Liverpool Review: Some Good Bits, Some Bad & Some Very Ugly

Liverpool 3 – 1 Arsenal

In the end, defeat was unsurprising but from that defeat came a number of positives and pointers for the rest of the season.

It might have been so much better; Aubameyang and Pepe had chances to put us two, maybe three goals ahead before Liverpool scored. Pepe, in particular, will rue failing to beat Adrian when clean through on goal.

Don’t worry, monsieur; Steve Williams got an Arsenal side without much cash knocked out of the FA Cup at York in one of his early appearances for the club. Things which prove costly in the end happen to anyone.

Unai Emery will be encouraged by the strength of character shown by the squad. In particular, the youngsters who after a shaky start, stood toe-to-toe for almost the remainder of the first half. After the match, the Spaniard noted: “I think the team showed in one moment good character and it’s one step ahead we want to do.”

Yet, it was individual errors which, in a six-minute spell either side of half-time, proved our undoing. Matteo Guendouzi got the ball rolling with a shirt pull on Van Dijk before Matip’s pushing began; the midfielder then formed a ramp for Matip to use as he headed in the opening goal.

There’s something about the permed hair; David Luiz then had a ‘Sideshow Bob’ moment. An obvious shirt pull in the area, followed by the obligatory hands raised in an admission of guilt, meant Liverpool were awarded a penalty. Salah scored emphatically and the match was gone.

The Egyptian added the third with a fine solo goal; unstoppable. Any foul at that point gives the officials a choice over the colour of the card and Lord knows the VAR was determined to help Liverpool in any way possible.

This Was Anfield, Not Ebbsfleet

For Emery, the biggest lesson is trust; he must trust his front three together a lot sooner in matches when only two start. Alexandre Lacazette injected enthusiasm and danger into a flagging side but it was too little, too late.

It’s a tough call for the coach to make. Going with a front three from kick-off is brave but potentially more costly; less pressure in midfield offers Liverpool more room. However, the potential to disrupt and disturb the home side’s defence offers hope.

Football in hindsight is a wonderful sport; we’ve won every game with the perfect performance.

Jurgen Klopp admitted afterwards that he was surprised by Emery’s use of a diamond midfield. The players kept their shape. Too much was made of the space afforded Liverpool’s full-backs; their crossing was distinctly average. Where I would take is the personnel; Torreira must be the defensive base of that formation.

Emery also noted that we defended too deep, repeating the problem which surfaced at Newcastle with this shape. The gap between the attack and the rest of the team is too wide.

“It’s not all we wanted to do in the match because we wanted to keep the ball and keep possession better,” he said. “But their pressing was very strong and we didn’t break their pressing of the ball as much as we wanted.”

That’s not acknowledged when losing the ball close to our area is discussed. “Play the ball long” is the cry; so we cede possession further up the pitch and it still comes back. Not in such an immediately dangerous area but too quickly for us to regain our shape properly.

It’s important to remember who we played. European champions, second in the league and unbeaten at home in something like two years.

Not Ebbsfleet United away.

One, two, three

Gary Neville came up with the most specious argument for our defeat yesterday. None of the players had won at Anfield previously and didn’t understand what it takes. On the surface, it seems not an unreasonable assertion if you accept it from the psychological perspective.

It’s b*llocks, however. If that logic applied, Crystal Palace, for example, wouldn’t have won yesterday at Old Trafford which is as imposing a stadium as Anfield. Nor would they have won at the Emirates or Etihad last season.

Neville’s cod psychology just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Emery summed where we are perfectly: “We reduced the difference [between the two sides] from last year.”

Klopp is three seasons ahead of Arsenal in the rebuilding programme and still chasing the title dream. The Champions League soothes the sting somewhat…

“We need to be realistic but also confident in each training and the next match,” Emery believes. “Now we need to show how we can be different with other teams.”

Not too different to last season in the next match; we won the North London Derby although maybe with a clean sheet this season…?

Yesterday’s defeat but to shamelessly steal from Ian Dury, there are reasons to be cheerful.

’til Tomorrow.

41 thoughts on “Liverpool Review: Some Good Bits, Some Bad & Some Very Ugly

  1. Las says:

    Good day. Interesting post!
    You might be right YW but I wanted to se ourselves going toe to toe against L’pool. And I felt that Emery selection was awkvard, cowardish.
    It seems to me that Emery can not lose the “small team mentality” which made him and his respective team Sevilla great. It was his problem at PSG and it is his problem now here.
    Arsenal is a big team, we are not soaking up pressure than hitting back occasionally. We are the which is pressing. And I mean it tactically and strategically we don’t have the knowledge, skills, experience to fight this way. Yes, Arsenal definitely in the middle of transformation but I still feel we lost an opportunity for checking our progress. We might lose

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  2. jonnygunner says:

    I’m with you on everything you’ve written this morning YW-everything.
    My only gripe about our starting eleven is why the insistence on Xhaka ?I know he adds a bit of ‘steel’,but he’s a petulant bastard and,as stated in the week,is always sideways or backward passing…..I clocked several occasions yesterday where he put us completely under the cosh with the wrong choices.
    With Bellerin,Tierney and Rob Holding in that side,and with Lucas Torierra starting instead of Granit we’all be a different proposition.
    As you say YW,positives can be taken from a 3-1 loss.

