Mentality shown and Trent in midfield - 5 talking points from Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal | soccer4u
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Mentality shown and Trent in midfield – 5 talking points from Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal



Liverpool contributed to an entertaining game, but one in which they will be disappointed to get away with just a point.
Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Mix with the best

Liverpool were 29 points behind Arsenal going into this match, sitting in 8th place, 13 points adrift of the Champions League.
Before the defeat to Man City, the Reds had the best head-to-head record in the top six, but as the end of the season approached, they struggled.

During the matches against Real Madrid in the Champions League, there was never a feeling that they could beat Carlo Ancelotti’s team, and despite earlier comeback forces, there has never been any sign of such a breakthrough in the contest back.

They also struggled in their recent encounter with Man City, finishing on the wrong end of a 4-1 draw. After a mediocre opening half hour, this game was a bit more of a return to form for Liverpool, who should have won the game.

There was a missed penalty and a poor finish which for a while looked like they wouldn’t even get a point, but Trent Alexander-Arnold and substitute Roberto Firmino combined for a deserved late equaliser.

The chances created and the mentality shown after the defeat was more that of old Liverpool, who can mix with the best.

Trent in midfield

Alexander-Arnold has occasionally slipped into midfield during matches, but it has never been more pronounced.

Even defensively, he sometimes stayed in this central zone, only occasionally dropping into the back four. One of the effects was that Ibrahima Konaté knew which area to cover, rather than thinking of a chance that Trent could recover as he would if playing as a more orthodox right-back.

At times Trent’s presence in midfield did little more than give Arsenal another player they could easily get around, but as the game progressed that role became increasingly useful.

His passing ability through the middle gave the team a slightly different use of this offensive weapon and was an extra player available to catch second balls. Jordan Henderson improved, as did Trent, and it looked like it could benefit both players going forward.

Everything starts

The temperature may have dropped at Anfield thanks to a swirling cold wind, but the temperature on the pitch has risen following numerous clashes. A clash between Alexander-Arnold and Granit Xhaka really lit up the touch paper and lifted the mood at Anfield. It seemed to shake Arsenal players.

Gabriel Jesus regularly found himself on the ground when Ibrahima Konaté made his presence felt.

There was a lot of art that punctuated the game, but overall that extra spice seemed to work in Liverpool’s favour.

Perhaps the most bizarre moment was Andy Robertson who was cautioned at half-time for protesting the referee’s nudge by the linesman!

Thiago is back

Thiago has returned to Liverpool after being out since early February. It goes without saying that the team lacks its quality in midfield and its offense in the attacking area.

He was a very handy substitute in a game that was starting to run out of control on both sides.
He hadn’t been on the court long when he played a clean pass into Gakpo’s cannon with the outside of his boot.

The touchdown was there immediately and the extra safety option on the ball in midfield came in handy as Liverpool fought their way into the game and were the better side in the second half.

Top 4 opportunities? This is the last of Liverpool’s difficult (on paper) games, which featured Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea (okay, maybe not that difficult) in the last three games.

The only other member of the top six who have to play before the end of the season is Tottenham, and that could be important as both are in contention for several European places.

The rest are games they would normally expect to win, but we have seen throughout the season that there are no easier games for Liverpool.

If they can carry the energy and mentality of this Arsenal game’s final hour into the rest of the season, there’s a chance they can pick up enough points to worry, if not capture, the top four.
Having Thiago back, and Luis Diaz from next week, could be decisive. But there have been so many false dawns for Jurgen Klopp and his players this season that it would have to be said that the top four now seems unlikely.


Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal: Player Ratings

Liverpool decided they’d have themselves a game of three-thirds against Arsenal: 30 minutes each of atrocious, middling and finally aggressive and energetic. The end result: a thrilling draw.

Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal

Premier League (29), Anfield
April 9, 2023

Goals: Salah 42′, Firmino 87′; Martinelli 8′, Jesus 28′

Alisson Becker – 5 (out of 10)

Didn’t cover himself in glory with either goal and dropped a cross too. Looked very standard, but with what he’s having to put up with in front of him, can you blame him for a few bad games?

Some of his distribution wasn’t great, either.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6

Given an altered tactical role where he moved into midfield in possession, centrally and even advanced at times, but while a few passes were decent, the knock-on effect on the team organisation wasn’t good at all.

Has to be acknowledged it would not have been easy for Trent to take on board all the positions he needed to take up in such a short space of time.

Defensively was beaten by routine runs in behind a few times, nothing new, but also inadvertently sparked the late-half revival when wound the crowd up after his altercation with Xhaka.

Better second half but Liverpool needed more again from him – and he provided it when he did finally get high and wide, nutmegging Zinchenko superbly and crossing for Firmino’s header.

