Monday night football hosted this week’s clash of titans in match-week three of the 2015/16 Premier League season. The stage was set for a classic between positional and traditional rivals Arsenal and Liverpool at The Emirates. Despite there being no goals, the game certainly will not be forgotten any time soon and it may well go down as one of if not the best 0-0 matches in the history of the Premier League. After both sides demonstrated real potential at various stages during the 90 minutes, where has it left Arsenal and Liverpool in their quest to complete Premier League ambitions?
Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey appeared to open the scoring early on, only to be wrongly adjudged as offside. This controversial incident occurred minutes after Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho had struck Petr Cech’s bar, leaving the 33 year old able to only stand and admire the rasping shot. Liverpool hit the woodwork again thanks to the little Brazilian magician, who turned Hector Bellerin inside out before drawing a phenomenal save out of Arsenal’s new number one. Putting his disappointments from the opening weekend defeat against West Ham United aside, the Czech colossus was having ‘one of those nights’ and Arsenal fans will have been delighted to benefit from the true Petr Cech. Olivier Giroud spurned a great chance for the Gunners as the minutes ticked down after turning Dejan Lovren in the Liverpool penalty area, but on the overall balance of play, you may well consider a draw to be a fair result.
The Gunners and The Reds both have reasons to be excited, but now the exciting and controversy-packed match is over a day old, what implications can this early result have on the remainder of the coming season?
Despite missing their two first choice centre-backs, Arsenal’s Chambers and Gabriel looked capable players once they settled into the game. It is becoming clear that Arsene Wenger has built a squad which is better than what he has had for a long while. However his persistence in playing players even slightly out of position – Aaron Ramsey was deployed in a wide role for the majority of the game – can have an adverse effect on both his team’s balance and the attacking prowess they are so famous for.
Whilst Arsenal’s faults are fairly well documented, Liverpool’s issues are not quite as clear cut. The Reds are looking in much better shape than last season, defensively much sounder and with more of an outlet going forward. However at this point of the season, it is hard to define the style of football Brendan Rodgers wants to be playing with his new-look side. Liverpool are said to have spent the majority of the summer working on their defensive unit, having conceded so many goals across the rest of Rodgers’ tenure at Anfield. During the Arsenal game though, the Reds spent some prolonged periods entrenched near their penalty area and almost looked in a Mourinho-esque set up with a “don’t lose the game” mentality. Rarely did the defence push out and often Benteke was left isolated up top.
Lucas Leiva seemed to say his goodbye to the travelling Kop with an extended applause and a solemn wave as he was substituted for young scouser Jordan Rossiter, so where does that leave Liverpool in the defensive midfield area? Reports suggest that they have finished business for the window in terms of incomings unless a player who has a bearing on the first team – such as Lucas – leaves. They certainly seem to be numerically strong enough but; similarly to Arsenal, a dominant holding midfielder would not go amiss if one presents itself. Until Daniel Sturridge has returned from his latest injury lay-off and we see the plan to combine him with Benteke, it will be hard to define the style of play which the Reds will promote this season and furthermore, their capability to beat those around them.
Much like a pre-season game, Arsenal vs Liverpool left much to be answered for both fans and certainly managers alike. About the only thing that became clear from the game was that there are still a lot of important factors in both sides up in the air, such as will Arsenal sign another striker? What kind of style will Liverpool play this season? Are either side as good as their top four; or more ambitiously, title rivals? With everything still to play for and plenty to be decided for both teams, we would love to hear your opinion on the outlook of the coming season for these two Champions League chasers. Drop a comment below, or tweet us @tbrfootball to share your view!
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