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  3. Ferkov says:

    jonnygunner,

    As thumbed earlier, Xhakas benefit(s)?? are only available when the pace drops, and his flaws magnified when we are under press, which is paradoxically,I assume, the opposite to the idea of how Unai is playing here him.

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  4. Ferkov says:

    YW:
    Morning all.

    Who’s accompanying Holding in the defence?

    Papa is my preference, but bob has height for set plays. Matip didn’t need to outjump

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  5. Las says:

    but never without a fight.
    Going to details, Xhaka was a big mistake even going for a midfield diamond Torreira is better for every aspect. And Lacazette not starting…. it is cowardish

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  6. blazon says:

    Confidence.

    Have never seen before a penalty taken where the ball was struck viciously on a line OUTSIDE THE POST in the sure and certain knowledge it would bend back in like it had been told. Wow.

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  7. Ferkov says:

    Las,

    Leaving out Lacazette didn’t seem such a head scratch when the lineups came out. But when Cebalos started getting hustled off possession …pretty much from the off…. Lacas absence was apparent. Coupled with Xhaka’s shortcomings under press , we were fucked.
    Offensively still caused problems with 2 speedsters feeding off scraps. Playing laca as 10-8 and dropping cebalos deeper, and dropping Xhaka in the drink?
    I’m with Bill on Terrier. He wasn’t robust second half of last season……but that was a whole team thing, and he needs a chance alongside a ,hopefully more secure centre field.

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  8. C says:

    YW,

    For me Luiz. Thinks he can apply the dark arts to compliment Holding’s more solid, consistent defending.

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  9. C says:

    Tend to agree with all of that Yogi.

    I know Ceballos and Guendouzi did the dirty work, but that’s not their game and its why if we do go with a diamond in the future, putting Torriera at the base makes us go. Plus, with Luiz, we have a player who IMHO is better at playing those long diagonals or long balls into the channels than Xhaka in the PL.

    Pepe and Aubameyang even feeding on scraps looked lively and dangerous. Pepe was clean through and favored his left and I think the pace of the PL surprised him and that clearly played a part when it cut the angle down. Now making excuses for him, because he should of scored, but that looked like it played a part.

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  10. C says:

    I know Aubameyang bangs in the goals but Lacazette is our CF, period! He allows us to play and Aubameyang and Pepe will be soo much better. Lacazette not only is a target man, but he can play on the shoulder, on tight spaces and is the man that starts our press. There is a reason why he won Player of the Year.

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  11. Bill says:

    Thanks for the post yogi

    I think we have come a long way in the last 3 transfer windows and unlike last season I think we have a good chance to finish in the top 4 this year but the reality is we have a ways to go before we can compete with Liverpool or City. None of our current back 8 players would be regular starters for either team. Fortunately I believe our front office is smart enough to continue our rebuilding and hopefully we can steadily close the gap

    I don’t understand why Emery didn’t start Lacazette. Our front 3 are one advantage we have and leaving out Laca made no sense to me.

    I share everyone’s dislike of Xhaka but to blame him for our midfield’s inability to manage the game is searching for a scapegoat because we like all the other players. The reality is this was not a home game against Burnley and a midfield of willock, Guendouzi and Ceballos is not going to be able to manage the game against a team as good as Liverpool.

    Its a bit of a head scratcher as to why Torreira was left n the bench to start the game. I am beginning to think that Emery does not rate Torriera as highly as we do. Torriera was not very good in the second half of last season. Its been almost 2 months since the copa america finished and there is no reason to think that he is not match fit and ready to start.

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  12. C says:

    Missing the goal aside, Pepe certainly looked a player that is set to terrorize the PL. Fearless with the ball at his feet, strong, quick and plenty of pace. Van Dijk certainly wasn’t comfortable most stretches of that match trying to figure him out and he is arguably the best in the world.

    I can’t wait to see that front 3. Please please please Unai, start them against Spuds.

