Gini Bottles Arsenal
At what stage do we just stop playing games at Anfield. It’s a waste of everyone’s time isn’t it. We’ve just stuck five past one of the best sides in the country for having the audacity to take the lead. We may as well just make every home game a 3-0 win and the lads can go on holiday every other week. If we were to have a vote on this tomorrow at least 11 of the 20 teams would gladly take it. That’s how good this Liverpool side is. I’d say Anfield is a fortress but the Reds are almost just as good away from home. The Mighty Boys in Red are a fortress on wheels, with the in-built water features set to be ready in early February for the assault on the rest of Europe.
The greatest compliment I can pay to this Liverpool team is that Arsenal scored early and no one cared. No one panicked, I looked at the clock and assured myself there was plenty of time left to turn it round. As it happened it took them all of 5 minutes. The difference in class that Liverpool have gained over Arsenal in a small period of time is astonishing. The gap in quality between Liverpool and Arsenal is similar between that of Arsenal and say a Bournemouth. Liverpool were gently probing in the first fifteen, playing with confidence knowing they had a gear or two to go up if needed. The goal forced this change in tempo and within minutes Liverpool had a firm foothold on the game that never once looked in danger of slipping for the remainder of the whole match.
When I find myself praising this side, one word that I always use is intelligence. I am amazed by it. The current Liverpool squad is littered with brain boxes who know what to do with the ball and when and seem to always make the right decision. The pick of these today, was Gini Wijnaldum. He absolutely ran the show against a highly praised Lucas Torreira who looked completely out of his depth. I’ve seen a few team of the seasons being made as the year comes to a close and Torreira has been in every one of them. He was completely outclassed however by Gini and he couldn’t get near him all night. It was a tremendous midfield display from him. Wijnaldum’s intelligence and ability to almost never give the ball away is staggering and makes him one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. We’ve seen from Fabinho’s short spell so far how difficult it is to play midfield for Liverpool. Despite his excellent performances recently, he has panicked, acted rashly and given the ball away in dangerous positions on multiple occasions, including early on against Arsenal to Iwobi. Wijnaldum always gets himself out of these situations through quickness of thought, incredible strength and sheer technical quality, this is evident from his exceptional 92% pass completion rate throughout the season. His passing accuracy today was a stunning 87.2%, bettered only by Van Dijk, Alisson, Sokratis and Aubameyang out of those who started (6 of Aubameyang’s 10 passes were kick-offs).
Despite Firmino’s hattrick, I felt Wijnaldum was the best on the pitch versus Arsenal and was excellent from the very first minute. The collective intelligence from the team to calm things down after both the second and third goals was particularly impressive, Wijnaldum being integral to this. Previously under Klopp, Liverpool were very vulnerable immediately after scoring, hence the adoration I have for our current crop’s quality in this area. Wijnaldum keeping the ball and slowing the game down when needed is a far cry from the panic and chaos that has long since been eliminated from this team.
Up next is the big one, the biggest test of them all. If these can’t beat us the rest may as well give up and they just might. City on Thursday will be the most difficult game of the season for these Reds, but they are truly up to the challenge and we couldn’t have asked for a better time to play them. This game is now a must-win for Guardiola’s boys, meaning they’ll be more open than in the previous tie. I have absolutely no doubt our players will be up for this and we all know their ability to perform in big games. Up the Reds!!
May we show them no mercy.