3 Nov 2013

'Not good enough' - Redknapp blasts LFC duo for Arsenal mistakes. Harsh or fair...?

After weeks of premature backslapping and cloying ego-massage, Liverpool's players came back down to earth with a bump last night and were comprehensively beaten by an Arsenal side brimming with quality, purpose and determination. The Gunners fully deserved their victory, but the same old frailties continue to hamper Liverpool's forward progress, and ex-Red Jamie Redknapp highlighted one of them in his post-match analysis.

All throughout the game, Arsenal had so much space in midfield, and at times, Ramsey, Arteta et al simply strolled through the massive gaps left by Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson. This is an ongoing feature of this season - especially in the second half of games - and this inability to close the space contributed directly to Arsenal's second goal.

Analysing the game on Sky Sports, Jamie Redknapp criticised Lucas Leiva's overall performance in the game, and laid the blame for Aaron Ramsey's goal squarely on the Brazilian's shoulders. He observed:

"Lucas never really covered the right areas that he needed to. His role in the team is sensing danger, and for the second goal, he got attracted to the ball. He didn’t look over his shoulder, and for some reason, he decided to mark Rosicky, which is why Ramsay got so much space. Leaving that sort of space is not good enough"

I absolutely agree with this. Lucas got caught ball-watching, and had no awareness of players drifting in behind him. Redknapp also criticised Kolo Toure's role in the goal:

"Toure turned his back on the ball, and that’s not good enough. I want my centre-half to get hit in the face with the ball. You’ve got to take one for the team, not turn your back"

There's an element of truth to Redknapp's complaint here, but overall, Toure (IMO) had a very good game.

Another issue to consider is Jordan Henderson's role in the goal. It's not shown in the video below, but he was running back towards goal, and watched everything unfold, and when the ball came to Ramsey, he made no attempt to run in and intercept; he just continued running back and watching play unfold.

Whether fans want to accept it or not, Liverpool have serious problems in midfield:

* Gerrard doesn't have the legs to get around the pitch anymore, and Arsenal cruelly exposed his lack of mobility.

* Henderson aside, Lucas and Gerrard don't have the stamina to maintain a high-pressing game for a significant period of time. They were chasing shadows for much of the game.

* Right now, there is ZERO creative threat from the midfield three. Did Hendo, Lucas or Gerrard ever look like scoring, or even creating a goal yesterday? No.

* I've raised this point several times over the last few months, and I will keep making it: LFC's midfielders have not scored a single goal from open play this season. Gerrard hasn't scored from open play for 26 games now; for Hendo, it's 16 games without a goal, and Lucas? Forget about it! (though, to be fair, there's much less onus on him to score/create goals)

The irony here - and the major difference between Arsenal and LFC - is that the Gunners won the game with two goals from...midfielders (!)

Overall, it's a disappointing defeat, but there's absolutely no need for panic stations. Since January, Arsenal have been the best team in the Premier League, and their results show that. Liverpool are going to lose games this season, so fans might as well get used to it, and I'd rather lose to the Gunners than so-called 'lesser' teams like West Brom.

I just wish the players would tone down the ass-kissing. I'm so sick of hearing about how Suarez and Sturridge are 'world class', or how Henderson is 'amazing', or how Gerrard is 'inspiring' and all the guff. It's the same old story every season: a couple of good results, and the players are falling over themselves to massage each others' egos.

Achieve something first, THEN gloat. Until then, just keep it down, stay focused and get on with it.



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