Podolski (31), Cazorla (68)
Yesterday would have been Bill Shankly’s ninety ninth birthday. One wonders what the great man would have thought about Liverpool’s current situation? Perhaps rather than join in the criticism that will inevitably be flung in the direction of Brendon Rogers after this week, he would indentify with what he is going through?
When Shankly joined Liverpool he too felt he had to clear out the deadwood and he did, around two dozen players were shipped out in around twelve months. He also had issues with the Liverpool board over the provision of funds for players. In short he wanted to change things but it was an uphill struggle and it took him five years between joining the club and his team lifting their first title under him.
Whatever the era it’s always about how you perform on the pitch and the decisions you take to improve it are surely the same? However today the stakes are higher and the patience is shorter. Under Shankly Liverpool were initially a run of the mill old second division team, their star rose with Shankly. Brendon Rogers inherits a team arguably unable to meet expectations, and on the downward spiral from the lofty heights that Shankly and those after him propelled the club to. What job is hardest? By comparison Shankly might have had it easy?
However, no matter how I hard this doesn’t make our current situation any easier to digest. No doubt much time and naval gazing will be spent over our lack of finishing and Rogers and /or the owners contribution to the situation we find ourselves in. Add to this the ironies of Arsenal, also with new personnel, breaking their own season 2012-13 goal scoring duck, thanks to more defensive mistake on our part, Andy Carroll’s decent performance for West Ham and the hand wringing becomes so intense that friction burns are a real danger. The fact that we had seventeen shots of which eight were on target says that were making the chances. It also suggests that the overall build up play isn’t to bad however, went it comes to the goal? Perhaps all this extra passing is making our forwards dizzy?
Argh yes this passing, passing “ticky tacky” whatever you want to call it thing that our manager is so keen to see us adopt. Arsenal could no doubt write a book on the subject however and I hope the irony is not lost on Brendon Rogers that Arsenal, arguable the English doyens of his system, scored both their goals and had another great chance (for Giroud) from breakaways!
Liverpool made three changes Agger, retuning from suspension, replaced Coates, Sahin made his debut in midfield, Enrique replaced Kelly at full back. We began positively with Borini going close a few times firstly from distance and then an effort, from the edge of the penalty area. In between Suarez wasted a free kick after he was fouled by Mertesacker.
If our new forward was unable to make his mark it wasn’t long before Arsenal’s lost his Premiership cherry. Cazorla producing a nice return ball to Podolski who fired low past Reina into the far corner. Perhaps something will be made of the fact that we lost possession by trying to play our through however, this isn’t a situation unique to Rogers’ system plenty of sides are dispossessed. Gerrard (whose slack pass was picked up by Arsenal) and Rogers will feel miffed that he lost the ball so cheaply but equally as put out, even allowing for the pace of Arsenal’s move, that we didn’t manage to stop the attack. If past form is anything to go by Glen Johnson made the first of what will be many more mistakes from him that will lead to opposition goals. This time he failed to pick up on Podolski’s run early enough.
It wasn’t long before we were back at it. Sterling, after a scrappy bout of head tennis in the Arsenal area, turned round the back of two defenders and rapped an effort against the post. However, their goal seemed to galvanise Arsenal and we saw signs of the confidence going forward they have shown in the past at this ground. Giroud missed an easy chance following a long run by Diaby which everyone backed off. Aside from the goal it was one of the few incidents of note in a poor half.
In the second half Mertesacker continued to flirt with danger this time he felled Suarez. Sadly every time Suarez goes down in the area and appeals I have my doubts. Perhaps his overly eager protestations are beginning to work against us? Later Vermaelen genuinely fouled him, high on the knee, however, nothing was given “same old Luis crying wolf again”, it’s beginning to leave a bad taste.
We laboured to carve out chances but Arsenal, seemingly at will, moved forward. A nice move lead to Gibbs firing low and hard from a tight angle, Reina did well to fend it away. Soon after Jenkinson, with low shot was making Reina work again. Perhaps time make a change however, no Carroll, Kuyt or Bellamy waiting in the wings to replace Borini but enter Stuart Downing! For many Liverpool fans I suspect seeing the first tangible demonstration of the harsh reality of our predicament eclipsed Arsenal’s second goal. Podolski and Cazorha, exchanged a simple one two the Spaniards shot, from an tight angle, saw Reina beaten on his near post, his second mistake in as many games.
Even after he goal we had the lions share of the play as Arsenal were content to protect and although we on occasion were able to find a way through, notable via efforts from Downing, Shelvey (twice) and Suarez, the net did not ripple.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Jose Enrique, Agger, Skrtel Booked, Sahin (Shelvey – 67′ Booked ), Gerrard, Allen, Sterling, Suarez, Borini (Downing – 54′ ) Substitutes: Jones, Coates, Carragher, Kelly, Henderson, Downing, Shelvey
Arsenal: Mannone, Mertesacker Booked, Vermaelen (Koscielny – 90′ ), Jenkinson, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta Booked, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ramsey – 72′ ), Cazorla, Podolski (Santos – 82′ ), Giroud Substitutes: Martinez, Koscielny, Santos, Walcott, Ramsey, Coquelin, Gervinho