Reds Lose Ground On Champions League Spot
Rodgers started with a very protective midfield line up consisting of Allen, Henderson AND Lucas. Whilst it was clear the aim was to protect the recently changed back three due to the missing Martin Skrtel, the overly protective set up had a massive effect on Liverpool's attack.
Raheem Sterling was chosen to start up front whilst Daniel Sturridge made the bench. Mario Balotelli who is apparently "injured" did not even feature in the line up.
Things started poorly for Liverpool who struggled to deal with Arsenal's immediate pressure. The Gunners were determined to set the pace and certainly flustered the Reds from the off. As the Reds eventually settled into the game refusing to let Arsenal through, they would find themselves regretting a great chance involving Markovic and Sterling.
A great break enabled Markovic to make a run into the box, his decision making though perhaps was not at its best. Either that or he didn't have the confidence to strike, whatever the reason he opted to make a poor pass to Sterling who with an outstretched leg just couldn't quite convert.
It was clear the Reds would live to regret their missed opportunities and it wasn't long before Arsenal punished.
At 36 minutes the home side got their chance when Bellerin took a left footed shot from inside the box and swept it around Simon Mignolet. It was a real shame because Mignolet had kept the Reds in the game with two fantastic saves just moments before but the Reds were now behind.
Three minutes later and Liverpool had a free kick in a dangerous position to deal with. This is where Mignolet perhaps let himself down slightly after such a good start. The free kick from Ozil was a good one but Mignolet should have perhaps been placed better and failed to deal effectively with the chance.
And so the Reds found themselves 2-0 down in the space of three minutes, yet there was still worse to come.
Just five minutes later and Arsene Wenger's side had found another goal. Alexis Sanchez had managed to create himself a bit of space just outside the box and with a fantastic strike had beaten Mignolet. The Reds were now 3-0 down before the stroke of half time after eight minutes of madness.
I never expected Liverpool to win ths game, I perhaps was clinging on to the hope of a score draw but I certainly never thought we would be battered. At half time it felt like there was no hope and with only a half fit Daniel Sturridge left on the bench to create any real sort of impact the Reds were ultimately doomed.
Sturridge immediately replaced Lazar Markovic at the start of the second half. The first incident of note for Liverpool would be a booking for Emre Can. At the time it didn't matter but a silly challege late on would see Can dismissed.
Whilst the Reds managed to keep out Arsenal for the majority of the secod half and created a few chances, they couldn't quite convert. Unfortunately for the Reds Sturridge was also barely able to get himself on the ball and it was surely an act of desperation from Rodgers to bring him back so soon.
A slight positive for Liverpool occurred at approximately 75 minutes in when Raheem Sterling won a penalty. I expected Sturridge to step up for this one but it was in fact Jordan Henderson who just about converted the penalty for the Reds.
For a short while the boost of the penalty appeared to spur Liverpool on, after all, one more goal atthis stage could have created a very nervy end for Arsenal. The positivity soon faded though as a few minutes later Emre Can was given his marching orders. It was a silly challenge from Can who will now miss Liverpool's masssively important FA Cup tie against Blackburn on Wednesday evening.
Now down to ten men, the Reds had to deal with the ever increasing Arsenal pressure who clearly weren't content with just the three goals. A minute into extra time they found themseves a fourth. Assisted by Alexis Sanchez, Oliver Giroud was able to score from outside the box with a strike that flew into the top left hand corner.
This match was painful to watch. At stages it felt like Liverpool were going to be able to put a mark on the game but by missing vital chances it was always going to be an uphill struggle at a ground we rarely win at.
I've been prioritising the FA Cup for a long while now because I had a feeling it would be the only thing we had left to cling to. The game against Blackburn now is huge, without a potential FA Cup win the season has been pretty terrible and who's to say it can't get worse?
To even have a snfiff of a chance of getting back into the top four Liverpool must hope United slip up. United are capable of a few slip ups in my opinion but in order for the Reds to stand a chance we must go on a near perfect run which I can't see happening.
Ah well, we may as well try to stay positive???
Next up for Liverpool is Blackburn in the FA Cup. A match preview will be available on the blog on Tuesday evening.