The first 10-15 minutes were pretty rough, let’s be honest. None of the Liverpool players seemed to be able to pass the ball, and outside of Sadio Mane, no one seemed to be able to dribble either. Slowly, the Reds began ramping things up, and generated some solid chances. Still, it felt like yet another game where Liverpool would play well, but drop points. Enter Diogo Jota. The Portuegues dynamo came on and instantly contributed, opening the game up and leading to an explosion of goals for Liverpool.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
When Jota came back from his long term injury, I cautioned not to expect an immediate return to his red-hot form. Boy was I wrong, and gladly so. Since coming back, he’s scored 3 goals and added an assist for Liverpool, and also netted 3 times while on international duty for Portugal. He scored just 3 minutes after entering the game today, finding a small pocket of space between defenders to power home a header off of a delectable cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Jota chipped in a second goal with a late charging run into the box, showing his knack for knowing how to get into the right place at the right time.
Former England International Trent Alexander-Arnold
For anyone paying attention, Trent had rounded into form the month before the international break. Thanks to Gareth Southgate’s snubbing him for a call up, Trent looked well rested and eager to show just how wrong his international manager was. Trent showed up everywhere, clipping and driving balls with pinpoint accuracy all game long. He provided 4 key passes, and whipped in 3 accurate crosses. He also made some very dynamic runs from his right back position, getting into some great attacking spots. Alexander-Arnold didn’t shirk his defensive duties either, and kept Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet all game long.
The Brazilian midfielder continues to show just how world-class he is in a holding midfield role. He broke up play and snuffed out attacks before they could even become a danger to the back line. He led the team with 6 tackles. He also played some great diagonal balls from deep, and hit the ball that led to Mohamed Salah’s goal. With Fabinho back anchoring the midfield, the balance of the team just looks so much better.
The Turkish defender has quietly been playing well after a rocky first couple of games. He made a couple of really important plays to clean things up defensively, and is looking much more composed. He is also showing his confidence on the ball, starting to spray it to attackers. Kabak completed 4 of 8 long ball attempts, helping to stretch the field for Liverpool.
It was a thing a beauty
The La Masia Mourinho set his side up to be difficult to break down, but didn’t seem to have much idea of what to do with the ball on the counter. His side only managed three shots all game, and rarely looked to be threatening. Once they gave up the first goal, his Arsenal side just fell apart, showing none of the fight that had them claw back a point after being three goals down to West Ham in the last game before the international break.
Sadio Mane Scoring A Goal
Sadio was spectacular on the dribble, made runs into great areas, and got two shots on net. Unfortunately, Mane yet again couldn’t find the back of the net. He had a header deflected into the arms of the keeper, had another diving header somehow skim off of his forehead from close range, and hammered a late effort into a defender. He has not scored in the league since late January. He still does great work, but hopefully he can start chipping in with a goal or two sooner rather than later.
Dissecting the Narrative
This season is just plain weird. Liverpool looked to be done and dusted in the race for the top 4 after a dire run of form, but none of the teams ahead of them can seem to capitalize either. Liverpool are now just two points back from Chelsea in the 4th spot, and are now even on games. West Ham are even with Liverpool, and Spurs are a point behind, both playing this game week to keep pace. Everton are 3 points behind, but have two games in hand. It’s going to be a wild run in for the 4th spot.
What Happens Next
Liverpool will hope to ride their strong away form with a trip to take on Real Madrid on Tuesday in the Champions League quarterfinals. They then return home to their house of horrors to take on Aston Villa at Anfield next Saturday.