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  13. Woolwich Freddie says:

    ‘Morning. Well written, YW. Absolutely agree it’s important to remember we were away to the (mumbles) european champions. There were also, as there have been so far this season, reasons for hope. There were, however, also some reasons for concern. I expected defeat yesterday but needed a little more evidence of nous and battling to be convinced of the upward turn. I think Emery’s rep as a tactician took a little dent, too. Having said that, the enormity of the changes needed mean I think it reasonable to give the manager and players longer to get it right (in some more comfortable fixtures). Yesterday had some chinks of light but overall I am not encouraged. At least Pepe went past Van Dyck so everyone can shut up about how no one’s even gone past him in training.

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  14. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    YW, thanks for the write up. I think you may rose tinted spectacles on, because for me, UE was tactically inept. How would JM have approached that game. 4-5-1 and whatever you do lad’s “JUST DON’T LOSE!”. Is there any harm in going away from home to an opponent, who are physically more imposing, better with the ball to feet and tactically astute. To just park the bus and see out a goalless draw at all cost. Naivety spring’s to mind. Perhaps UE is only suited to winning cups NOT league’s

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  15. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    Also Xhaka didn’t actually have that bad a game. It was the inability of Guendouzi, Wilock and Ceballos to deal with the Liverpool press, which cost us. That game was not a game for players who need time on the ball. Torreira and Lava should have started. Unfortunately we don’t have anyone else to add steal to that midfield. Perhaps it might have been a chance to play 2 deep, holding, defensive midfielders in Torreira and Chambers

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  16. Blue Yonder says:

    Two things stand out for me that are ever-present: one, we keep missing scoring chances at critical stages of the game and, two, we keep making head-scratching decisions on defence – and without Mustafi. In terms of scoring, and despite our potential firepower, we have scored four goals in three games and that’s just not good enough.

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  17. jonnygunner says:

    YW:
    Morning all.

    Who’s accompanying Holding in the defence?

    Hey Blondie…I like big men..you know why?….they make a lotta noise when they come down 🤠🤠🤠🤠

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  18. jonnygunner says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare:
    Also Xhaka didn’t actually have that bad a game. It was the inability of Guendouzi, Wilock and Ceballos to deal with the Liverpool press, which cost us. That game was not a game for players who need time on the ball. Torreira and Lava should have started. Unfortunately we don’t have anyone else to add steal to that midfield. Perhaps it might have been a chance to play 2 deep, holding, defensive midfielders in Torreira and Chambers

    Xhaka did have that bad a game.
    For me-Guendouzi wouldn’t start anyway.
    Willock was fits and starts-not quite there.

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  19. C says:

    Leno
    Rb——Holding—-Luiz—-Lb
    ——Torriera—-Ceballos—
    Pepe——–ACM———–Aubameyang
    ——–Lacazette

    My thinking for the start of most matches even against the big boys because Ceballos does te dirty work and has that fight about him.

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  20. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    YW please you have to understand that UE is a cup competition manager. He doesn’t know how to win a league. He has one style of play and it doesn’t have anything to do with any kind of defensive play. When Steve Bruce gets the tactics spot on, in a game his team aren’t expected to win. Organised 2 bank’s of players. Lone striker breaking up play. 2 quick singer’s tracking back and counter attacking. Everyone else defending. I’m sorry but I just don’t understand why some of you on here, who watched us play in the George Graham era. Seen players like Tony Adams, Paul Davis, Gilberto Silva think that being defensive is taboo. Steve Bruce just showed Unai Emery how to get 3 points away from home against a team, who on paper are better than your own team.

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  21. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    C:
    Leno
    Rb——Holding—-Luiz—-Lb
    ——Torriera—-Ceballos—
    Pepe——–ACM———–Aubameyang
    ——–Lacazette

    My thinking for the start of most matches even against the big boys because Ceballos does te dirty work and has that fight about him.

    Ceballos couldn’t deal with the Liverpool press. He is not the solution. Just another Ozil/Miki.

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  22. HenryNorrisDialSquare says:

    C,

    PSG! Are you serious!? You realise they have no other competition in that league.

    If Burnley get something out of their game with the benefit fraudsters then you can all stuff the good points up your arse

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  23. C says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    Think that’s unfair because I thought he wasn’t great but he is still learning the PL. None of our midfielders did well against Liverpool’s press but I have seen him play and he will learn. Personally, prefer him Guendouzi from the start and think Torriera/Ceballos can be superb for us.

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  24. C says:

    HenryNorrisDialSquare,

    They don’t but have you also seen the other managers struggle far worst then Emery at PSG. Sevilla, will never win La Liga because they sell all their best players and lets be honest, if somebody not named Barca or one of the Madrid’s win their league, it would be more shocking than Leicester.

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  25. JonJon says:

    well, if we are going to lose make sure its against liverpool at anfield whilst our main rivals lose the same weekend to palace and newcastle.

