Liverpool commence their 2016-17 Premier League campaign with a nervy 4-3 win over Arsenal at the Emirates, Coutinho’s magic and defensive frailties being the talking points.
Klopp handed debuts to new signings Wijnaldum, Mane and Klavan. The German fielded quite an attack-minded side consisting of Coutinho, Lallana, Mane and Firmino; Henderson was playing as a defensive midfielder.
The shape was 4-3-3 with captain Henderson shoring up the back-line; Lallana and Wijnaldum just ahead of him doing both defensive duties as well as going forward when required. The front three consisted of Mane, Firmino and Coutinho.
Brazilian Firmino was playing more as a false 9, Coutinho and Mane were partnering him from both flanks.
Let’s take a look at Liverpool’s shape via tactics board and try to figure out few points related to the game :-
As we see in the image above, Lallana and Wijnaldum switched positions for playing in between the lines, Henderson shored up the midfield by being central. It was quite evident that the skipper was uncomfortable in that mopping up role, he got caught up on few occasions trying to press higher up in midfield and failing to do meant space behind him for opposition to play at. He improved considerably in the second half while Liverpool were dominating Arsenal with slick passing on half turns and creating goal-scoring chances.
Lallana and Wijnaldum struggled in the first half, they got in two minds whether to go high and press Arsenal’s midfielders or sit a bit deep protecting their back-line, Lallana was caught dwelling on the ball when Arsenal scored their first goal. For the second half, both players had an idea about how to get into business, they pressed the opposition higher up causing problems and creating opportunities for them to run at the last line of defence. Lallana became more influential by making late runs in the box while Wijnaldum was happy to be in and around the box to accommodate possession, for the second Liverpool goal though, Wijnaldum made an unmarked run in the box enabling him to find Lallana who made a late burst into the box.
Coutinho was brilliant in all respects, his goals were out of ordinary to say the least, his movements were of highest order and Arsenal never really looked comfortable getting in terms with the Brazilian. He tucked himself centrally in the second half which made him more adventurous with the ball and making those central runs in the box became easy. He linked up the play whenever needed with the midfield. Mane on the other flank also had a decent game wrapped up with a stunning solo goal. The Cameroon international was wide on may occasions but tucked himself centrally when Clyne went forward with the ball, that forced the Arsenal midfield tracker to be busy with the movements of Mane allowing Clyne to go one on one with the opposition fullback.
Moreno had a forgettable game at the back, he was again exploited by the opposition by catching him out of positions. Consider a situation of Arsenal’s first goal, Lallana got caught dwelling on the ball too much in the central area, Walcott was then marked by Klavan, as soon as Coquelin took the ball he passed into the gap beside of Klavan where Moreno was out of position very high up, Walcott exploited that gap and tucked in the goal without any challenge inside the box. The Spaniard’s positional play hasn’t improved much and it’s high time Klopp and Liverpool act in transfer market to buy a proper left back.
All in all, Klopp was a satisfied man for the way his team came back into the game either side of half-time. The character was shown by the Reds for sticking to their tasks, passed a bit better in second half and got the rewards they deserved.
The two main points summing up this game are :-
1.) Defensive problems continues to be a an achilles heel, Arsenal’s third goal was an example of poor marking from set-piece. Left back remains an area full of unanswered questions.
2.) Attacking and scoring doesn’t seem to be a problem now for Liverpool with likes of Mane, Coutinho in the ranks, Sturridge and Origi to add to that.
A deserved win on the opening day and even though some improvements are needed, Liverpool will be happy they got all three points from a tricky trip to the Emirates.
By Mizgan on 14th August, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans