How wrong can you be?
When I looked at Arsenal’s team selection versus Liverpool, I couldn’t see them getting any kind of result against the title-challengers. Before kick off, I wrote: ‘Arsenal are going to get stuffed tonight with such a lightweight midfield: Mkhitaryan (Ozil mark 2), Ozil (mark no one); and a left back, who has hardly played this season and has looked unfit when he has! Expect a cricket score! Plus Marriner hates Arsenal! I wish Paul Mariner was reffing!
Then after 15 minutes, I added: ‘Xhaka’s playing better than expected, back in midfield, as he was a decent left back! Kolacinac is getting a right run around after a promising start. And I keep forgetting Ozil’s playing!
Liverpool definitely look more likely to score! Leno has been lucky so far!’
My Liverpool-supporting friend wrote back: ‘I think you’ve been the better team, but we should have put at least one of our chances away. I can see you winning this!’
I agreed to some extent, writing: ‘Yep, we’ve had more possession, but Liverpool look more dangerous. Arsenal can’t keep pressuring Liverpool like this…they’ll get knackered and concede.’
Obviously, Arsenal didn’t tire and outran Liverpool throughout. This is testimony to Unai Emery’s fitness regime, as last season the Gunners were regularly outrun by opponents.
Aside from Xhaka, who seems like a new player, apart from the odd pass that still goes into touch, honourable mentions must got to Holding, who was particularly impressive at the back, and Torreira, who won the plaudits in midfield.
At the end, I felt compelled to write: ‘Fair result, I guess. Laca’s goal was quality, and had to beat your keeper. Our keeper looked decidedly shaky in comparison.’
My friend wrote back: ‘That’s the most outplayed we have been all season, I would say your lot also outworked us.’
To this, I replied: ‘Work rate was impressive, but cutting edge, aside from Laca’s one effort, wasn’t.’
Looking back at the game, I don’t remember Liverpool’s keeper making anything but routine saves. That’s why I think Arsenal were lucky to get a point. Possession does not always win matches.
Meanwhile, Emery’s substitutions were a little bit baffling. When Aubameyang was withdrawn, I didn’t see how Arsenal would score, but score they did. Substitute Iwobi’s industry had a lot to do with it.
Although Iwobi made an impression as a substitute, I don’t think we can say the same of Ramsey. The sooner the Welshman is bombed out of the club the better, for both the player and the team. Rambo is not the player he was and this talk about him running down his contract is affecting him; there’s no doubt about that.
I hope for Arsenal’s sake that they can offload Ramsey overseas to a club like Bayern Munich, who are reportedly interested. That would be the best case scenario all round.