He might have been rendered 'unfashionable' even as they bought him, but Marouane Fellaini showed Manchester United why they bought him against West Brom, says Adam Bate...
In recent times Arsenal have appeared cowed against the better teams, so it was perhaps encouraging that they imposed their own game on Everton, says Nick Miller...
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Some Brendan Lurrve
Today was an exceptional result for Liverpool and for Brendan Rogers. Over Christmas at both Man City and Chelsea I felt we were the better team and in both cases the tactics of the other team/defensive lapses meant we left both grounds with squat.
The reason today was important for Brendan was because he did the same thing again tactically; namely asked the team to play their game and not worry about the other team's style of play. It showed early on because within 30 seconds of going 1-0 up Liverpool were a last ditch Skrtel tackle away from leaving Giroud with a 1 on 1 with the keeper.
I like Brendan's style, I think he's done a fantastic job in a short space of time and is working wonders out of the talent out youth academy has developed. That said I think the Mourinho's and Ferguson's of the world have shown more pragmatism when travelling away. The footballing purist, Wenger, on the other hand was probably the perfect team to play this team in the style we did. So my real question now is what will Brendan do when Chelsea/Man City come to visit? Chelsea have exactly the right squad for a counter attacking approach to be successful. So do we hope to out score them or adjust to pay respect to their ability to break fast.
The decision Rogers makes in these games will perhaps reveal how committed he is to his "philosophy" or whether he ultimately only cares about winning.
You can talk gobsh*te, philosophical, crap things whatever you want. As long as you keep masterminding Liverpool to that kind of performance.
Quite simply the best first 20 minutes football that I have ever seen. Thank you, Rodgers.
Vincentius (Ar5ena1), Newcastle upon Tyne
...Brendan Rodgers. I love you.
If there was ever a lesson in what attacking football meant, I think I just witnessed it yesterday. Relentless attacking, compounded with heart and determination all over the pitch. To not only win, but destroy your opponent mercilessly, that is what Liverpool did and as much as It disappoints me to say that, they should rightly deserve such a victory. Even Cissokho played well and that itself says alot.
Now, onto my team. At what point does Arsene finally consider dropping Ozil and playing Gnabry or perhaps someone with more hunger to drive forward? Ozil has failed to step up in pretty much every big game we've had and just looks like a shadow of his Madrid self. All those stats of Mertesacker and Koscielny as a CB pairing, Liverpool just made a mockery of it. Fault must also lie with the rest of the team no doubt. Even being 5-0 down, they still kept trying to walk the ball into the net. No one even had the guts to trouble Mignolet and just kept looking for the perfect pass. Giroud was as good as a lamppost and I frankly can't expect much of him in big games. I really cannot expect much of him because better teams can easily handle him. And no doubt Bayern, Chelsea or even City will.
I still don't get why it is that Wenger chooses to set the team up to play positional rather than man-to-man defense on set pieces, and especially corners. The 2nd goal by the-man-with-no-vowels-in-his-name, was the same error Koscielny committed against Van Persie and this kind of defending is costing us. Why do we have to wait for the opponent to first make contact and only then react to their header? Is Bould going to set us up the same way against Chelsea when Terry or Ivanovic or even Cahill score like this, unguarded?
Finally, at what point does Arsene realize enough is enough and actually visits the touchline? It was clear that the team was falling apart. Rather than converse with Bould or whine at the ref, he could have, as what most sensible managers would do, get his team organized. He just sat there, taking it all in, clueless as to what needed to be done. This kind of thing is embarrassing to watch. The team kept suffering from a high defensive line (yet continued to play the same way), exposed midfield and lack of attacking ability, but he didn't change anything. He just sat there. It's pathetic.
And to imagine that this team netted 5 without Suarez on the sheet. That's a team performance. And this is why Wenger has probably pissed his title chances away this season as well. Only way we win going forward if the team actually learns from it and stop being a complacent lot, starting with Arsene. We haven't been ruthless against any side, let alone a top side, all season. So it's actually a miracle we were at the top for most of the season.
...1. Our slow starts have come back to haunt us today. I think I saw that at HT of the Palace game last weekend, we'd been ahead in one of our last ten before the break. It's not good enough. At home against the 'lesser' teams like Palace or Fulham, our laboured approach is rectified by goals and points won after half time. Today, we must've thought it again, but boy were we wrong.
2. Mesut Ozil. I'm saying it: he's one of our most laboured players, and frankly I don't think he wants to play for Arsenal. He's not a 'bad' footballer or 'crap' or not worth his fee (all things I've seen today), but he's not adapting to the strength of Premier League opposition and he's not surrounded by enough world class players. For Liverpool's third goal, he's 'shoved' to the ground. In La Liga, he wins a free kick. Here? Man up and win the ball back lad, it's a shoulder barge. As for his teammates? He's gone from playing with Ronaldo, Alonso and Di Maria to playing with Arteta, Giroud and Monreal. It makes a difference.
3. I don't even know what to say about the defending. I actually think Skrtel was marginally offside for the first goal, but who can say it would've mattered if it hadn't counted - Liverpool were on a mission! The back four were ripped apart for three goals, while the second one was down to more poor marking. That said, it was a cracking header from Skrtel to loop over Ox and past Szczesny.
4. As an Arsenal fan, I'm glad Kolo didn't shin in the fastest rebound of all time. But as a football fan (and with the game already over at this point really, even at only 2-0) Suarez's thunderbastard would've been THE one. What a strike that was. The post is still shaking.
