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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Arsenal Fails To Deal With Liverpool’s Red Surge

Written by on February 8, 2014 | 18 Comments »
Posted in Arsenal, Liverpool

Arsenal arrived at Anfield leaders of the Premier League but they were humbled 5-1 by a rampant Liverpool team that solidified its hold on 4th place. Here are some thoughts on the game and the aftermath.

 

Liverpool’s early surge and Arsenal’s disbelief

A look at the timing of Liverpool’s goals this season shows they are very much a first half team that looks to start quickly and then tends to fade as the game goes on. Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger talked about this before the game so there is no reason Arsenal should have been surprised at Liverpool’s aggressive… to read more please click on the link.


18 Responses to “Arsenal Fails To Deal With Liverpool’s Red Surge”

  1. Rob says:

    Do they fade or do they tend to sit back and soak up pressure? I would say its the latter since they are usually in a comfortable position.

    Take the West Brom game last week and Liverpool were quite comfortable. If Suarez finishes that gilt edged chance Liverpool is up 2-0. West Brom has to push forward and abandon the middle of the pitch with their two defensive midfielders, (and even then it doesn’t matter if Kolo passes it straight to Anichebe for a gift). They probably add 1 or 2 more to that 2-0 and they go out comfortable winners, with the final 2 or 3 goals being scored in the second half.

    My point is that this season they’ve been fortunate enough to get the goals and opportunities early in most of the matches this year. I don’t think its a case of Liverpool being a first half team vs a team that fades in the second half. Or as you put it, that would be a red herring :)

    Oh and thanks for the being the first analyst I’ve read to give credit to Liverpool and say that they do have a shot at the title. While I don’t think they will win it, its frustrating to hear so many pundits write off a team that is only 6 points off the pace and has 1st and 3rd at home where Liverpool have already won by four goals against 2nd and 6th( and don’t forget they won by five at the home of the 5th place team).

  2. Disagree completely on generally sitting back and soaking up pressure. I have probably watched more Liverpool matches this season than I ever done before and they fade.
    They will improve that part of the game but it is a reality at the moment.

    No team can play with that intensity for 90 minutes.

    Just to be clear – I don’t think they can win the PL but the longer they hang in there is always a possibility of sneaking through with others perhaps facing a heavy fixture list through fighting on multiple fronts.

  3. Seattle Loon says:

    I think a big part of why Liverpool fade is the thinness of their squad. Compared to every other team in the top seven they have very little quality on the bench who can come on to relieve starters or change things up.

    For that reason, I have to commend Rodgers for what he has accomplished especially since he has also had to cope with absences through injury or suspension. His development of Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Jon Flanagan has been excellent.

    As for Arsenal there is a churnalistic narrative from many journalists about Arsenal that doesn’t apply to other teams. In spite of their tremendous consistency they are always seemingly one bad result away from crisis.

    The team who have had a terrible week is Man City. One point from six including losing to a title competitor at home and possibly the suspension of their most consistent player too.

    The team I can’t figure out is Spurs. I can’t say I have watched them play really well this season, they have a goal difference of zero yet are three points away from the Champion’s League spots. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

    Talking of luck – what would David Moyes give for just a little of it? Who wouldn’t buy Mata if they had the money? Probably not many teams. But as Bobby has pointed out what they really need is a central defender or two. Vidic looks past it and why were he and Smalling so close together in the build up to Fulham’s first goal today.

    As a Liverpool fan I’d love to see us pick up Kagawa at the end f the season. He is totally wasted in a team more reliant on crosses than a vampire movie but would be a great addition to any team who like to play it throught the middle and need a goal-scoring # 10.

  4. Ed Gomes says:

    Bobby, I agree that Liverpool does fade, but like you mentioned no team can keep up that pace for a full 90 minutes.
    I also get the feeling that Rodgers will mimic Mourinho more and more, as he builds out his squad. He has players with the pace to counter and skillful enough on the ball, to really do damage. Liverpool just needs to build their back line and they could be a force.

    As for Arsenal, we’ll see what happens after this game. You can say they can throw this match out the window, but isn’t this exactly what pundits and fans point to. Will Arsenal have the fortitude to actually contend? I still say no. They haven’y brought in anyone that is a “leader”.
    As for Ozil, he’s a tremendous talent but there’s a reason Real let him go. He’s always been a lackadaisical talent, that needs to be pushed.
    Granted Arsenal are dealing with injuries, but Man United as also had to deal… with… them… Oops, bad analogy.

