When you’re facing a team that utterly panics each time Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturrdige come at their defenders, it’s a wise choice to keep attacking with a few players, even if you’re naturally trying to hold on to a lead in an away match. Brendan Rodgers wasn’t too far away from his biggest win as Liverpool manager, but his conservatism blew it once again.
This time, it was his second half game management that ruined Liverpool’s chances. Luis Suarez’ first goal didn’t have anything to do with tactics. It was comedic defending and Suarez’ ambition himself, putting himself in the perfect position to put Liverpool in front. That was followed by a brilliant pass with the outside of his boot across 40 meters to Daniel Sturridge, who decided to take a crack with first touch instead of making use of his fantastic one on one skills.
Liverpool were aggressive in the first half and early in the second, up until their goal. There’s no way they can dominate entirely against Arsenal, but Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson kept pushing forward. Liverpool were playing like a team that came to the Emiratrs to win for a second season in a row.
But Brendan Rodgers doesn’t live up to his name as an innovative manager, and all the talk of pass and move and the mini-Barcelona from hsi Swansea days are long gone. At Liverpool, where the expectations are different, Rodgers often lets the pressure get to him. After losing his lead, he put Jose Enrique in the match for some reason, dropping Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge wasn’t having a great day, but what can you expect from strikers when all four midfielders are busy defending and chasing other players?
Liverpool’s defense continues to look messy and weak physically. Pepe Reina no longer casts even a slither of confidence, and Daniel Agger, not playing next to his favorite partner, isn’t the same centre back. He’s not having the best of seasons, regardless of Martin Skrtel playing next to him or not, but with Carragher on the pitch it was even a harder day for him.
With options like Shelvey, Sterling and Borini on the bench, Rodgers had plenty to do in order to try and win the match, but he preferred settling for the draw. Instead of giving it all to make it only one point between the teams in the league, now the only option for Liverpool to reach Europe, Rodgers was thinking about other things. About not wanting to explain a loss. So instead of using Steven Gerrard the best way that he can, which is something to do with attack, he had the 32 year old chase Jack Wilshere and others like he was the defensive midfielder from a decade ago.
After Enrique was already on the pitch, it was hard to understand why Andre Wisdom, a nice chap but not really oozing with potential from early looks, was left on. Jose Enrique as a winger doesn’t work, and playing with five defenders, three of them full backs, just doesn’t look or sound right. Liverpool could have come away with something much better from London, if their manager had a little less fear in him.