Liverpool and Arsenal battled for 90 minutes only for the game to end 0-0 despite some glorious chances for both sides. The Reds now sit third in the Premier League after picking up a point.
For the first time in recent history Liverpool’s team news was greeted with genuine optimism by fans on Twitter. Both Emre Can and Roberto Firmino were handed their first starts of the season following injuries to Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana. Many supporters were bemoaning the fact that Liverpool’s new Brazilian had not been started yet and alluded to the fact that this was because he wasn’t Rodgers signing in the first place. The biggest cause for optimism was the news that both Per Mertersacker and Laurent Koscielny were absent.
Also returning to the side after allegations that he would leave in this transfer window having been left out of the squad for two weeks was Lucas Leiva. He wasn’t hugely impressive but at the same time his presence in the team and the presence of a natural holding midfielder didn’t go unnoticed – especially against a very organized, possession based Arsenal side.
Liverpool started tremendously and Brendan Rodgers seems to have restored the Red’s aggressive opening style which so characterized the nature of the 2013/2014 season. Within three minutes Philippe Coutinho had a great shot cannon off the crossbar after a good run in behind from Christian Benteke had been expertly found by stand-in skipper James Milner.
Although Arsenal had a goal incorrectly disallowed for offside and will feel hard done by, they had a poor first half. Liverpool were on top despite inferior possession stats and were constantly looking to impose themselves on the hosts with their pressing and bursting counter attack. Liverpool fans will be immensely happy with last night’s performance. A point and a clean sheet at the Emirates Stadium in by no means reason for disappointment.
Last season, Liverpool were abysmal and by Christmas there was crisis on Merseyside. The biggest issue was that very little in the way of chances was being created. To make matters worse, when chances were presented their was no credible forward to convert them. Seemingly both problems have been solved. Although, Christian Benteke did have a shot saved by Petr Cech which really should have been scored.
Aside from scoring a worldie in the season opener at Stoke City to win the game, Philippe Coutinho has been in poor form. To make matters worse Mesut Ozil’s early season from has been sumptuous prompting the most cringe-worthy of Twitter debates. Last night, however Coutinho was in the mood and his intent was shown as early as the third minute when he smashed the crossbar. At one point before half time after receiving the ball on the left wing he turned Hector Bellerin into a knot before, yet again, smashing the ball into Cech’s post.
In a 0-0 draw it is commonplace that poor football is the reason for the lack of goals but last night the two goalkeepers on the pitch outdid themselves. Simon Mignolet picked up his third clean sheet of the game while Petr Cech made up for his shaky start to life at the North London club.
I have to admit that that I am somewhat surprised at Alexis Sanchez’ lack of influence in the game. I suppose he could still be regaining his fitness after a successful Copa America tournament in his native Chile. Although, it must be said that 18-year old Joe Gomez acquitted himself superbly handling the Barcelona forward with experience beyond his years. As a result of his brilliant performances for Liverpool Gomez (and Jordon Ibe) has been called up to the U21 England squad.
Alberto Moreno was afforded another cameo in the dying embers of the game. This time it was less joyous for the fleet-footed Spaniard as he chose to cut inside instead of releasing the ball at the end of a trademark 50-yard sprint.
Liverpool will now look to Saturday’s home game where they host West ham United at Anfield. Roberto Firmino will be hopeful of maintaining his starting berth after he brought liveliness and creativity to the Liverpool team. The Reds now sit third on the log behind second place Leicester City and top dogs Manchester City.