    I can’t believe that Moyes hasn’t resigned yet. Maybe a thumping from Arsenal and a loss to Olympiacos will do it. This club looks horrible and Moyes doesn’t have the skills to make any moves or changes to correct anything. Maybe it was Everton’s “small club” analogy that masked his inefficiencies.
    His player management has to be brought into question, as well. How do you hand Vidic the Captains Arm Band for the rest of the campaign, when he shouldn’t even be starting?
    How about seeing what you have in the supposed replacements?
    RVP will force his way out in the summer and “world class” players will demand a great deal to come and play for him. Yes Man United still has the “it factor” and finances, but they can’t afford and extended time away from CL play.

  5. Ed – very well reasoned comments

  6. Ed Gomes says:

    Thank you Bobby

    Can someone please forward the following to the Glazers.

    From balls.ie;

    “You know things are bad when Fulham players are comparing your tactics to the Football Conference.
    In the wake of their draw with United yesterday, centre back Dan Burn said ‘I’ve never headed that many balls since the Conference. The former Darlington defender made 22 clearances against the reigning champions, with United attempting a whopping 81 crosses.
    Burn went on to say that United’s approach came as no surprise to Fulham and he especially was delighted they seemingly had no Plan B, ‘We knew that was going to happen and I was happy for them to play like that. He added ‘I’m six foot seven so it helps when dealing with those sort of balls.’

    In the words of Albert Einstein, insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’”

  7. Smiley says:

    Obviously no other mid to lower table teams have a technical Tasmanian Devil such as Suarez but considering Arsenal’s dominance over those types of teams, it will be interesting to see whether the weaker sides attempt to deploy Brendan Rodgers’ Hell for Leather tactics against Arsenal… since nothing else has seemed to work when Arsenal pass and control the midfield.

    ED – I assume you are being sarcastic about Moyes resigning as it has been accepted that The Glazers were always gonna give Gorundskeeper Willie two seasons (CL or not) to put his mark on the team… outta respect for SAF and his decision to appoint Moyes.

    Should Manyoo’s predicament be the same next January, Moyes will be shown the door.

  8. Seattle_Loon says:

    I don’t think that Liverpool employed hell for leather tactics against Arsenal. It felt that way but they had obviously analyzed Arsenal’s defending of set-pieces and practiced them thoroughly before the game. I am sure Brendan Rodgers didn’t think in his wildest dreams two would be converted for goals in the first ten minutes.

    I think Arsenal have a big decision to make re: Ozil on Wednesday. He was the weakest link against Liverpool. Arguably Rosicky who has rarely disappointed this season might be a better bet on current form.

  9. Smiley says:

    @Loon – What does “Arsenal’s defending of set-pieces” have to do with high line pressure, not giving the mids time on the ball and springing quick counter attacks.

    Did you even watch the match?

  10. Seattle_Loon says:

    Smiley. Yeah – I watched the match. And yes I agree with you about Liverpool’s tactics in general.

    But, go back and look at the first two goals from set-pieces. Both were undoubtedly the result of in-depth preparation. Gerrard in general has worked extremely hard on this part of his game. The speed of the delivery for the first goal made it very hard to defend.

    In particular go back and look at Skertel’s 2nd goal from the corner. Henderson checks Mertesacker and Toure checks Sagna giving Skertel a free header under no pressure. Again the result of minute preparation before the game.

    Rodgers has obviously worked hard on this aspect of Liverpool’s game. They went ahead against both Man Utd and Chelsea in key games earlier this year early in the match from set-pieces.

  11. Rob says:

    Fair enough Bobby. While I agree that its difficult to maintain that level of play, intensity and fitness for 90+ minutes, I think Liverpool sit back in the second half as they’ve normally have a lead. In games they’ve been level or losing, they’ve continued to push on from everything that I’ve watched(and I’ve watched all of Liverpool’s games) which hasn’t been many games with either of those scenarios.

    Also I think its crazy to say Liverpool CAN’T win the title. WON’T win the title, I would agree but CAN’T seems crazy after they’ve decimated so much of the competition.

  12. Liverpool have won 15 games this year. At half time they have led in 14, the other was a 2-2 draw with Stoke which they went on to win 5-3.
    Of the other 5 draws and 5 losses they led three of these games and finished with draws each time.
    Of 2 others, they were drawing and finished drawing 1 and losing the other. That leaves 5 remaining.
    Of the five remaining games Liverpool were losing at half time they lost four and drew against Aston Villa.
    So from a losing position or drawn position at half time (11 games in all) Liverpool have gone on to pick up an extra 2 points.
    Or to look at it another way at half time in these 11 games Liverpool had 12 points – by full time that points tally had become 8 pts.
    I would say 44% is a significant sample.

