Liverpool Review: Shameful, Shambolic and Sh…

Liverpool 5 – 1 Arsenal

Where to begin after a performance like that? They say don’t hit a wasps nest with a stick but that’s what we did. Dressed in swimming trunks. Probably budgie smugglers given our incompetence. Someone on social media wrote that we had a “top 3 attack, a top 5 midfield and bottom 3 defence”. That sums it up. The defence, unchecked, could drag us relegated.

It’s a lesson Unai Emery won’t forget. A public demonstration of how bad his defenders are. The sight of Mustafi berating Lichtsteiner after his mistake in the equaliser was pure Spinal Tap; the German would make as many, if not more, devastating contributions in his 45 minutes on the pitch.

Should we talk of the slack marking or pathetic non-tackling? It’s harsh to pick on him when Sokratis and Lichtsteiner found themselves as guilty of those charges. It was a chastening experience to watch such experienced players get the basics so completely wrong. I knew they had a clusterf*ck in them individually but three players suffering brainfarts at the same time was car-crash football.

It puts the season so far into context and a disconcerting analysis of the recruitment team. Lichtsteiner, for all the experience he gathered, played like Bambi. Mustafi was Bambi’s mother after she got shot whilst Sokratis was Daffy Duck who wandered onto the wrong film set just as his rifle explodes in his face.

To some extent, this was foreseen and as such, leaves me sanguine. When you think we’ll lose 4 – 0 or fluke a 3 – 2 win beforehand, it underlines where we are at present: a country mile off the top four and the title is in a different county.

Still, we scored, eh. Hat-tip to Ainsley Maitland-Niles for that run and finish.

Not As Bad As Police Academy 7

Emery called it a “bad experience”. We’ve been here before. Losing by a hatful of goals at Anfield is nothing new; Wenger did it on a number of occasions so we’ve got the t-shirt and realised it’s a movie franchise with too many sequels. They get progressively worse as the stars of the initial film are replaced by straight-to-DVD jobbers.

He’s learning as well. Emery pointed his finger – in an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers kind of way – at the referee for awarding Liverpool two penalties. The second was soft beyond words in the same way the first was Sokratis’ stupidity which I can quite easily describe: crass. A player known to tumble at the slightest contact so what do you? You kick his calf on one leg and the opposite ankle from behind. Hmmm; I wonder what will happen?

Then again, to not award a penalty for the foul on Lacazette is the best argument for VAR I’ve seen this weekend. Unai is of the same opinion:

I think VAR is important – it’s coming next year, because I think it’s going to help the referees to take better decisions.

Yeah, but there are still feeble-minded officials to contend with. The theory is that not being in the ground will alleviate the pressure of the crowd. But the match official – the decision-maker – is still subject to those influences.

But that’s not Arsenal’s problem nor one we can influence.

Recruitment is the issue. Anyone who thinks we don’t need major surgery on the defence is deluding themselves. The bar is Mustafi. Is a player better than him? Sign him up. Stronger in the tackle than Lichtsteiner? Give him a pen. Less injury prone than Koscielny? You know what to do.

Diamond Eye or Goldeneye

The signing of Gary Cahill, even of a six-month loan deal, vexes some. In the sense that he has experience, it makes sense. At 33, I’d question the wisdom from a playing side. We’re struggling with pace and a high line; can he save the day?

It’s press speculation at the moment – Italian press speculation at that – so maybe we have someone else lined up. Diamond Eyes might need to take his sunglasses off if it proves to be true; his Stevie Wonder impersonation won’t impress anyone.

We have just two days to recover from this, to find a plan. Liverpool are far better than other teams in the division but Fulham have something to fight for on Tuesday. Thinking it will be easy to turn this around by then is just wishful thinking.

Unai Emery has questions to answer as well. It’s fairly obvious that a back-five with Lichtsteiner involved as one of the centre-backs doesn’t work so is a back-four a better option? That way he can drop Lichtsteiner and Mustafi.

It’s easy to think the coach and players owe us a big performance on Tuesday but to be honest, I’ll be happy with a winning one. Three points is important for confidence and that’s a fragile commodity in the players right now.

’til Tomorrow.

22 thoughts on “Liverpool Review: Shameful, Shambolic and Sh…

  1. tough watch yesterday (Becks helped) but not really a surprise.

    Whatever could go wrong did – early efforts to play out from the back were atrocious – selection a bit baffling – neither set up to defend, nor protect the defence, nor go all out attack, nor press…and then try/fail to hold high lines….tackle abysmally or not at all, ball like a hot potato….players not match fit and rushed back from injury….no organisation

    I’m not suggesting that Alan Partridge is in charge but…..

    I think I’d be going for some of the youth – surely there are players with potential we could call up as the elder statesmen are simply not up to it…

  2. To Ivan Gazidis: you are on record as stating that the 60k who buy the most expensive match tickets in the entire EPL for our home games in a shiny new stadium plus television revenues would be sufficient to compete with the elite European clubs in the transfer market – where has all this money gone?