Ibrahima Konate- 8

Errors elsewhere but, perhaps, the opening goal was his man and his step out toward the ball was the wrong move. Then he didn’t stop Martinelli’s cross for the second – not that that was the biggest problem.

Big challenge on Xhaka after the break and also got to grips with Martinelli in the channel after a while.

Really good second half – but couldn’t score the winner from two yards out. How much of a difference that might have made.

Virgil van Dijk – 4

Forget pretensions of being the best, Virgil van Dijk looks a thoroughly ordinary defender now. The odd header or clearance or whatever, but nothing special whatsoever.

He had two bites of the cherry to stop the build-up to 1-0 and failed both times, then completely ignored the only attacker in the box from a routine cross for 2-0. A dismal attempted tackle saw him booked on the half-hour mark – this is not the Dutch defender we knew. Like this, he’s finished.

Certainly a better second half when we didn’t have to defend as much but couldn’t feasibly get much worse.

Andy Robertson – 5

Chief culpable officer in the first quarter of the match: lost Saka in the lead-up to Martinelli’s goal, then couldn’t tackle the scorer in time either. Missed a great chance to equalise after sprinting through on goal.

Being elbowed in the face by the assistant is a new one mind, as is being booked for the pleasure of it.

Magnificent recovery slide to thwart Arsenal at the back post and lots of overlaps second half.

Fabinho – 6

Swarmed and swamped so often in the first half. Made a few decent through-balls but the problem was Arsenal doing it the other way past him.

Booked for whacking Saka and then eventually subbed off despite the Reds looking susceptible to counters even with him.

Jordan Henderson – 5

A truly rotten first half-hour. Took him 24 minutes to make his first challenge in the middle of the park and gave the ball away several times. Looked totally lost with the Reds in possession in what he was supposed to be doing, or where he should run.

However, like a few of the others, started to make a few more progressive runs, effectively assisted the goal with a shot of his own he didn’t quite catch properly and ended the half in energetic fashion with a few more tackles.

Kept making positive runs forward and into the channel second half, but never really fashioned anything with them.

Curtis Jones – 7

For 40 minutes he was only player in red with a bit of control about his game, the only player who didn’t look like an immature child.

Showed a bit of fight and energy in trying to win the ball high, and wasn’t cowed at being under pressure – and was crucially able to pick the right pass when in the final third. Set Jota free in the lead-up to Salah’s goal and created more openings thereafter.

Dind’t deserve to be subbed off first.

Mohamed Salah – 4

Weak and wasteful until he scored – then the flick was switched and suddenly he looked like he could take on four at once.

Spurned a good chance when through from a narrow angle, but followed in Hendo’s shot to deflect in an attempted clearance for 2-1. Then, the penalty: low and wide. A second straight missed spot-kick and we maybe need to consider a shift now. One other chance was saved.

A big late chance was fired over the bar from close range, albeit on the stretch, then another was tipped wide.

Overall, a poor display, missed a big chance, missed a penalty and seemed to lose his head after the latter, struggling to run the ball or beat a defender.

Cody Gakpo- 6

Constant runs and movement off the ball, even if there wasn’t always someone with him to play a pass to afterwards.

The endeavour and intent was certainly there, though a bit of execution and end product was needed first half especially. Just needs to be sharper all around, really.

Diogo Jota – 5

Did the man have his Achilles removed while he was out injured? Looks miles short of the acceleration, energy and aggression he had before his long absence. Those fast-twitch fibres clearly aren’t firing yet after his calf injury.

Even so, he made the overlap and cut-back for the Salah goal, then won a penalty too after the break, so he is still making a few bits happen.


Thiago Alcantara (on for Jones, 60′) – 7 – Welcome back. First touch of the ball showed how much we’ve missed him. Dominated the middle of the park for 30 minutes.

Darwin Nunez (on for Jota, 60′) – 5 – Tried to make madness happen but the delivery to him wasn’t great. Had one big chance and fluffed it, though then almost assisted a winner.

Roberto Firmino (on for Fabinho, 78′) – 7 – Didn’t have long but created one chance and then headed in another himself – he loves a goal against Arsenal.

Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Matip, Tsimikas, Milner, Elliott

Jurgen Klopp – 5

Whatever Klopp was trying to do by pushing Trent infield and Henderson higher upfield did not have the desired effect, but after everyone has been saying to do something different, it was certainly something different.

But why the boss thought the optimal time to make such a big tactical shift was in the few days between Chelsea and Arsenal, rather than in the World Cup break or when we had a week between games, is anyone’s guess.

Didn’t watch the penalty and thought it went in, which wasn’t a great look.

Subs were needed but taking Jones off was an absurdity unless he was shattered from starting twice in a few days after not at all since November. But, there were proactive subs at least.

The start of the game, the shape and the organisation – all these are on Klopp every time and his set-up. But therefore so too must we offer some credit for the second-half response and the introduction of the subs who each played a part.

Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not

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