Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2 was the end result after 90 minutes at Anfield when the two clubs met in their third English premier League match of the current season.
Liverpool fans worldwide were undoubtedly disappointed at the result.
The final score does not however reveal what actually happened on the field of play.
For long spells Liverpool were dominant in the match especially in the first half. They ended the game with the lion share of possession and exhibited a neat passing game. However as has been the problem in the past season the team did not convert the several chances they were able to manufacture.
Arsenal were on their part clinical on the day. They converted the two open chances that they made. Abou Diaby was instrumental in midfield providing the link between defence and attack and ensuring good movement with weighted passes and well judged defence splitting runs. Santi Carzola was again a pivotal figure helping to set up the first goal and scoring the second himself. Howard Webb however denied Luis Suarez a clear penalty when Metasacker (who was already on a yellow card at the time) hauled the Uruguayan in the penalty box. At 1-0 that decision was definitely a game changer.
The question that however lingers is should Liverpool fans be worried after the poor start to the season? After all the second loss in three games and their points tally of 1 represents the club's worst start to a season in 50 years.
I think not. To the contrary Liverpool fans should be optimistic.
The statistics of the Liverpool vs Arsenal game are telling.
Liverpool had 19 shots against Arsenals 11 with 4 on target. Possession was 51-49% in Liverpool's favour. Liverpool also dominated the corner count with 10 corners against Arsenal's 2.
Evidently from the foregoing Liverpool did give as good as it got. The only major difference was that Arsenal were clinical in front of goal as opposed to the Reds' profligacy.
Of great concern has been the decline in performance of Liverpool's number one keeper. Hard questions must be asked of Pepe Reina. In the past few months the once assured custodian has been inconsistent between the sticks and was to blame for the second goal and could have prevented the first.
It is to be remembered that in the Reds last game, a Europa qualifier against Hearts FC, Reina almost cost Liverpool a place in the group stages with an almost disastrous blunder. Luis Suarez however saved his blushes with a well worked equalizer.
It is time that Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers bit the bullet and gave a chance to Liverpool's other goalkeepers and especially Brad Jones who impressed in pre season.
The traditional back four of Agger, Skrtel, Enrique and Johnson though not quite up to speed just yet form one of the most commanding back four partnerships in the Premier League. Agger and Skrtel are also potential goal scorers in their own right with Skrtel already registering a goal to his name this season. Once the four get their act right Liverpool will be hard to beat at the back.
In the middle of the park there is further room for optimism. Liverpool signed a number of talented midfielders in the pre season: Nuri Sahin and Joe Allen being the signings of note.
Joe Allen has been outstanding in the midfield.
His pass rate is currently at 94%, one of the best in the league. In the games against Man City and Arsenal his passing was impressive and he will provide a conduit for Liverpool attacks in the games to come.
Jonjo Shelvey has also come of age and a solid partnership is forming between the two. Steven Gerrard has however looked off the mark this season. It will be remembered that it was his mistake that led to the first Arsenal goal. Just like Reina, Rodgers who prefers the 4-3-3 system must be prepared to sacrifice Gerrard if he continues to falter. Nuri Sahin can be given a chance along with Allen and Shelvey in the middle.
The main problem that Liverpool faces is upfront and it is now beyond doubt that Luis Suarez needs assistance, and fast, if Liverpool are to assert themselves in the final third of the field. Despite his eye catching skills and mesmerizing dribbles Suarez has one of the worst conversion rates among the strikers in the EPL.
In reality Liverpool requires a clinical striker in the mould of Van Persie to convert the many assists that will now surely come from midfield. Raheem Sterling has impressed for Liverpool but it is to be noted that the speedster is more of a winger than an out to out striker.
Rumour has it that Liverpool are considering a move for Didier Drogba and signing up former legend Michael Owen who is currently a free agent. The fact that Liverpool did not sign any new strikers during the transfer period amazed many and it has now emerged that the owners did not want to pay over the market prices for some of the Club's potential targets Tottenham's new striker Clint Dempsey and Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge.
The club's owners have issued a statement warning the fans against risky spending. In the statement main owner John W. Henry says that the owners would not damage the club by risky spending but pledged their commitment to continue building the club. Henry further confirmed that the owners strategy was not to 'cement a mid table place with expensive, short term quick fixes'.
This ideology is quite evident in the spending that Liverpool has undertaken this past transfer window. The additions of Nuri Sahin, Joe Allen, Oussama Assaidi, Samed Yessil and Fabio Borini show that the club is not fixated by big money purchases but instead by signing players who will add value to the club.
It is still early times to judge striker Fabio Borini. Most of the strikers who later made it in the EPL went for several games without registering a goal. Thierry Henri easily comes to mind. He was on an 8 game drought when he joined Arsenal in 1999 before scoring his first goal against Southampton. He later went on to amass an incredible 228 goals for the Gunners.
Borini's talent will eventually shine through. At the moment Liverpool have no option than to stick with him with the option of replacing him with Stewart Downing if the performances by the Italian do not improve.
All in all it is evident that the doom and gloom at Anfield is only but for a while. Close followers of the club's fortunes will notice that the club has been in decline for several years now. The work being put in to reinvigorate the club and place it back in the pinnacle of English and World football will also in like measure take a while. There is no quick fix and the Liverpool fans must exercise some patience.
Brendan Rodgers is without doubt the right man for the job. His positive outlook and innovative ideas will in the end lift the club from the doldrums.
The quality of football that Rodgers seeks to impose on the club is slowly taking shape and has been evident in the last two games. The team now plays with some element of fluidity and it is certainly only a matter of time before the hard work on the Melwood training ground is replicated on the pitch. Only a myopic observer will fail to notice the sure and steady strides that the club is slowly making.
It will however be necessary for Rodgers to now concentrate on the final third of the pitch and come up with a strategy that ensures that the conversion rate matches the impressive work from the midfield.
It is still not yet time to worry it is still early days. Liverpool will rise up from the ashes.
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