From the first minute at Anfield, there was only one team in it.

Liverpool simply wanted it more than Arsenal, but it wasn’t just drive that helped them in this destruction of Arsène Wenger‘s men, but real quality too.

The Reds’ front three will cause everyone problems this season, and it was no surprise that Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah all got on the scoresheet too.

Daniel Sturridge was the man who put the icing on the cake in what was a magnificent performance by Liverpool.

And as good as Liverpool were, Arsenal were simply awful and there will be a number of questions asked as we go into the last few days of the transfer window.


Team Whispers: Liverpool FC (24.08.2017) | FWTV by FootballWhispers

But what did we learn from Anfield? Here are our four tactical takeaways.

Liverpool’s midfield showed Arsenal’s up

Before the game, we wrote about how the midfield could be where the game was won and lost, and in the first half nothing was more evident than the difference between the two sides there.

Liverpool were running, endlessly harrying, while their Arsenal opponents were just stationary.

The role of a midfielder involves protecting the defence at times.

Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka completely failed to do that.

Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson not only protected their defence but they destroyed their Arsenal counterparts, who were lethargic.

From the early moments Arsenal’s lack of defensive responsibility in midfield was obvious, Ramsey was focused on going forward.

Emre Can

And Liverpool scoring so many goals from counter attacks underlined this.

Ramsey was looking the wrong way and caught up the pitch for most of the move that saw Firmino break the deadlock.

The Welshman jogged back and was in his own half when Mané picked up the ball for the second before firing home.

If there were any questions as to where Ramsey’s best position, it clearly isn’t in the middle of the pitch in a 3-4-3.

And he wasn’t helped by Mesut Özil.

There was a moment in the opening of the game (below) that led to Can playing in Salah that saw Liverpool play around Ramsey and Özil, with the Welshman jogging towards his man while the German resembled a statue. You can’t do that in your own half.

That showed Liverpool that they would win the midfield battle and they took full advantage of it.

If Arsenal want to carry on with the 3-4-3, they need a more solid midfielder. Francis Coquelin looked a bit better in the second half, but they did switch formation.

Oxlade-Chamberlain disappoints

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is said to be a Chelsea transfer target and has reportedly turned down the offer of a new contract at Arsenal to force a move.

He’s also been subject of Liverpool transfer talk and you would have expected him to try and impress any onlooking scouts, or his potential new manager Jürgen Klopp.

Instead he was well below par. Going forward he offered next to nothing, while he really looked like he wasn’t a wing-back in defence.

Perhaps he’s the victim of his versatility, but he looked completely out of his depth.

Of course he won’t be the only man to be destroyed by Mané this season, but you would have though he would have perhaps given more support to Rob Holding.

When Liverpool got his second, he was absolutely nowhere to be seen, despite Mané being on his side.

Even for the first, he was guilty of talking to Ramsey rather than watching the play.

He looked slightly better playing further forward briefly in the second half, but this showing didn’t help his case for being a wing-back.

The lack of intensity from the England man was so obvious, and you can’t blame his contract situation – Can also has a year left on his deal at Anfield and he was everywhere.

Liverpool like a cross or two

Liverpool’s front three of Mané, Firmino and Salah are ridiculously fast, but we all knew that already.

Neutrals, who don’t watch the Reds every week may have been surprised at how they weren’t averse to putting in crosses too.

In fact, they put in eight successful crosses, compared to Arsenal’s one.

The opener came from a lovely ball in, finished well by Firmino with his head.

They may not be the tallest team, but they were consistently better in the air than Arsenal, perhaps because they wanted it more.

Liverpool vs Arsenal

It worked well too, with Mané and Salah cutting inside, which made the Arsenal backline narrow.

Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno weren’t afraid of getting forward, while Henderson, Wijnaldum or Can would also appear wide to put the ball in.

It’s no coincidence that two of the goals were headers.

Their breaks are dangerous, but they can also camp you in your own box and pepper your backline with crosses that will cause problems – and don’t expect them to go full David Moyes vs Fulham, when his Manchester United side attempted a record-breaking 81 crosses.

Mignolet vs Karius?

All the talk before the game was about how Simon Mignolet had been left out of the squad completely, with Loris Karius making his first start in the league in 2017.

The takeaway from the game is that we don’t really know if Klopp was right or not.

Arsenal had a grand total of no shots on target. That’s how poor they were.

Karius was guilty of a few shaky moments with the ball at his feet, but he could definitely blame Joël Matip for a lazy back pass.

In fact, Mignolet’s passing has been much better this season – averaging a 72 per cent pass distribution accuracy, compared to the German’s 42 per cent against Arsenal.

It was also interesting to see Karius prefer a punch to a catch – he completed no catches (not that he dropped one either), and made two punches.

So far this season Mignolet has completed five catches and made one punch.

Whoever Klopp goes with in the future will definitely have much tougher tests this season, probably against every other team they face.

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