Three matches into the 2012-2013 season, and Brendan Rodgers still doesn’t have a win to his name, with Liverpool falling at home to Arsenal 0-2 with two Santi Cazrola – Lukas Podolski counter attacking goals, and Arsene Wenger finally sees a win from his players this season while not picking out a single ball from their net.
Liverpool and Rodgers are in trouble, because it’s not like they’ve played badly in this match as well. They dominated most of the play, created more chances around the box and inside it but still failed to come off as winners, this time not even coming up with the point after bad defending on Podolski’s first goal and a sloppy save from Pepe Reina (once again) when it was Cazorla’s turn to score.
The passing between Joe Allen, Steven Gerrard and Nuri Sahin was decent, even good at times. Raheem Sterling had a few dazzling moments on the wing and Luis Suarez was dangerous, but that was it. Fabio Borini gets lost as a winger who has to do too much defending for his kind of player, Luis Suarez was anything but focused with his final touches and Steven Gerrard has seen better days, while Nuri Sahin is clearly out of playing form and Glen Johnson didn’t provide the kind of quality support Liverpool need from him.
On the other side, Arsenal don’t play their fancy passing game anymore, but the world has changed. Naive, attractive football doesn’t work unless you really have quality on your team, like Barcelona, and there’s pretty much only one team like that in Europe. Instead, it’s better to have solid defending, with Per Mertesacker and Tomas Vermaelen combining excellently in the middle of the box, while Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs had solid days on the flanks. The rest was simply up to execution and making the most out of their chances.
First it was a Steven Gerrard turnover to Podolski, who found Cazorla surging forward and ran more than half the pitch without getting picked up to provide the finish. Some nice 1-2 passing between the two in the second half found Cazrola in a less than comfortable angle, but the Spaniard simply blasted to the middle, and Reina parried it into the wrong direction, deflating the Liverpool spirits.
Jonjo Shelvey who came on for Sahin had a few nice tries off the bench, but Mannone proved he might be worth more than being Arsenal’s third goalkeeper. Arsene Wenger doesn’t have a quality side like he dreamt of, but suddenly he’s managing an efficient and balanced side. Brendan Rodgers, without the support he was promised on the transfer deadline day, seems to be in more than a bit of trouble.