Talking Tactics: Mertesacker is the villain as Gunners stage a comeback to earn a point against Liverpool in 4 goal thriller at the Emirates.

Goals galore, great comeback, defensive lapses, moments of brilliance, creepy celebrations and pathetic dives – the game between Arsenal and Liverpool at the Emirates had it all but the spoils shared will surely have resulted in entertainment for everyone other than the two managers.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Suarez) – After Sagna’s slip let Glen Jonhson in, Arsenal’s giant in defense, Per Mertesacker makes a feeble attempt to stop the cross. Gunner’s captain Tomas Vermaelen makes a complete hash of his clearance and the ball falls to Danny Sturridge.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Suarez)

Sturridge’s shot is blocked by the keeper and the rebound comes into the path of the onrushing Jordan Henderson, who lays the ball into the path of the inform Luis Suarez. Instead of throwing his body on the line, Mertesacker looks disinterested and makes a laughable attempt for a challenge as he turns his back to the Liverpool striker who has no problems in slotting the ball calmly to give Liverpool the lead.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Suarez) part 2

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Chance for Walcott) – Glen Johnson epitomizes the modern day full back. Full of endeavor in attack but can’t defend to save his life. Jack Wilshere skips past a challenge in midfield before playing a delightful pass into the path of Theo Walcott who just ghosts past the ball watching Johnson. Pepe Reina save Johnson’s blushes by making a neat save to deny Walcott.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Chance for Walcott)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Brilliant Suarez) – The man of the moment Luis Suarez plays a delightful through ball with the outside of his right foot but Sturridge is unable to finish the move with his weaker foot.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Brilliant Suarez)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Goal Keeping Blunder, Szczesny) – Arsenal nearly shoot themselves in the foot. When Szczesny receives the ball, all he has to do is put his foot through it to clear his lines (for which he has enough time) and release the pressure. Instead he chooses to attempt a drag back to look good on the cameras and gets it all wrong. Sturridge wins the ball but is selfish and tries to do it all on his own and the move breaks down.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Goal Keeping Blunder, Szczesny)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Moment of brilliance by Cazorla) –Arsenal’s Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla is a magician on the ball and his skills were on show for a worldwide audience. But Liverpool manager Brendon Rodgers will be furious as all of his players were caught ball watching as Cazorla faked a shot and played a peach of a reverse pass into the path of Vermaelen. Thankfully Vermaelen’s shot was blocked and Walcott curled effort was tipped around the post by Reina to keep Liverpool in front.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Moment of brilliance by Cazorla)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Mertesacker – the Liverpool playmaker) – If what Szczesny did earlier was stupid then what Mertesacker did was pure criminal. The German under no pressure misplaces a simple pass straight to Jordan Henderson. The Liverpool midfielder then plays the ball into the oncoming Suarez but Vermaelen makes a challenge and the danger is cleared.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Mertesacker – the Liverpool playmaker)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Liverpool corner – why Szczesny? why?) – Steven Gerrard takes a corner and Wojciech ‘De Gea’ Szczesny looks to come for the ball and ends up in no mans land. Danny Agger’s header is thankfully cleared off the line by Lucas Podolski. For now it looks like an individual battle between the Arsenal keeper and Per Mertesacker for the award of the ‘Best Liverpool Player’.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Liverpool corner – why Szczesny)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Henderson chips the on rushing Szczesny) – The two Arsenal center halves are too far apart. While Vermaelan seems to be keeping an eye on Sturridge, Mertesacker is ball watching and Jordan Henderson makes a beautiful run to meet Downing’s pass but his chip over the onrushing keeper has too much weight on it.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Henderson chips the on rushing Szczesny)

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Good Defending, Wisdom) – Wilshere plays the ball into Podolski’s feet after a good Arsenal move. Podolski manges to turn the defender to bring the ball on to his left foot but Andrea Wisdom uses his body strength to shield the ball away from the German striker.

Arsenal 0-1 Liverpool (Good Defending, Wisdom)

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Henderson) – A decent Liverpool move results in Suarez finding Downing out wide on the right hand side. The Liverpool winger plays a first time pass into Sturridge who manages to turn Vermaelen and find Henderson who is one on one with Mertesacker. The Arsenal defender who had a shocker this match gets his body position all wrong and is caught square by Henderson who easily goes past him with a drop of the shoulder. Henderson’s first attempt is blocked but the rebound falls kindly into his path and  he doubles Liverpool’s advantage by slotting the ball into the empty net.

Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Henderson)

Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Giroud) – Walcott decides to take the game by the scruff of the neck and goes past a couple of players before being brought down. Wilshere takes the resulting free-kick and an unmarked Olivier Giroud (clearly no one is bothered to put pressure on the Arsenal target man)  heads past Reina to bring Arsenal back into the game.

Arsenal 1-2 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Giroud)

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Walcott) – Walcott brings Arsenal on level terms to score his 18th of the season. He starts the move by “winning a header” (I too can’t believe what I am writing). Liverpool look to have enough numbers back when the ball reaches Wilshere but then suddenly fall asleep. Danny Agger lets Giroud get a yard in front of him, Lucas lets Walcott run past him and looks to close down Wilshere instead and Gerrard stands ball watching. Wilshere plays the ball into the feet of Giroud who lays it off for Walcott whose first time shot riffles into the bottom corner past a shell-shocked Pepe Reina.

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (GOAL!!! Walcott)

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Walcott’s celebration) – Walcott’s celebration was that of an old man with a walking stick. I have no idea what it was all about, but a part of me thinks he might be taking the mickey of Reina who clearly showed the reflexes of an 80 year old.

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Walcott’s celebration)

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Panic mode – ON) – Liverpool clearly were shell shocked as they let a two goal lead slip through their fingers in a matter of minutes. Rodger’s passing game goes out of the window and is replaced by some Hollywood passes that are way off the mark. Sadly Giroud decides to have a tumble and the move ends with him receiving a yellow card for simulation.

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Panic mode – ON)

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Miss by Giroud) – The Liverpool center back leave too much space between each other as Agger goes wide in an attempt to block the cross. Podolski manages to find Giroud who is unmarked, but the French International misses the chance to give Arsenal all 3 points from 6 yards.

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Miss by Giroud)

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Chance for Suarez) – The Arsenal center backs do the exact opposite this time and are too close to each other. Vermaelen looks to go and help his full back against Suarez but Mertesacker already has his mind in the team bus (stands on his heels). Suarez could have laid a chance on a silver platter for Henderson at the far post but his shot is smartly saved by Szczesny.

Arsenal 2-2 Liverpool (Chance for Suarez)



VERDICT – A draw was probably a fair result on the night but both teams will look to improve defensively to continue with their push for a Champions League Spot.

– By Rohit Shankarmani.

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