Liverpool opened the new season with a thriller at the Emirates Stadium. The Reds produced some scintillating attacking football in racing to a four goals to one lead. Defensive frailties however, were once again exposed, in a second half Arsenal comeback. Cheers of relief greeted the final whistle as the traveling Reds fans rejoiced in taking all three points.
Liverpool Open The New Season With A Thriller
Liverpool fans, watching the game, should have just as many questions as answers in regards to the opening performance. Jurgen Klopp’s team started very poorly against a weakened Arsenal side. The Londoners were on the front foot for most of the opening half, until a piece of free kick magic from Philippe Coutinho, levelled the game just on the stroke of half time.
Klopp’s team built on the Coutinho wonder strike and dominated after halftime, scoring three classy second half goals by the sixty third minute. At four goals to one down, Arsenal looked a beaten side, and a total humiliation was possible. The Gunners to their credit, struck back with two goals via Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers. Liverpool attempted to manage the game, but their natural attacking instincts left them open to increased Arsenal pressure. Referee Michael Oliver’s final whistle ended Arsenal’s comeback hopes in the ninety fifth minute of the game.
Things We Learned
- The left back position is a problem for the Reds. Alberto Moreno produced a disastrous performance, filled with positional errors and rashness. The Spaniard dived in recklessly to concede a needless first half penalty. Moreno was once again caught out of position as his direct opponent Theo Walcott found easy space and slotted home Arsenal’s opening goal. Jurgen Klopp will have to procure a left back of stature, in order to shore up Liverpool’s obvious weakness.
- Sadio Mane provides Liverpool with a scary direct threat. Mane showed Olympic class speed to race on to a simple down the sideline pass, from there he jinked around two Arsenal defenders before dispatching a rocket of a shot with his weaker left foot. Sheer pace is something Liverpool have lacked for a long time, and Mane looks to have already settled in well.
- Fitness levels are sometimes an overlooked part of the modern game. Klopp and his coaching staff have often championed the importance of a strong pre-season. Liverpool at times in this game simply overpowered and ran through Arsenal.
- Destroyers, such as Javier Mascherano and Nemanja Matic come into their own when protecting the lead for their teams. Liverpool are lacking this very type of player. Matic would have screened and destroyed any Arsenal attempts at a comeback, if he was wearing a black shirt at the Emirates. Controlling the game when teams have built a big lead is important, but more importantly are the close games, the 1-0 and 2-1 score lines whereby teams have to shut the opponent out rather than to keep all out attacking. Successful teams traditionally have an ability to edge games and to manage leads. Liverpool will need to address this facet of their game, in order to truly challenge for the top spot this season.
Early Signs Of Progress
Jurgen Klopp has a lot to digest after this first game. Alberto Moreno has become an alarming liability. Liverpool’s coach must surely be contemplating signing a left back of note, in order to gain more defensive stability. Sadio Mane conversely, now looks to be a very shrewd signing. Mane’s electric pace and finishing will win games for the Reds this season. Despite the season being in its infancy, Klopp can point to winning three points away, at a traditionally tough fixture for Liverpool, as a sign of potential progress.