Liverpool’s Demolition Day
Liverpool faced Arsenal at Anfield looking to gain revenge for the 0-2 reversal they suffered in the first fixture between these two teams. During my discussions with fellow Liverpool and Arsenal fans leading up to the game, I had thought the game would be a cagey, and close, affair between the two teams given that Arsenal’s defence had been miserly throughout most of the season and Liverpool’s defence was their weakest link.
How wrong was I?
The opening twenty minutes was arguably the most entertaining and enthralling bit of football played this season in the Premier League. Liverpool decided that the best form of defence was not to allow Arsenal anywhere near their back four, and they pressed and harried the Arsenal players into submission. An opening goal in the first minute of the game was the best way to settle any nerves and Liverpool did not allow Arsenal time to settle on the ball and control the tempo.
Koscielny and Metersacker have been an outstanding defensive partnership at the heart of the Arsenal defence this season as they have covered for each other and snuffed out attacks before they develop. This game, however, was arguably their worst of the season as they (and the entire Arsenal team) were constantly caught out of position and were punished severely by Liverpool. Mesut Ozil, who has had a mixed season thus far, did himself no favours with a listless performance but he was not the only culprit in the team. The only player who seemed to play with any sense of pride was young Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Liverpool’s Philip Coutinho had an outstanding game, buzzing around the park and assisted Daniel Sturridge with a glorious through ball. He also had another moment in the second half where he bamboozled three Arsenal defenders and played another eye-of-the-needle pass that Jordan Henderson was unable to finish. Raheem Sterling has developed in leaps and bounds this season, and had another great game with two goals and his all-round running. Although Brendan Rodgers quickly jumped on the hyperbole train with his comments after the game, Sterling is a great raw talent who should only continue to improve if he maintains a consistent level of performance.
Liverpool played exceptionally well, but the target of achieving Champions League football should remain the main objective for this season. A league position higher than fourth place would be a bonus, but those “this is our year” fans should just relax and keep it calm.
Arsene Wenger described Arsenal’s performance as an “accident” and will be hoping that his team bounces back quickly against Manchester United on Wednesday night. In the bigger scheme of things, Wenger will be hoping to avoid a new collective noun that popped up on Twitter yesterday “An Arsenal of no trophies”.
Poor David Moyes.
He is in a catch-22 position and there seems to be little that he can do to change anything.
On the one hand, there are those commentators and fans who say that “he needs to be given time” to stamp his authority on this Manchester United team. He needs to be judged over the course of two to three years before it can be concluded whether or not he is a good manager. There are other factors to be considered here such as the poor state of the team he was bequeathed by Alex Ferguson, and how this first season was always going to be a difficult one of transition. David Moyes doesn’t help himself when he celebrates a goal like this against a team that is bottom of the table.
On the other, more reactionary hand, there are those people who are saying there is no point in prolonging the inevitable – just sack him now and move on. This argument states that Moyes has never won any major silverware during his time as a manager, and as a direct result the players he manages will never respect him. The majority of the Manchester United team have won multiple medals and have a winning mentality. How can they ever respect a man like Moyes who brings hard work and determination but no winning credentials. This would never have happened to Mourinho or Cappello or Hiddink because they have won stuff.