After four years of consecutive disappointment, Liverpool have made a tremendous start to the season winning six of the opening nine games. Last night, Liverpool had a great chance to go a step forward as a win at the Emirates would have put them in a great position with the Manchester United-Arsenal fixture coming up.
In order to play both Sturridge and Suarez upfront, Rodgers switched his formation to 3-5-2 in the Capital One Cup tie against Manchester United and as it worked well, he decided to proceed with the same in the Premier League too.
1) Starting Line-Up at Emirates- was it too fragile?
Having won only one out of the last 16 fixtures against Arsenal, Liverpool entered the Emirates with the desire of changing their fate. As Glen Johnson was ill, Rodgers made a major decision (but stupid) to start off with Flanagan from the right wing back. Having Sterling, who had already started as right wing back in the games earlier on the bench and Kelly, who had some playing time there this season, wasn’t it a foolish decision by Rodgers to start Flanagan? That too, while playing the league toppers?
2) Wasn’t it a bad decision to replace Cissokho with Coutinho?
Liverpool were trailing just by a goal at half time. Trailing just by a single goal means you can easily come back at any stage of the second half and there is absolutely no necessity for the manager to get tensed and pressurized. But, Rodgers didn’t seem so; he looked tensed, pressurized, vexed and so he made an unneeded change, replacing Cissokho with Coutinho. When the entire team is performing poor, there is no point in blaming a single player unless his commitment is lacking. Though I am not backing Cissokho, I feel no hesitation in stating this change by Rodgers was done without understanding the knowledge of the game.
When Coutinho was introduced, Liverpool switched to 4-4-2 formation, with the Brazilian providing the services as a left winger, Henderson as right winger, Lucas as defensive midfielder and Gerrard without a position to play. Arsenal, with 4-2-3-1 effectively used this space in the midfield and pressed the ball very easily without many problems. I could say this game as the best example to denote the end of 4-4-2 in modern football.
3) Moses at no.10 and Coutinho as left winger – Wasn’t it a foolish move?
When Coutinho was operating from the left in our opening three games, Rodgers said he would be buying a left winger to provide Coutinho a more central role. The Brazilian was found effective when operating from no. 10 rather than from the left side. When Moses was bought in the 67th minute, Coutinho still operated as left winger whereas Henderson was pushed back as right back, Moses at no.10 and once again, Gerrard without a position to play. Playing the professional left winger as no. 10 and no. 10 as left winger was a bad move.
4) Rodgers had no clue in final 10 minutes
For the final 10 minutes, Rodgers once again switched the side to 3-5-2 with Coutinho and Henderson as flanks. Was it the right decision to play a midfielder with less tackling abilities at left wing back? Rodgers lost his patience, his control over the game and went to think in an inappropriate way.
But really this is not the end of the season. With 28 games more to play, a 5-point lead is not at all a matter for concern. Liverpool should focus on avoiding dropping points in relatively easy games. With an ‘easy’ games next against Fulham, Liverpool should work hard to get three points. Rodgers should not lose his patience; he should be focused and drag the negatives from the last game to convert it as positives in the proceeding games. Liverpool should aim high; Liverpool shouldn’t give up; Liverpool should work hard. Play for the title, at least we’ll then get a Champions League place finish.