Now Where Have We Seen This Before?

Petr Cech saves against Liverpool

 

The cobbled together centre partnership of Calum Chambers and Gabriel Paulista was always going to be the subject of much discussion, before, during after the match against Liverpool at the Emirates. With Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscienly ruled out through illness and a back problem respectively, Arsene was left with no other choice than to dip into his third and fourth choice centre back pockets.

The rustiness of the two centre backs was immediately evident, with the excellent Phillipe Coutinho crashing a shot against the underside of the crossbar as early as the third minute, after escaping their attentions, with Petr Cech well and truly beaten.

Chambers was particularly culpable, misplacing simple passes, five, six, seven, times (i lost count) and gifting Liverpool several chances to take the lead. And he seemed to be getting even more reckless with his passing as the half wore on.

Arsenal actually started the half the brightest; Wenger persisting with deploying Ramsey on the right of the attack, Olivier Giroud upfront and Alexis Sanchez on the left. That tactic seemed to work with Welshman having a goal chalked off incorrectly for offside after being put through with a sumptuous through ball by the captain on the day, Santi Carzola.

That was as good as it got for the home team as Liverpool took advantage of some tetchiness in the Arsenal backline and started forcing them into uncharacteristic errors by pressing them high up. The only reason the half ended goalless was because of some out of the world saves from the Arsenal goalkeeper; once denying Christian Benteke what seemed like a sure goal from only yards out and then tipping a Coutinho curling shot onto his left post. At the break, Arsenal were lucky to not be at least a goal down.

It was an entirely different prospect in the second half, with Arsenal asserting themselves more and retaining possession more better. Special mention must be made of Francis Coquelin, who had probably one of his best matches in an Arsenal jersey, maybe because he was kept busy covering up for the many lapses of those behind him.

Arsenal did have a few chances to take the lead; Sanchez hitting the post after being set up by Giroud. Giroud himself stabbing a weak shot at Mignolet’s goal, while he was being wrested to the floor by Martin Skrtel, which was easily batted away.

While the general play of the Arsenal team wasn’t of the required quality of a Premier League title-challenging tea, it still showed remarkable improvement from the last time Arsenal played at Emirates. But it must still remain a source of frustration and concern for the Arsenal manager that his club has failed to score in five of the last six home games in the league. This, despite firing the most number of shots of any team (61) this season. Whether this malaise can be solved by dipping into the transfer market or with a more organic solution remains to be seen.

On the balance of the two halves, a draw was probably a fair result. Liverpool retaining their unbeaten start to the season while for the Arsenal manager and his players, there is probably some more thinking to be done about their stuttering start to the season




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