Arsenal v Liverpool is always an entertaining game, no matter the circumstance, but this one, in particular, was set up to be a thrilling affair. Chelsea handed the Reds the motivation earlier in the day with an unforeseen 5-2 loss against West Bromwich Albion. Arsenal, on the other hand, had come off the back of a period of progression.
Arsenal v Liverpool: Alexander-Arnold Silences Critics
Alexander-Arnold Proves Southgate Wrong
As the 90 minutes concluded, two things became clear. Liverpool are far from out of the top four race and, Trent Alexander-Arnold deserves a place in Gareth Southgate’s England side.
He looked like a player with something to prove; doubters to silence and an England manager to remind. Some players fold when faced with disappointment, but the top players use that disappointment to thrive. They see it as a challenge, an opportunity to showcase their talents. And Alexander-Arnold did exactly that in Arsenal v Liverpool.
Diogo Jota Comes Full Circle
If Diogo Jota’s goalscoring capabilities were doubted before the international break, his Portugal goals soon highlighted just how ruthless he is. And if you still weren’t convinced, then fast-forward to the second-half against Arsenal.
The forward, almost taking his omission personally, arrived onto the pitch as ruthless as ever. And, just three minutes later, the ball was in the back of the net via the substitute’s header. He changed the game. He made the difference. He turned those chances into goals. And that is what Liverpool needed: A clinical, ruthless goalscorer.
Jota turned Alexander-Arnold’s passes into meaningful goals to come full circle. His first Liverpool goal came against Arsenal at Anfield. Now, months later, he has just netted his 11th and 12th of the season.
Week in week out, he is edging his way into a permanent role in Jurgen Klopp’s side. As soon as Jota formed that front four with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool looked transformed v Arsenal.
With eight games remaining, that must be the way forward for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp must be bold and utilise the newfound front four.
Fabinho: Liverpool’s Safety Net
Without Fabinho in the midfield this season, Liverpool have collapsed. Since the former Monaco man came back into the six role, the Reds have had an all too familiar ruthlessness to them. Suddenly, every second ball is picked up, the ball is retained; it is recycled with goalscoring intentions.
And, yes, a lot of the credit deserves to go to Fabinho. After all, he is the man making the difference, but Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips have formed a trusted partnership which has allowed for the positional switch.
Phillips is more of an old-fashioned, no-nonsense central defender. Kabak is a modern-day centre-back, bringing the ball from the back and playing those progressive passes.
The key difference, however, is that Fabinho is there acting as the safety net. Before, the inexperience at the back could be exposed. Now, it’s almost as if Fabinho is there acting like a father figure protecting his kids behind him.
Arsenal v Liverpool: Gunners Brought Back Down to Earth
After defeating Tottenham Hotspur and coming back from three goals down to draw with West Ham United, Arsenal would have been feeling confident ahead of the tie. They were set to face a bruised and vulnerable Liverpool side, or so they thought and looked a side capable of testing Klopp’s side.
Instead, they were brought back down to earth in brutal fashion by Liverpool. They didn’t come up against the bruised Liverpool side. Instead, they faced a side with a vengeance in mind and the fire in their belly, ready to battle for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Embed from Getty Images