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Match Analysis: Arsenal - Liverpool

Dominating by taking advantage of Liverpools

sticking on the initial plan
By Michail Tsokaktsidis
Arsenal deservedly defeated Liverpool and proved to be Premier Leagues best
form team.



1ST half: Arsenal pressed high and took advantage of Liverpools

sticking on the initial plan
Arsenal: Arsene Wenger started with a 4-3-3 formation. Giroud was in the centre while
Ramsey and Sanchez on the flanks. Ozil, Cazorla and Coquelin played in midfield. The
main aim for Wenger was to dominate possession through combination play which was
based on the two quality attacking midfielders Ozil and Cazorla, as well as on the
numerical advantage of 3 v 2 in the centre of the field. Coquelin moved in supporting
positions and provided safety and balance while Monreal and Bellerin provided width
and support to the wingers Sanchez and Ramsey. During the defensive phase Arsenal
wanted to apply pressure high and win the ball immediately back during negative
The diagram shows that there was a 3 v 3 situation at the back of Liverpool but by the
dropping of Moreno and Henderson deeper, during the defensive phase, Liverpools
formation was changed to 5-4-1.

This resulted a 3 v 5 at the back while Sanchez and Ramsey had to deal both with
Henderson and Moreno as well as Can and Sakho who provided support to them.

Liverpool stayed compact during defending and Arsenal despite dominating possession
couldnt break through them. On the contrary they managed to create scoring chances
by two ways:
) by the heavy pressure up front and the fast positive transition through combination
play as well as b) by the counter pressure (reacting immediately after the loss of
possession). Liverpool was caught disorganized and unbalanced several times.
During pressing application, Arsenals players aimed to put pressure on all three
defenders Toure, Can and Sakho by blocking the passing options towards the wing
backs Moreno and Henderson and forcing them to play towards the centre (to Lucas or
Allen). By this action the ball was forced towards where Arsenal had numerical
advantage (3 v 2).

Additionally during positive transition Arsenal wanted to exploit the spaces between the
three Liverpool defenders resulted by the positioning of them during building up as well
as their slow reactions after loosing possession (especially Toure).
During the carry out of counter pressing, Arsenal was favored by the positioning of most
Liverpools players (behind the ball and in the same line), which prevented them from
providing support in different angles to the man in possession and resulted the lack
(except for Sterling) of passing options.

Additionally Liverpool despite the fact that their players (especially the back three)
lacked the necessary concentration, they were stuck on the initial plan, (to build up from
the back even in situations of high pressure by Arsenal). This resulted many lost balls
20-30 yards from their own box, which gave Arsenal the chance to counter and create
The following video indicates several of these occasions as well as Arsenals third goal
On the contrary when Liverpool moved the ball to Arsenals defensive half (after the first
quarter), they managed to retain possession even in situations of intensive pressure.
Furthermore the Reds took advantage of the numbers up near the side lines either by
the direct combination play on the strong side or by moving the ball towards the weak
side. They also were very close to score the opening goal but Markovic and Sterling
missed the chance.
When balance was restored in the match, Arsenal scored twice and proved how details
can make the difference. In the first goal Bellerin made a driving run towards the inside,
while there were 3 - 4 Liverpool players around him. However none of them blocked his

shooting lane with his left foot and Arsenal fullback made the shot and scored. As
regards the second goal, Sakho committed an unnecessary foul to Ozil outside the box,
which the German took advantage. Finally the 3rd goal came after positive transition for
Arsenal, in which Sanchez took advantage Toures bad decision to commit a tackle,
instead of playing for time and took the shot.

2nd half:
Rodgers started by switching Markovic with Sturridge and also switched the formation to
4-3-3. Sturridge took his role in the centre of the attack, while Sterling was on the left
and Coutinho and Allen in front of Lucas in the centre. Arsenal also switched to 4-2-3-1
with Ozil taking up a position behind Giroud. Wenger replaced Koscienly with Gabriel as
a reaction to Sturridges coming into play.

The 4-3-3 helped Liverpool improve during the building up. This took place mainly on
the left where Sterling played 1 v 1 against Bellerin or through combination play
between Moreno Sterling and Allen who tried to create numbers up.

On the other hand Arsenal by switching to 4-2-3-1 stopped pressing high and waited for
the opponents within the middle third with the aim of staying compact and playing quick
combination play on the counter. However, when they lost possession they tried to
regain it as soon as possible by putting immediately pressure on the ball. The tempo
was high and there were scoring chances for both teams. By bringing Flamini in,
Wenger wanted to strengthen Arsenal in the midfield, while Sanchezs moving to the
right gave an extra problem for Moreno and also make it harder for the Reds to attack
on this side. Furthermore Ozil moved on the left as Can was thought to be a less
dangerous attacking threat.
From then and on Liverpool dominated possession but couldnt create much, while
Arsenal despite the fact that they didnt have the ball they controlled the game.
Wellbeck came in (72) replacing Ozil with the aim of giving extra speed during positive
transition. Hendersons successful penalty kick gave Liverpool hope that the Reds could
achieve something more but Cans sent off ended it soon.

The intensive and synchronized pressure high up the field from Arsenal during first half
as well as the taking advantage of the positive transition, in conjunction with Liverpools
sticking on the initial plan (to build up from the back), lead the Reds in many mistakes.
These mistakes proved to be crucial as Arsenal took advantage of them and scored
three goals in the first half.