Two outstanding individual goals added some shine to a crazy game at the Emirates Stadium, where any notion of defending was left on the training pitch. James Nalton marked the players out of ten.
Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool
Premier League, Emirates Stadium
Sunday, 14 August 2016
Goals: Walcott 30′, Oxlade Chamberlain 64′, Chambers 76′; Coutinho 45+1′, 56′, Lallana 49′, Mane 63′
Simon Mignolet – 6
Made an impressive stop from Theo Walcott’s penalty, but could have done better when the Arsenal man put the ball past him for the opening goal.
Instead of diving he appeared to watch it go past him, but he may have had his view obstructed by Moreno and Klavan who were stretching to block the shot.
Before this he’d made a routine save from Alexis Sanchez in the opening ten minutes, and came out to punch a corner with great confidence shortly after.
Kept his kicking game to basic punts upfield unless there was an easy pass on.
Was let down by his defence for much of the game, but might also look back and think he could have done better himself.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6
Overhit a pass to Mane in the early stages which should have been cushioned in front of the winger, thus giving him the space to shoot. Was in a similar situation later on but this time he under-hit the pass.
Gets forward well and takes up some great positions. Even managed to get a shot off at one point. He was rewarded for his adventures forward with an assist, when Coutinho scored from his cross in the second half.
Was part of the collective defensive disaster though, giving away the free kick for the third goal, with the second also coming down his side.
Dejan Lovren – 5
His first pass of the game went straight to the opposition, and a slide through the back of Alexis Sanchez which saw him pick up a yellow card summed up Liverpool’s careless defending.
Ragnar Klavan – 7
Liverpool’s best defender on a poor day for the back line.
Was left exposed on a few occasions and his attempt to stop Walcott’s shot was in vain, but he showed good pace and strength to keep Sanchez at bay in the second half.
There is plenty to work on defensively following this match, but the Estonian looks like the player with the least to do on the training ground before the next game.
Alberto Moreno – 4
Gave away a penalty with a rash tackle. He got a slight nick on the ball, but he had no control of the challenge whatsoever.
Can’t be blamed for the first Arsenal goal though, as his side were on the counter-attack and he has every right to move up on the break. Lallana losing the ball left him looking the fool.
Earlier in the game his wayward defensive header had presented Aaron Ramsey with a chance, but he used his speed to get across an divert the ball out for a corner.
Criticised throughout by commentators on TV and social media alike, some of it deserved, some of it not.
Jordan Henderson – 6
Took up a position on front of the back four and showed again that he isn’t a defensive midfielder.
He contributed well enough with the ball, however, spraying passes out to Clyne on the right, and putting in an excellent cross to Firmino from which the Brazilian might have done better.
Looks more comfortable when moved further ahead alongside Wijnaldum, where he can use his pressing ability to greater effect.
Was nowhere to be seen in the first half as the ball often passed him by when his own side had it, and when Arsenal did.
Made amends for this in the second by providing the assist for Lallana’s goal with a neatly dinked cross to the far post.
Was notorious for poor away performances during his time at Newcastle, and while this wasn’t too bad he’ll be hoping to improve in the future.
Adam Lallana – 7
Lost the ball in as the team were looking to build a counter attack. This left the defence exposed and allowed Walcott to atone for his earlier penalty miss.
Like Wijnaldum, he immediately made up for this in the second half by slotting the ball underneath Petr Cech for Liverpool’s second goal.
Sadio Mane – 9
Pacy and direct, carrying on from where he left off against Barcelona.
The only problem was that the team couldn’t get the ball to him often enough in the first half.
In the second his darting runs on and off the ball were a constant threat, and he lit up the game with an excellent solo effort finished with aplomb with his left foot after a mazy dribble down the right.
An encouraging display, to say the least.
Philippe Coutinho – 9 – Man of the Match
Hit a perfect free kick which he’d won after drawing a foul from Arsenal debutant Rob Holding in first half injury time.
Gave Cech no chance in the Arsenal goal as his right-footed laser of a shot found the top corner.
Was also involved in the second goal, dropping deep to link up the play and knitting the attack together.
The side looked better when he was involved in the middle of the park, and he used this more involved role to get on the end of Clyne’s cross to score his second.
Was given the man of the match award by the TV company covering the game, and gets the accolade here too.
Roberto Firmino – 6
Looked slightly off the pace and a yard behind the play, which is strange as he’s had a full pre-season.
But like many of the Liverpool team he settled into the game in the second half, dropping deep to receive the ball and laying it off to those making runs around him.
He also seemed more comfortable once Divock Origi arrived to support him in the second half.
Emre Can (for Coutinho 69‘) – 6
Came on as the holding midfielder and allowed Henderson to move further forward.
Still isn’t the specialist Liverpool need in this area, but is the player who looks the most comfortable in this position, even though he’s also better and more useful slightly further forward.
Divock Origi (for Lallana 75‘) – 6
Offered a focal point up front which allowed Firmino to drop deep in an attempt to retain possession.
This ploy only came into effect in the last ten minutes once the side began to see the game out, and he was more than useful.
Kevin Stewart (for Wijnaldum 88‘) – N/A
Came on as a second holding midfielder alongside Can, and also wasted a bit of time.
Arsenal fans who somehow remember his time as a youth player at Spurs, booed him when he came on.
Jurgen Klopp – 7
The starting XI and the initial setup failed to get any control of the game, and they were only bailed out before half time by a piece of individual brilliance from Coutinho.
The manager went with the 4-1-4-1 / 4-3-3 which we’ve seen in pre-season, but the three players picked in the centre of midfield failed to take control of the game.
Then came the second half.
The half time team talk worked perfectly, and Liverpool’s Brazilians came to the fore.
Firmino and Coutinho drifted around and became more involved in the game as Mane occupied the opposition defence with his constant running.
The changes were obvious, and though it might be said that they should have started the game like this, the half time team talk would have been as much about changing the mentality of the players, as it was about changing the way they were playing.
However, the amount of goals conceded shows there is plenty of work to be done on the defensive side of things.
A defensive midfielder and a solid, versatile full-back are still needed while the transfer window remains open.