DEFENSIVE ISSUES COST BOTH TEAMS
In a game with plenty of goals it is obvious that there was both great attacking play and defending that left a lot to be desired. Yeah, check both those boxes.
Jurgen Klopp will perhaps be the more disappointed as his side let two leads slip in the first half and coughed up a third in the second. Liverpool’s defensive injury woes have been well documented with Klopp having to move to bring in Steven Caulker on loan this week as Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel are out injured, plus Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho were rushed back for this clash. Still, the way Arsenal cut through Liverpool’s defense at times was worrying.
[ RECAP – Liverpool 3-3 Arsenal ]
For Arsenal’s first goal nobody tracked Aaron Ramsey‘s third-man run and he slotted home coolly, then an in-swinging corner caught out Simon Mignolet and Olivier Giroud flicked home to make it 2-2. Giroud then turned Sakho too easily and left Toure on his backside as he slotted home Arsenal’s third, with Klopp holding his head in his hands.
Arsenal — who spurned the chance to stretch their lead at the top and are now level with Leicester and only three points ahead of Man City — were also guilty of defensive mistakes, dwelling on the ball which saw Henderson and Milner snap it up and fed Firmino for his second goal. The Gunners also failed to react quickly to loose balls for Firmino’s first and Joe Allen‘s late equalizer, with Mikel Arteta losing Allen who volleyed home in stoppage time to send Anfield, and Klopp, wild.
LIVERPOOL’S SPIRIT SHINES THROUGH
Klopp’s wild celebrations when Allen’s equalizer went in — the German charged down the touchline and punched the air with delight as the snow started to get thicker on Merseyside — and the team getting together as one to thank the fans at the Kop at the final whistle was reminiscent of a side scoring a late goal to stave off relegation. That’s just the way things are at Anfield these days. Liverpool didn’t put in their best display by a long stretch but they did show plenty of passion and dug in to grind out a draw when it mattered.
It it still too early to say whether Klopp’s masterplan is slotting into place. He is in his first transfer window as Liverpool boss, is unlikely to get the players he wants until the summer and his philosophy and high-pressing style has been tough to implement with so many injuries. Whatever Liverpool is currently lacking in technical ability and tactical understanding they’re making up for it with pure passion and determination. When you have Klopp in charge, that’s inevitable.
FIRMINO, GIROUD PROVIDE CLASS
The poor defending and relentless passion aside, Roberto Firmino and Olivier Giroud both delivered moments of sheer class.
Firmino’s second goal was a beauty, watch it in the video above, as the Brazilian bent in a superb strike to put the Reds 2-1 up. He is beginning to consistently put in displays which excite Liverpool’s fans and despite his silly celebration for his first goal and getting booked for removing his shirt, Klopp will be delighted with his display up front as he preferred him to the bulking, yet sometimes predictable, Christian Benteke.
“You have to speak about Roberto Firmino and both his goals were brilliant and he played for the whole time really good,” Klopp said afterwards.
As for Giroud, he has his critics but you have to admire that he not only had the quality to stick both Sakho and Toure on their backsides before scoring Arsenal’s third goal but also got stuck in and took the elbows to the heads and knees to the back and got up each time. He led the line superbly and should’ve had a hat trick as, predictably, he did have a huge moment to forget as he somehow missed from three yards out as he slid in at the Kop end. That miss will go down as one of the worst of the season but the clever flick for his first and the spin and finish for his second prove his classy movement and finishing ability is to be admired.