Ramsey Stunner Leaves Reds Reeling
Liverpool fell to a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates on Saturday as they Reds failed to make a botched up 3-5-2 formation work after a late drop out from Glen Johnson forced Jon Flanagan to take his place. The youngster along with Aly Cissokho struggled to deal with the strength of Arsenal down the wings and the eventual result was a poor one for the Reds. A change in formation in the second half for Liverpool still didn't help matters as our prolific forwards failed to find the net this time out.
It's a strange game to comment on because we actually didn't play that bad but then neither did we play well. Arsenal were extremely good and proved they deserve to be top of the pile at the moment but when you look at the goals conceded Liverpool couldn't really have done much about them, especially the latter.
In the run up to the game both Liverpool and Arsenal fans found themselves getting even more excited after watching Chelsea lose earlier in the day to Newcastle. A win for either side here would mean 1st spot and control of the league, the incentive could not be higher.
The majority of Liverpool fans pre match knew it would be a tall order for Brendan Rodgers' side to pick up all three points here but with the fire power of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez there is always a chance.
The match began at a very high tempo with both sides gunning for a positive start. Simon Mignolet found himself being called into action early on whilst Liverpool's Jordan Henderson found it hard to believe his luck when he continued a run into the box, space all around him, he appeared to be flustered by his choices and perhaps took his shot on too early. I really like Hendo but this is the one thing I always mention about him, his hesitation, if he just had the confidence to go with his first choice he'd be even better than he already is but he's still young and constantly improving and in fairness to Henderson he gave his all yesterday.
Just before the 19 minute mark Arsenal found their first goal of the night. A fast break caught Liverpool's wingback off guard as Sagna sent in a cross to Santi Cazorla. His initial effort smashed out off the post but his quick reactions were better than Skrtel's who could only watch as the resulting strike flew into the back of the net. It was a lovely finish from Cazorla and whilst Liverpool perhaps played dangerously allowing him the space in the first place, I struggle to see how a defence and a goalkeeper getting up from an initial save attempt are supposed to reposition themselves for a rebound. It was just a good goal and a bit unlucky for Liverpool that the rebound fell nicely.
Shortly after the Arsenal goal there was another situation that left Liverpool frustrated. A free kick awarded to Luis Suarez was taken quickly by the Uruguayan, the pass found Sturridge who set up Henderson and Jordan tapped the ball into the back of the net. I couldn't see what was wrong with it and I honestly think in some games it would have stood but Atkinson was adamant about booking Sagna, my thought was that surely he could have dealt with that afterwards but the referee has since come out and said that if he didn't deal with the situation at that time he would not have been able to book Sagna afterwards. I'm not familiar with the exact set of rules for this scenario but I do feel it was a bit harsh.
Of course, it's hard to say how much of a difference an early goal for Liverpool would of had in this game, I personally still think Arsenal would have gone on to win but it would have made the Reds' lives easier if they were level at 1-1 at this stage.
Increasing pressure from Arsenal in the first half eventually had Liverpool praying for the whistle. It was clear the original set up with the players available wasn't going to plan and something would need to change in order to try and make an improvement in the second half.
Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on the newly fit Philippe Countinho immediately for the second half in place of Aly Cissokho. The change resulted in a reshuffle in defence with Liverpool now going for four across the back.
Liverpool did not feel the benefits of their more secure set up at first because Arsenal found their second of the game just before the hour mark. There was no way Liverpool could have dealt with this one it was simply a cracking goal from the in form Welshman Aaron Ramsey. His strike was taken perfectly and he placed it just above the stretched hand of Mignolet and just below the bar. Sometimes you just have to stand back and say fair play and this was one of those moments.
Things already looked difficult for Liverpool but now they really had a mountain to climb. Philippe Coutinho as always was creating some space and some action but he was a bit rusty himself what with this being his first game back.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge may not have found the net on Saturday but they weren't playing badly either. Suarez particularly had his flashes as always and he caused Arsenal some concern on several occasions. A chance late on from an angle went agonisingly close to goal but trickled just wide and it was clear it just wasn't going to be Liverpool's day in front of goal.
A 2-0 loss at the Emirates for me as bad as it looks isn't actually too terrible. Arsenal played extremely well and deserved the win, the goals were hard to deal with and I feel if Liverpool were able to set up as they wished with Glen Johnson and perhaps also Enrique then the story may have been slightly different. Of course a win here would have been absolutely brilliant, even a draw but you can't fault Arsenal at the moment and so Liverpool must just hold their hands up, take the defeat and concentrate on their next game, after all the Reds are still very much in the midst of all the action which is exactly where they need to be when Arsenal too eventually have a slip up.
I asked you what your thoughts were on the game on Twitter and here are some of the responses I received...
Next up for Liverpool is Fulham at home.
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