Brendan Rodgers over-thought this game…
I think Rodgers is a good manager. He has improved Liverpool dramatically. He seems to have an eye for a player and a creditable core philosophy.
However, he does have a tendency to over-think things. He seems to regard himself as an ingenious tactician, constantly seeking to reinvent the wheel.
Going in to a game against Arsenal with an outdated 3-5-2 formation was suicide. Liverpool’s wing backs – who, it should be pointed out, happen to be among the worst players in their squad – were isolated and overwhelmed.
At half-time, Rodgers switched to a conventional 4-4-2 to try and bring more stability to the side. However, Steven Gerrard has not been capable of playing in a central midfield pairing for some time. Even Rafa Benitez infamously fielded him wide on the right when selecting a midfield four, and that was years ago.
Rodgers’ tactical tinkering contributed to Liverpool’s downfall.
Mikel Arteta was outstanding…
Going in to the game, there was much wailing about the absence of Mathieu Flamini. However, Mikel Arteta covered for his absence with a superb man of the match display.
Arteta has been a little taken for granted this season. Flamini’s best performances came while the Spaniard was missing through inure. Given our excellent start, some fans wondered aloud whether Arteta had become obsolete.
Yesterday he demonstrated just why he’s such an essential member of the squad. His tackling was exemplary and his use of the ball typically intelligent. What’s more, he’s a leader. Throughout the game he could be seen marshalling Arsenal’s midfield, cajoling team-mates in to position and berating them if they neglected their defensive responsibilities.
Arsene Wenger deserves more credit for Arteta’s transformation…
Arsene used to be renowned for converting players to different positions. Indeed, in this match Arsenal came up against Kolo Toure, who had played on both wings for Arsenal before Wenger elected to use him as a centre-back.
Arteta arrived at Arsenal as a creative playmaker and has been refashioned in to a holding midfielder. The move has prolonged Arteta’s career and made him invaluable to the squad.
What’s happening to Aaron Ramsey feels almost supernatural…
In the week of Halloween, the Welshman is truly playing like a man possessed. His goal was the sort of thing you only attempt when your confidence is sky high. I’ve long thought Ramsey’s energy levels and shooting prowess were reminiscent of a young Steven Gerrard. The manner in which Ramsey dominated Gerrard in this match suggested a passing of the torch.
I was pleased for Thomas Vermaelen…
The club captain came on as a late substitute for Kieran Gibbs, and I was delighted he was involved in a great win. Vermaelen remains an important figure in the squad and the best reserve centre-half we’ve had in some time. It’s vital to keep him happy.
Confession: I only really care about the league…
Arsenal face a crucial Champions League tie with Dortmund this week, but I’d gladly swap victory in Germany for three points at Old Trafford next Sunday.
The Premier League campaign feels all-encompassing and all-consuming. The irritation felt at dropping out of the League cup was banished by beating Liverpool.
Arsenal are currently five points clear. There is a growing sense that Arsenal can mount their first serious and sustained title challenge since 2007/08. Nothing – not even European progression – would excite me more.