Thiago and Roberto Firmino can combine to end Liverpool’s poor recent record against Arsenal. The Reds haven’t looked good against the Gunners this year.
We recently wrote about the potential at Liverpool with Thiago and Firmino in the side. In short, the two of them operate in the space either side of the opposition midfield, making Liverpool very difficult to play against.
You need a defensive midfielder to stop Firmino but you also need someone in front to stop £20m Thiago. You can’t play a diamond without leaving space for Liverpool’s full-backs to run riot.
Liverpool, then, look virtually unstoppable if they can get it all to click together. Fortunately, we might not have to wait long to see it.
Exploiting the space
Liverpool host Arsenal on Monday and we can feel fairly certain about the Gunners’ system. Mikel Arteta will almost certainly play 3-4-3, much as he has in Arsenal’s opening two games. Much like he did in the Community Shield. And much like he did against Liverpool in July.
And that’s the kind of system this new Liverpool system should thrive against. The 3-4-3 features a flat midfield two, meaning there’s space both in front and behind them. Space that Thiago and Firmino both want.
It’s difficult, on paper, to see how the Gunners could cope with that. Their midfield two will need to cope with Liverpool’s other two midfielders – likely to Naby Keita and Gini Wijnaldum. So who picks up Thiago? And who picks up Firmino?
If Arsenal don’t change their system, Liverpool could completely control the game. And it’s about time.
We expected Firmino to tear Arsenal apart in July. We expected the same in the Community Shield, too. But in both games, Liverpool as a whole struggled to create good chances and put Arsenal down.
The Gunners won both games, the first 2-1 and then the second on a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw. They didn’t actually create much in either, only hitting the target five times across the two games. Liverpool managed 12, in comparison.
And yet the Reds just didn’t look comfortable. Jurgen Klopp even changed his system in the second game, moving to a 4-2-3-1 with Firmino as a no.10.
It worked, too. Liverpool got their equaliser soon after and looked far better. But they might not need to change system on Monday.
Instead, they could play Thiago in a deep role to control the space there, while Firmino does the same between the Arsenal midfield and defence. We can’t see how Arsenal could cope with that – and it could finally put to bed this irritating recent record.