  13. Rob says:

    Bobby-I get what you’re saying and if goals are what decides whether a team fades or not, then yes I would have to agree. I don’t look at just goals. I look at whether they are able to create the bulk of the chances and are able to implement their will on the game as well to scoring goals.

    If you look at their last 5 games where they weren’t winning at the half(so losing or drawing) they’ve been the better team in each of those games, in my opinion. Meaning they have been able to play Liverpool style of football. The last 5 games:

    -Losing 2-1 home to Villa. Create the better of the chances and are able to gain a draw.

    -Drawing 2-2 at Stoke. Outscore City 3-1, turn it into a win and besides a 10 minute period in the second half, they are clearly the better team.

    -Losing 2-1 at Chelsea. Liverpool grow into the game in the second half, have as good of chances if not better than Chelsea. Could’ve easily gained a point.

    -Losing 2-1 at City. Liverpool are definitely the better team in the second half, creating the better chances and controlling the game. If not for a missed sitter by Sterling, its a point for Liverpool.

    -Drawing 1-1 at Hull. Moses misses a sitter when Liverpool is in complete control of the game. Minutes later Hull scores making Liverpool open up more and they concede one more to lose 3-1.

    Now if you go back to the earlier part of the season with Swansea and Southampton I would agree with you that they faded (Newcastle is a game where Liverpool had an extra man so I disregard that and Arsenal was down to tactics of playing three men at the back at the beginning part of the game). But besides Swansea and Southampton, where it seems to be more to early season fitness, Liverpool just don’t seem to be a team that fades. Again, feel free to disagree. I just thought I would explain how I see it.

  14. Smiley says:

    Loon – But Arsenal have had a pretty solid defense this season and have not had many problems defending set pieces. You are using this match to refer to a problem Arsenal had last season not this one.

    Rob – Bobby is providing quantitative data while you are providing “couldas wouldas shouldas”… just saying.

    Bobby - I don’t think you can use this match in citing justification for Arsenal’s and Liverpool’s lack of activity in the January window. Liverpool have one of the best creative CFs in the world (Arsenal do not), Liverpool do not play in Europe (Arsenal do), Liverpool’s main goal is 4th place (Arsenal is title), Liverpool have a general on the field in Gerrard (Arsenal do not) and Liverpool were playing at home and WON the match which is a “chicken or egg” to justify Liverpool’s lack of January transfers.

    Thank you ladies and gentlemen, good night and please try the fish!

  15. Seattle_Loon says:

    As a Liverpool fan I’d say that Bobby and Rob have equally valid points. Like Rob I hope the 2nd half fade is more of a first half-of-the season phenemenon.

    I am saying this off the top of my head but does it feel like few of the leading clubs have been really effective in the last 15 – 20 minutes this season?

    If anyone Arsenal seem to have a decent record in this regard. Man Utd have been woeful, Man City seem to be a bit like Liverpool scoring early on and even Chelsea as their recent games against West Ham and WBA demonstrate have not been able to kill off games at the end. Another exception to this must be Spurs. Can’t see any other way a team with a zero goal difference could be three points off the top four.

  16. Seattle_Loon says:

    One swallow doesn’t make a summer but what a way to turn in your grittiest second half performance of the season. Well done Liverpool.

    The through-ball by Gerrard for Liverpool’s first goal was sublime. He hit it like a pool shot with side and check. His penalty in the 90th wasn’t too shabby either.

    And maybe the best news for Liverpool today was the return of Daniel Agger. Poor Kolo Toure looks as though his confidence is completely shot.

    Bobby – do you think Fulham will stay up? They looked very good first half today and Holtby and a couple of others were excellent. Their second-half performance perfectly illustrated your point that teams find it hard to press with intensity for long.

    Spurs keep on improving. Mind you without Cabaye and being in a relatively safe position Newcastle appear as they have ended their season early.

  17. Rob says:

    Yeah I conceded that if he is going by goals, I can’t argue with that.

    I think this last match showed how Liverpool will continue to push if they don’t have the lead. They pressed more in the second half than they did in the first half.

  18. Alberta Gooner says:

    Congratulations on your two-year anniversary with Forbes, Bobby. Hopefully we’ll see a little more of you on Sportsnet in the near future.

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