Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp are supposed to be world-class managers but their team’s defensive showings continue to be the stuff of amateurs. That is why the game between Arsenal and Liverpool which finished 3-3 on Friday should have surprised no one.
Liverpool have shown this season they can verily throw away handsome leads – cue the 3-3 with Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League. Before Friday’s game, there had been 21 goals scored in their last four EPL meetings – an average of 5.1 goals per game.
With a goalkeeper like Simon Mignolet, Liverpool will always concede even though Klopp said afterward, “We played 94 minutes and for 89 minutes, the performance was what we wanted.”
But the five minutes cost Liverpool three massive points. The less said about Arsenal the better for the blood pressure. In the first half, a team coached by the Professor looked like 11 strangers cobbled together at Finsbury Park station. Very disjointed, lacking in ideas and unable to find themselves with average passes.
Alexis Sanchez looked his age and uninterested in proceedings – needing almost four to five touches to get the ball under control while many a Gunner fan at the Emirates would have been wondering why the powerful and experienced Saed Kolasinac was benched for 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
A goal down in the first half, in which Liverpool should have been home and dry, Mohamed Salah scored his 15th league goal seven minutes into the second. At this point many with soft spots for Arsene Wenger already imagined the barracking that would develop but lo and behold, Arsenal switched on and scored three goals in 285 seconds [less than five minutes] and all was well again in the Arsenal world.
But just like Klopp said – Liverpool would not have deserved a loss so cue, Petr Cech to produce a sloppy parry that landed in the net – parity restored. On the face of this showing, none of these two will challenge for the EPL title come May.
At the post-match press conference, Wenger said: “I think we should have won at 3-2.
“That’s the frustration of the night. But it could have been game over at halftime.
It was a nightmare first half. We were too far from each other; we were not compact or composed enough. We could have been punished more.”
Yes, frustration, nightmare, and hiccups – all the fare were on show on Friday at the Emirates. The two teams will hope their various defensive hiccups will clear up in the cup competitions so they can go far.
If it does not, would you be surprised – it is still Arsenal and Liverpool, sides that know how to attack but are clueless in the defensive arts.