Three things we learned in Liverpool’s battering of Arsenal

Leave a comment

Following their massive 5-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday, Liverpool propelled themselves back into the Premier League title race after a totally dominant display over the PL leaders.

After seeing that devastating display of swashbuckling offensive prowess, we thought it was time to highlight three things we learned from Liverpool’s big win over Arsenal.

So, here they are…

Steven Gerrard has reinvented himself

Playing from the deep role Gerrard once again proved that he has plenty left in the tank to drive Liverpool on in the second half of the season. He started everything off from the holding position, as he broke down every move Arsenal that got going in the first 45 minutes and bullied Jack Wilshere in the engine room. Liverpool’s first two goals were also set up by delicious deliveries from the England national team captain, as his set-piece skills are getting even better. Gerrard was often operating as Liverpool’s last man, as he would drop deep to get the ball on the edge of his box and spray his trademark 45-yard plus passes out wide to turn Arsenal and put them on the back foot. One minor slip saw Gerrard give away the penalty kick, but his willingness to keep diving into tackles shows how committed he is, just like Gerrard’s always been. If ‘Stevie G’ can keep this form up, Liverpool have a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Arsenal’s backline still struggles to handle pace

As Daniel Sturridge slotted home Liverpool’s fourth goal in just the 19th minute of the game on Saturday, my mind cast back to the last time Arsenal got a pummeling in the PL. That came in the 6-3 defeat away at Man City in December, as the Gunners lack of pace was dreadfully exposed. Liverpool started on the front foot and with Suarez, Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho sprinting at the cumbersome duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the heart of Arsenal’s defense, the league leaders had no chance. Every time Liverpool surged forward, Mertesacker and Koscielny were spinning around in circles trying to find their marks and time and time again Liverpool were just too quick. Just like they did against City, Arsenal’s defense proved they can’t handle high-pressure as Arsenal were never allowed to settle. Just like they did against Everton in the Merseyside derby, Liverpool front four set the tone early on and the Gunners never recovered.

Liverpool aren’t out of this title race

Okay, even Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers had quelled chat of the Reds lifting the Premier League title this season, but why cant they do it? With Suarez and Sturridge bamboozling the best defenses in the PL on a weekly basis, Gerrard quarterbacking things from midfield and a plethora of exciting young talents nipping around midfield, I think the Reds have an outside chance. Following the win against Arsenal they were momentarily just five points off top spot, but with with Chelsea or Man City winning this weekend there are likely to be six points off the summit. That deficit isn’t insurmountable, especially as both Chelsea and City have to visit Anfield in April when the season comes to its climax. If Liverpool stay in touching distance between now and April, they have a great chance to be in the mix when May 11 rolls around. They’re remarkable home form, just one defeat all season, could see them shock everyone.

MORE: PL Roundup – Chelsea go top, Liverpool hammer Arsenal, big wins at the bottom
MORE: Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal – Rampant Reds tear leaders apart
MORE: Latest Premier League Standings

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
2 Comments

This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.