It looked like Liverpool’s already awful week was going to get worse after conceding two early goals to league leaders Arsenal. Rather than fall apart, as we’ve seen too often this season, the Mentality Monsters of seasons past began to emerge. In the end, Liverpool will be frustrated with a draw in a match they really should have won if there is to be any chance of making it into the top four by the end of the season.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
Signs of Life
After two absolutely dreadful performances in the last week away to Manchester City and Chelsea, it looked like Liverpool were about to capitulate yet again after conceding two early goals to Arsenal. The Reds managed to claw their way back into the match and dominated the second half. It was great to see the likes of Thiago and Darwin getting the crowd revved up as well, and Anfield was an absolute cauldron by the end of the match.
As the song says, give the ball to Bobby and he will score, and that’s exactly what happened late in the second half! Bobby came on as a sub with Liverpool trailing and drifted in to the back post and finishing off a fade-away header off a brilliant cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Along with Firmino, Thiago and Darwin Núñez provided a big boost after they came on the pitch in the second half. Thiago was at his hip-swiveling best, riding pressure and playing some sensational passes to set players free into space. Núñez was a handful as he always is, using his pace and 1v1 skills to great effect. He put a beautiful header back across goal that Ibrahima Konaté chested goal bound in the waning moments, but was ultimately saved.
The French center back covered a lot of ground, often sliding further right to cover Trent Alexander-Arnold as the right back tucked into midfield. Ibou tracked down runners, clogged up passing lanes, and put in a couple of sensational tackles to thwart quick Arsenal attacks. As mentioned above, he came so, so close to giving Liverpool the deserved win in extra time, but could only chest the ball with it being at an awkward height.
Two of the oft-maligned players this season, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, had much stronger performances against Arsenal. Neither were perfect, but they both offered a lot more than we’ve seen in recent weeks and months.
Henderson was more effective with his pressing than he has been in a while, and ended up with two tackles and two interceptions. He was also pretty good on the ball, providing an instinctive redirection that ended up as an assist to Mohamed Salah.
Trent also provided an assist, sending a sensational cross to the back post for Firmino to head home, absolutely roasting Oleksander Ziinchenko on the dribble in the process. The nominally right back varied his deliveries, playing some nice crossfield balls and crosses, and really started to shine late in the match.
It has certainly not been one of Mo’s better seasons, but he was woeful in front of goal against Arsenal. Yes, he did manage to score, but the ball was actually hit into his shin by an Arsenal defender and into the net. Mo managed to miss the goal entirely from the penalty spot for the second time in a row, and struggled in general with his touch and his shooting boots in and around the box. Mo finished with 3 of his 10 shots on target. He got into dangerous positions in the box, but Mo really had a hard time turning that into offensive output.
Mohamed Salah registered 20 touches in Arsenal's box today – that's the most any player has made in the opposition box in a single PL game this season#LIVARS pic.twitter.com/MiEio15jNb— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) April 9, 2023
In typical fashion, Tierney refused to call blatant fouls in either direction in order to “let the game flow”. It was unsurprising that he lost complete control of the match late in the first half as the match devolved into a rugby match with afters.
Worse than Tierney in the middle, however, was one of the linesman who completely lost the plot. Constantine Hatzidakis awarded Arsenal a free kick for an absolutely blatant dive just a few feet in front of him. He then appeared to reach out and elbow Andy Robertson as he walked past him at the end of the first half. Robertson certainly said something (and was shown a yellow card), but that does not absolve the behavior from the linesman. PGMOL came out with a statement while the match was still going saying they were aware of the incident and were investigating.
April 9, 2023
From The Manager
“It was a spectacular game in the end. How we didn’t win it with those late chances I don’t know. I’m caught between. I have no problems with drawing. Arsenal were good but they could & should have lost. The point for them is better.”
What Happens Next
After a frenetic week, Klopp and co get a full week off before heading to Leeds United next Monday. The Reds have struggled mightily away from home, and really need to start piling up wins to keep any of their faint hopes of making the top four alive.