It’s finally time ladies and gentlemen, after weeks of predicting line ups, anticipation, excitement and speculation.
Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal, which over the years has not been the kindest of stomping grounds for the Reds. Only taking three points the once in eight attempts, it’s becoming a real bogey ground for Liverpool. Having said that looking at our new style and the Klopp factor, there’s a new belief in the team and maybe we can put an end to all these hoodoo teams. Liverpool and Arsenal both with similar ambitions this season, top four/ maybe more? Neither will want to lose as a win would set a marker out for rest of the season. I’m really expecting a high tempo performance for Liverpool today as Klopp looks to regain the fear factor.
Liverpool team: Mignolet, Cylne, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Lallana, Mané, Coutinho, Firmino. Substitutes: Manninger, Grujic, Can, Origi, Matip, Stewart, Alexander.
Arsenal team: Cech, Monreal, Chambers, Holding, Bellerin, Eleny, Coquelin, Walcott, Ramsey, Iwobi, Sanchez. Substitutes: Ospina, Gibbs, Wilshere, Cazorla, Akpom, Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Liverpool started the first half slightly nervous looking and to be fair Arsenal pushed their style of football on us, passing much tidier and threatening with possession. A half to forget for Moreno, bad headed clearances, rash tackles, ball watching then a disastrous attempted clearance that wiped out Walcott in the penalty area. For the second time Simon Mignolet saves a first game penalty, guessing correctly diving to his right to save the day. All of 68 seconds later Moreno was again caught out of position, leaving Walcott plenty of space to fire home into the far right corner. 1-0 Arsenal.
After some sloppy passing, Liverpool started to get into rhythm putting together some faster passing and getting forward. Firmino firing wide after a good Henderson interception. Sadio Mané showing us flashes of his speed and strength though often being crowded out. A slow disappointing half from Liverpool turned on its head from one Philippe Coutinho, winning a free kick and producing a wonderful curled shot into the top left sweet spot. The perfect free kick, 1-1 game on. End of the first half.
If ever the words ‘a game of two half’s’ was more relevant than this game. Only three minutes into the second half and Liverpool were attacking in packs, Wijnaldum cleverly finding Lallana who had great composure to chest it down and tucked it neatly between Cech’s legs, 2-1 Liverpool. Starting to look like the Klopp team we hoped for.
Liverpool now running riot, unrecognisable to the first half. Passing the ball much faster, one touch stuff but being braver on the ball, not going backwards, always looking to be direct at goal. Only seven minutes later and Clyne whipped in a cross from the right for Coutinho to flick in off his left shin! What a turn around, 3-1!
It didn’t stop there, Lallana coming close again after Cech parried a shot away. Mané added to the Liverpool fans delight, with searing pace down the right twisting in and out, cutting inside and smashing the top right! The away section at the Emirates is in dreamland, with “Jürgen Klopp la, la, la la” echoing around the stadium, 4-1 Liverpool.
Here came the reality check, Oxlade-Chamberlain cutting in from the right and catching Mignolet out near post, 4-2. Liverpool looking so dangerous on the counter, Firmino playing in Coutinho only for our magician to slow down, anxious moments of worrying about another dreaded injury. Thankfully looks like cramp, but Coutinho’s pivotal display is over for today. The pressure cranked up after a perfect set piece from Arsenal, Chambers getting the slightest of touches to edge it away from Mignolet’s fingertips. Game on 4-3, the Premier league at its best. The Emirates was momentarily lifted with hopes of a equaliser, but Liverpool held on. Origi’s presence was just what we needed, great hold up play helping run down the clock. Firmino with Liverpool’s last chance came when Arsenal seemingly froze for a second letting Wijnaldum steal the ball and Firmino’s shot went wide. Five minutes added time and after a few panicky clearances along with sturdy performances from Lovren and Klavan and its game over, mission complete.
Liverpool used substitutes: Origi, Stewart, Can.
Arsenal used substitutes: Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla.
My man of the match has to be Coutinho, really turning the game on its head with that incredible freekick and his getting in the box to add to his tally. I also have to give a mention to debutee Sadio Mané, my goodness what a player we have on our hands here, non stop, aggressive and so direct as Klopp quoted a “game changer.” Very exciting to see how our attacking players will click, bear in mind this is the first game. Memories of the 2013/14 seasons goal fest filling my mind.
Obliviously there’s still the concern of conceding three goals while 4-1 up, as the transfer window is still open maybe this was a blessing in disguise. A left back looks like a priority after being the weak link again and a proper defensive midfielder would be handy to further strengthen the defence.
On the whole Liverpool were back with a bang. Heavy metal football just as we was promised. Liverpool fans will be going to bed tonight dreaming after that second half and surely that’s what being a football fan’s all about. Whether or not our dreams become a reality is yet to be known but one thing’s for certain, fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be some season.
Written by Ben Webb