Liverpool’s entertaining draw against Arsenal gave the Liverpool fans a lot of positives and hope for the games to come. Despite being bogged down by numerous injuries, the reds still eked out one of their performances of the season. They dominated possession, kept driving at the Arsenal defence and didn’t let a marauding Arsenal side get the rhythm they have showcased over the recent weeks. We look at the positives that the side needs to build upon and the negatives that need to be erased for the Reds to take a positive result from the fixture against their fiercest rivals Manchester United.
The False 9 works way better than the absent 9.
Roberto Firmino operated as a False 9 in the game and to a great effect. He scored a brace and looked lively from the very start making important runs and identifying the runs made by his teammates who were running past him into crucial spaces. The performance was in complete contrast to the recent troubles associated with Christian Benteke.
In fact, if you look at Firmino’s performances over the season, he has shown a knack for losing his marker and getting into critical positions for his teammates to play him into. While that might not have worked wonders earlier, the game against Arsenal could have been the tipping point. Klopp will be keen to continue with an intelligent attacker at the top of his line and given the Brazilian’s repute, he could cause the United defense a few headaches.
The Midfield battle
The midfield trio of James Milner, Emre Can and Jordan Henderson were immense in the game against Arsenal. They worked tirelessly, were tidy with their passing and controlled the tempo of the game. They will be up against a stellar midfield of Schneiderlin, Shweisteiger and Herrera, should Van Gaal choose to start the three.
James Milner looked a completely different player from the recent times, playing crucial balls while Jordan Henderson showed no signs of being out with an injury. However, Emre Can was head and shoulders above his peers and will remain the most critical piece of the Reds midfield for the United game. He is tenacious, can pick a pass and has shown an incredible understanding of the game especially since making the permanent move to the Liverpool midfield.
The Defence remains an area of concern
The Liverpool defence was an absolute shambles against Arsenal. While much of it comes from the uninspiring presence of Simon Mignolet, the defenders need to step up their game. Arsenal were able to thread through balls without much effort and remained a threat with every set piece that they were presented with. Special mention must be made of Simon Mignolet who let in a goal at the near post, let a corner with the faintest of touches get through him and looked a liability dealing with the balls that were floated into the area. No amount of quality at the top of the pitch will be enough for the side unless Mignolet can plug the leaks.
United were good in attack against Newcastle and given the presence of the likes of mobile forwards like Martial, Klopp would be forced to start Caulker ahead of a far more experienced yet slow Kolo Toure. Whatever the combination, the central defensive unit of the side need to push the notch way higher to not let the side down like the last week.
All in all, given the side’s against the bigger names in the league, the United game will be a treat and we hope the Reds can emulate, if not better their Arsenal performance.