Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal | Tactical Analysis

1st Half

Liverpool FC

In possession

Liverpool and Arsenal drew in a match with 2 very different halves. In the first we saw a big change in Liverpool’s structure with Klopp trying to solve the lack of ball progression in midfield with a 3-2-2-3 in which Arnold was an inverted fullback. The movement of putting Arnold in midfield didn’t work as Arsenal were very quick to adapt. Gabriel Jesus and Odegaard pressing with Martinelli understanding who to press if Arnold or Konate, with Xhaka pushing up to Arnold.

Klopp’s men looked for various solutions to get the ball into the opposition half, one of which was Curtis Jones droppin back to receive the ball trying to generate superiority.

Another solution was Salah who was the player who had the most space to receive, although he didn’t play well with his back to goal. The main danger for Arsenal was the position of Henderson but Zinchenko cover him with Gabriel moving wider.

The other weakness Liverpool tried to attack in the first half was White’s position, who was pressing high up the pitch, jumping to Robertson in many plays, ending up player after player across the pitch.  Thus came Liverpool’s first goal just before half time, attacking the space left by the right back, a goal in transition that changed the course of the game. 2 on 1 in the box as Saka is covering Robertson and no midfielder comes to help, Jota pulling the ball back for Henderson, who then manages to sidefoot it towards the back post. Salah is there and smashes home.

Arsenal FC

In possession

When Arsenal had possession of the ball Liverpool’s intentions were to block the channels avoiding that Zinchenko could play comfortably. No aggressive runs and they only jumped if Arsenal built-up wide, but the gunners progressed with ease.

The first goal is an example of this, a ball to White which Liverpool were late to press, pass to Bukayo Saka who curve run to receive with a good body position, so Saka and the ball end up in the same trajectory being easier to progress the ball. Saka drives towards the Liverpool defence and tries to play a one-two with Odegaard. The return ball comes off Van Dijk and into the path of Martinelli, who superbly pokes past Alisson and into the net.

Another key for Arsenal on the ball was Martinelli trying to attack the back of Alexander-Arnold. Here we can see how Liverpool’s counter-pressing was intese, trying to avoid the pass to the Brazilian, who, when he received the ball, was far superior against the right back.

The second goal came from a play in which Arsenal progressed into the final third with 3 passes, the most important was when Xhaka feeds the ball behind Alexander-Arnold for Martinelli, who then curls a delightful cross into the box where Van Dijk made a serious mistake by not covering Gabriel Jesus who headed in alone.

2nd Half

Liverpool FC

In second half, due to the problems, Liverpool changed the way they pressed, being very similar to Arsenal, with a more aggressive pressure, man-oriented, accumulating many players close to the ball holder which forced Liverpool to play more long balls, losing control of the game.

Klopp changed as well the attack, placing Henderson closer to the wing, giving width, allowing Salah to play  alongside Jota and Gakpo, progressing the ball easily and having much more danger when the Egyptian received in the final third instead of in the middle of the field.

Arteta’s side were forced to defend much closer to goal, although they were too passive, remaining in a low block with almost every player defending inside the box. That dominance led to the equalizer, Alexander-Arnold nutmegs Zinchenko before lofting a superb delivery to the back post, where Firmino is waiting. He heads at goal, and the diving Ramsdale cannot prevent it flying into the net to make it 2-2.

In the final minutes the home side could have won the game and Ramsdale became man of the match with several outstanding saves to earn a point at Anfield, which could prove decisive as the Premier League title race enters it’s final stretch.

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