    3 points next weekend and we have started the best we can. is emery the right man for the job? i dunno, i had my doubts after last years end of season collapse, but his job was never to win the league and challenge liverpool and city…. his job was to steady the ship after 22 years of one of the best managers we had and get us back into the CL whilest we changed the culture of the club in the background, something that declined with wenger as we held on to sentiment. we could have had both klopp and pep but wenger wouldnt go and now we have to wait for someone else.

    his contract is only for 2 years with the option for an extra year. we aint winning the league in that time so the chances are he’ll be gone anyway – but as long as we are back in champions league with a squad capable of pushing for titles its job done as far as im concerned and the next manager will be the guy to win the big ones.

    we always get tonked at liverpool – we new what was coming – everyone gets tonked at liverpool, but at least there was a plan this time- it was risky and it didnt pay off but there was a definate plan and if PEA and pepe score when they were one on one and PEA finds the net when adrian went missing its a different result. attacking mistakes cost us more than defensive ones. the plan was working, we just couldnt take our chanes and they were good chances – should have scored.

    on another note – ben stokes v the aussies – i was there!! amazing.

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  26. Bill says:

    C

    After the Burnley game Ceballos’ was so talented that he was not going to avoid the first year struggles move move past the learning curve. After yesterday’s game he is still need to learn the PL. It either one or the other but it can’t be both

    I am sure he may be a top player at some point in his career but it’s not likely we will see that in an arsenal shirt. Its not his fault the hype went over the top after the Burnley game but I think the notion that he can be the answer to our prayers in his first and only season here is probably not realistic

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  27. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    “but never without a fight.
    Going to details, Xhaka was a big mistake even going for a midfield diamond Torreira is better for every aspect. And Lacazette not starting…. it is cowardish”

    Laca isn’t fully fit, he even posted about getting back up to fitness on his insta etc. Not starting a player who’s not fully fit at Anfield seems…Wise imo.

    Torriera as well, he’s hardly had a breather in 1 year due to coppa America etc. Needs to be eased back, or else he’ll end up injured as well

    Xhaka for me, only seeems to be in team because he adds experience…Can’t see that lasting long

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  28. freddo says:

    In that sort of game, the team surely needed a back-to-goal player up front, and Laca is the only one in this line-up, as far as I can see.

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  29. Freddo says:

    There is something quite beautiful, though, about Emery’s strategy. When you’ve got two speed demons, you play a diamond and surrender the flanks and then hoist balls in behind their fullbacks. The only problem is that it didn’t work.

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  30. Bill says:

    May be Ceballos learned everything he needed to in this one bad game and now he will go back to being awesome and somehow avoid the rookie wall that almost every other inexperienced player runs into at some point in their first year in the PL

    MLF

    Every footballer who plays international football has to deal with the grind. It’s been 2 months since Torrira played the last full game in the Copa America. That is more of a breather then other big teams give their players. He has been with the team for over a month which should have given plenty of time to get himself ready. May be I am over reading this but It seems like Emery was going for his best defensive players and its difficult to understand why emery would leave Torrierra out if he thought Torreira would make the defense stronger.

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  31. andy1886 says:

    Freddo,

    This is the thing that worries me, there is a strategy, which is great, but often it isn’t one that suits the players we have to deliver it. Targeting the space behind the full backs could have worked but not when we are relying on Nacho, who unfortunately is well past his best and was never the most athletic, and AMN who isn’t even a full back or wing back, to take on the majority of the defensive burden. If Bellerin and Tierney had been match fit and on their game then maybe it would have worked, but odds were against us with the line up we had.

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  32. Lari03 says:

    It’s Emery’s job to choose the team so we can only watch.

    A lot of people probably expected a 4-3-3 and their disappointment was not seeing this. Xhaka played fairly, but a lot of people wish the team moves on from him.

    I know about the beauty of hindsight, but a different opinion would have been to use Lacazette if he were fit because Aubameyang misses a good number of chances, Pepe is yet to score in the premiership, and our chances of getting a result was dependent on
    attacking.

    We got a draw at Anfield in December/January 2018, because we set up to attack under Wenger and we were unlucky to get a point due to defensive errors.

    There were positives but it still feels like Emery underperformed. Time will tell though.

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  33. freddo says:

    andy1886,

    As Yogi points out, I don’t think Emery was too worried about their crosses. He had enough confidence in the aerial prowess of our center-backs against their forwards (as distinct from against their centrebacks at corners!). The plan was for our centre-back to head the crosses upfield towards our midfield, which would then fire it out to the wide guys. That would have worked if Torriera (nimble, quick turn) was at the base of the triangle. He wasn’t.

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