5. Wilshere made more tackles than anyone on the pitch, and he was the only Arsenal player who looked like he cared, or wanted to get us back into it, despite the scoreline. He constantly gets fouled and it's easy to see why he gets wound up. But he should be the captain of this team, without a doubt.
6. Anyway, bottom line is Liverpool were f**king brilliant. I remember at HT of the Southampton game they were beating Everton 3 or 4-0 and we were 1-0 down, all of us at the game were already fearing this fixture. They're scary going forward. No complaints with their approach and ability in this game.
7. That said (lol), BT Sport banging the Liverpool title drum? They're still 5 points behind us (for how long?!), and I bet none of their punditry team reckon we can win it after that!
8. Wednesday? We'll either respond excellently, or Robin Van Persie will score a hat trick and I'll be drowning in a flood of tears. Oh football, you b*stard......
Joe, AFC, East Sussex
...I can't take it. I'm not watching any more.
Going out for a 'few' beers :(
...Except for a brief 68 minute spell at the start and another, even more brief, 20 minute spell toward the end of the game, Arsenal were clearly the better team.
David (I got up at 4:45 for that mess?) Oliver, USA
Ozil Worm Turning?He's scored a couple of goals and made some nice assists, but when is it O.K. to say Mesut Ozil has been pretty bang average?
Luca James Sparks, AFC
...I wrote an unpublished mail yesterday (presumably it got lost in the post) about how it was strange that Mourinho lauds Ozil as the greatest number 10 in Europe, but couldn't find a place in his Chelsea side for Mata, a player with similar deficiencies.
Well, after his masterclass in 'not giving a flying f*ck' today at Anfield, I'm even more dumbfounded than ever. I'm fed up with people talking about the so-called "Ozil-effect". He has been poor in the majority of games this season, offering nothing in defence, and often very little in attack.
Today his perfromance was a disgrace to the shirt, and although admittedly he wasn't alone in this regard, I think for £42million, we have every right to expect more from him. Moreover, his behaviour at Manchester City was lamentable, and I believe that the initial bouce effect of signing a supposed top-class player has been replaced with a realisation that however talented a player may be, if he doesn't put any effort in, his presence is to the detriment of the team.
I never allowed myself to believe we would win the league, and it's days like today that remind me why.
Clock End John (it's the hope that kills you)
Wenger's Obduracy Not A Virtue
I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Arsene Wenger has accomplished over the years at Arsenal, especially how he has kept his teams competing for trophies and perennially qualifying for Europe in this era of financial doping; but having said that today's game against Liverpool has brought to the fore recent conversations I've had with my brother, a lifelong Wenger supporter, about the man's philosophy. Is there really a bigger dinosaur in world football than Arsene Wenger?
For all the stick that people like Harry Redknapp and Tim Sherwood take for "keeping it simple" and not being tactically proficient is there any other top football manager that gets more found out in the big games than Wenger?
He hides under this "philosophy" of short passes and easy on the eye football by small technical players and masks his obstinacy (or inability?) towards adapting his game to suit his opponents playing style. I can't think of any other top manager who would have come up against a very good Tottenham side last season, with one of the best players in Europe in Gareth Bale, in a game he absolutely had to win, and respond when asked what his plans were to restrain Bale by saying "we have no plans for Bale, we'll just concentrate on playing our game". Whoever says crap like that? Of course Tottenham went on to win the aforementioned game.
One of the things that make the best managers, Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho etc, is their affability or pliancy. Guardiola, for instance, maintained his tiki-taka philosophy but constantly reengineered his team until it got to its peak; at Bayern he isn't stuck on the same philosophy but has demonstrated his ability to remain lithe and adapt his tactics and technique. Very much the same can be said about Sir Alex and his dexterity at keeping abreast of his opponents' methods and game-plan. Everyone reads Arsene Wenger's team like an open book and knows exactly what to expect from them. When will he learn that his obduracy is not a virtue?
Peeyugo (only consolation I'll take is a mauling of United at the Emirates, nothing less) AFC
Yeah, Of Them All Gerrard's The Decent Bloke
I'm a City fan. I have no real reason to dislike Liverpool. We share what you might call a healthy rivalry with United, they're not a major threat this year and sitting here watching them shellack Arsenal I should be overjoyed at seeing them take apart a genuine title contender. But they're just so damn unlikeable.
Sure they're playing great football and Aly Cissokho provides consistent entertainment but so many of their players just seem like absolute w**kers. Sturridge does his utterly ridiculous dance thing and is generally a c*ck, Henderson looks like a deer that has somehow mistaken itself for a bull and huffs around being generally a c*ck, Sterling just makes me want to slap the sh*t out of him and Luis Suarez is...well.
Gerrard seems like a decent bloke I guess and all of these may be just codswallop but there's just something about the Liverpool players. They just make me angry.
Richard Hammond (yes that is my real name, I go by Rick), MCFC
What Might Have Been
If only Kallstrom had been fit...
Greg Benham, AFC
I have to say, Arsenal at 5/2 was wider of the mark than Jack Wilshere's passing. But otherwise his tipping (particularly Nolan, Palace and Hazard) allowed me to stick more than £200's worth of fingers up at the Bookies earlier, so have one on me fella.
Unfortunately this did involve backing against my team, but f*** it. Paul Lambert's making plenty of money out of Villa being s*** so I don't see why I shouldn't get involved as well.