Liverpool settled for a point at Arsenal at the end of an absorbing game at the Emirates. Liverpool had their fair share of good chances, and with a bit of luck and competent officiating, the result could have been more favourable for Liverpool.
The key observations from the encounter:
Tough to beat this Liverpool team
Though the forward line are not firing yet on all cylinders, Liverpool have been greatly helped by their solidity in defence. This game was no different as Liverpool kept it tight against an attacking juggernaut. Liverpool had conceded only 1 goal in the first half of the games coming into this fixture, and the number stayed at 1. Such solid defensive performances have alleviated the pressure on the misfiring attack allowing Liverpool to stay in the title race.
All Star Van Dijk
Van Dijk had one of his best games, as he commanded the defence all through the evening. Liverpool often caught the Arsenal attackers in offside positions as the defensive line stayed high to pressurise the Arsenal attack. Van Dijk was a calming presence as Liverpool held on in the first 15 minutes post which Liverpool grew into the game. Van Dijk also had the best of opportunities to score and could have even had a hat-trick only to be denied by Leno on a couple of occasions and was denied by the width of the post on one occasion.
Klopp reverts to Tried and Tested
Fabinho’s emergence in the first XI had coincided with Klopp’s inclination to tweak his system in a couple of lower profile games, with Liverpool allowing Fabinho to sit in a double pivot. Against Arsenal, Klopp though reverted to his tried and tested midfield three, and it was going to be interesting to see how this midfield would function. As it turned out, not very well as the midfield was cut open quite often and Fabinho struggled to impose himself on the ball. It was good on Klopp’s part to tweak the system in the second half so that Liverpool could impose a semblance of control, but I wonder how would the performance have been if Liverpool had started with a 4-2-3-1.
Fabinho gets shown up
Fabinho has had a couple of easy games to settle in but was repeatedly shown up in poor light under the bright lights at the Emirates. Klopp was repeatedly frustrated by Fabinho’s reluctance to pass it quickly, and his passing was often awry. A yellow card meant that Arsenal targeted Fabinho, setting traps to close him down when he was on the ball. Fabinho made a couple of more fouls, but Marriner was lenient enough to allow him to continue in the game. Further games will confirm if it was the formation change which affected Fabinho.
50 for Milner
Milner’s goal was his 50th goal in his Premier League career and by the end of the night his record of remaining unbeaten whenever he scores still stood. This was Milner’s first goal from open play post-2016, and his calm finish put Liverpool ahead after both teams had traded chances at each end.