" for several seconds. In addition Giroud's second was actually offside. Arsenal were slicker in possession but in no way deserved to win.