    To Stan Kroenke: Your London based Bank of Kroenke works team are struggling to make ends meet right now so please have a whip round to get the lads some shin guards, training bibs and a couple of nominated drivers to achieve the mediocrity that you clearly crave.

  3. Im really miffed at the latest performances. I thought Emery had installed a tough clever professional streak in us. It’s the main thing that we lacked under Wenger, seems these players just revert to type.

  4. Great review. Accurate and balanced as always

    I think we have to avoid getting overly excited about a run of 22 unbeaten and not get overly pessimistic about some bad performances. We are what we are. Just like the last few years of the wenger era we are capable of putting together a good run of results but we are a 5th place team that has the talent in the Europa League which is exactly what we are doing. We have a really good striker and Torreira and Lacazette are good players but after that the talent level really drops off and it’s going to take some really brilliant management from our brain trust to rebuild this squad.

  5. There is absolutely no logic in bringing in Cahill. We can’t have Chelsea rejects coming to experience semi-retirement life at Arsenal!!! Just recall Chambers and pay the penalty for being dump!! We don’t need the experience from over 30 year old players!!Look at Litchsteiner, an absolute joke!!!

  6. Lichsteiner & Sokratis both have a bit of ‘needle’ in them , which is something we’ve lacked for a while.

    Unfortunately they’re not good enough to deal with the EPL on a regular basis so to play both (alongside Mustafi) against a power packed Pool was always going to end in tears. Add in AMN & we did well to keep it to 5.

    The disappointing thing was the lack of game management. I was hoping this issue would be improved post Arsene but it’s still there. To fall behind within 5 minutes of taking the lead is criminal.

    So …plenty to work on at London Colney over the next year or two. Hopefully we have the man to move us forward , but despite it being early days, I’m yet to be convinced.

  7. Not a very encouraging display of football. I turned the game off at half-time. I seriously wonder how Emery is going to work his way out of this kettle of fish.

  8. The form of Manchester united after the sack of mourinho has shown that players can perform when used in their right position..too much of tactics by coaches complicates matters…we need fast defenders and speedy scoring wengers..enough of ramsey, iwobi in the front

  9. I think we have to give Emery the benefit of the doubt. He inherited a squad which was built to play Wengerball but was a 6th place team with 6th place talent. I think the ability of any manager to improve individual players is heavily over rated and I think this year certainly adds more evidence.

    The thing which is difficult to accept is the fact that we have added 3 new defensive starters in Torreira, Leno and Socaritis and yet our defense looks as bad or worse then any time during the wenger era. That is extremely concerning and the Emery era will be a major bust if he does not get a handle on the team defense

  10. So Aubameyang had a total of 13 touches, of which 6 were from kickoff, in 71 minutes on the pitch.

    That equates to 1 open play touch every 11-12 minutes.

    A while back I mentioned deck chairs, a six pack of beers, and a good book for our forwards if there was no creativity?

    Guess what……………………

    I make no claims to be a soothsayer btw, just extrapolating the approach to arrive at the very obvious conclusion.

  11. It hasn’t taken long for the doom and gloom merchants to rush into print after the Anfield defeat. The encouraging unbeaten run earlier on is soon forgotten and Emery Out placards are no doubt being prepared.
    For heaven’s sake, the guy is only in his first season at the Ems and so are a number of his first-teamers.
    I seem to recall last Summer there were forecasts of a fair number of transfer windows needed before Unai Emery could be expected to re-build a new Arsenal to his satisfaction.
    With 5 months still to run this term, he is entitled to 100% support and so is the team he
    selects. 😉

  12. nicky,

    I agree that Emery deserves the opportunity to bounce back. How he manages that is the question. I still think the onus is on the players to close ranks and fight back. Will they/can they is the bigger question.

  13. “The disappointing thing was the lack of game management. I was hoping this issue would be improved post Arsene but it’s still there. To fall behind within 5 minutes of taking the lead is criminal.
    So …plenty to work on at London Colney over the next year or two. Hopefully we have the man to move us forward , but despite it being early days, I’m yet to be convinced”

    As some one living near Emirates and supported the Club for 5 decades, I kept my counsel when we had unbeaten run and got excited far too early. It hurts, looking at the way the team is collapsing. I am still not convinced whether Emery is the right man, but will wait until the end of the season to see what he does. What is worrying is our usual mid-Winter slump under Wenger, who packed the squad with useless players. He dismissed Van Dijk when he could have bought him cheaply when the player was playing in Scotland, shrugged away buying Kante counting pennies, but bought Xhaka paying more money etc.. I doubt whether goos players will be available in the January window. Of all the PL Club owners , particularly Americans, Kroenke is the only one who does not care for trophies or wins, and for him keeping the Club in the PL is all that matters.
    What we see is the result of not sacking Wenger atleast 4 years ago.

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