Emery was correct with the Arsenal tactics against Liverpool

FT: LIVERPOOL 3-1 ARSENAL by Alfie Culshaw

Ultimately, obviously losing 3-1 is a disappointing result, but plenty of positives to be taken from our performance.

There was a clear and obvious approach and game plan implemented from Emery and this was reflected in his controversial team selection. Lucas Torreira and Alex Lacazette were left out of the side, surprising and angering many people. However, when thought about logically, I stand by this selection. Torreira had played just 6 minutes of competitive football since the Copa America before this game, so it’s reasonable to suggest that he wasn’t fully ready to start in a game of such high intensity. Lacazette was in and out of our pre-season games, and looked off the pace last week at home to Burnley despite his goal, so was possibly also unready. Add to this the tactical game plan Emery was looking to use, requiring the pace of Aubameyang and Pépé and packing the midfield, these decisions made sense.

And this game plan ultimately worked and came to fruition in the first 40 minutes. We set up with a midfield diamond, forcing Liverpool to go wide and limiting the threat of their narrow wide players in Salah and Mane. Whilst Robertson and Alexander-Arnold frequently had time and space to deliver, with no wingers to close them down, we dealt with these balls for the most part mainly due to the sheer number of bodies we had centrally. Not only did we suppress their threat, we looked a threat ourselves, with the pace of Aubameyang and in particular Pépé causing them several problems in the first period, and should have resulted in us taking the lead. Unfortunately, a lack of concentration from a corner dissipated this game plan and it opened up in the second half, much to our dismay.

Once Salah excellently converted a penalty, given to them by a moment of madness from Luiz (you’ve gotta expect that with him I’m afraid ??‍♂️), we struggled to maintain our rigid and disciplined shape. The game became stretched, and Liverpool began to exert dominance and control over the game. However, unlike in previous years, our heads did not drop, and the players continued to work hard and attempt to bring the game back into our favour. Essentially these attempts weren’t good enough however, and for me it just ultimately served to illustrate the monumental gap in quality between the sides, rather than the endeavour, which is something we’ve been critical about in previous years. Disappointing, but we must not dwell on it; roll on the NLD.


0️⃣1️⃣ Leno 6

1️⃣5️⃣ Maitland-Niles 5

0️⃣5️⃣ Sokratis 6

2️⃣3️⃣ Luiz 5

1️⃣8️⃣ Monreal 6

3️⃣4️⃣ Xhaka 6

2️⃣9️⃣ Guendouzi 6

2️⃣8️⃣ Willock 6

0️⃣8️⃣ Ceballos 4

1️⃣9️⃣ Pépé 7

1️⃣4️⃣ Aubameyang 6


1️⃣1️⃣ Torreira 8

0️⃣9️⃣ Lacazette 6

0️⃣7️⃣ Mkhitaryan n/a

Tell me your thoughts below and if you don’t understand some of my ratings, ask below and I’ll give some justification.

Alfie Culshaw


  1. At least 3-1 is better than going toe to toe with Liverpool and getting battered 5-0…the only team capable of going toe to toe with them at Anfield currently and winning is Manchester City…

    1. This is probably the best Liverpool team we will ever see, against an arsenal team with lots of stop-gap patches and average players. 3-1 is okay. Let’s see how we will play against the spuds

      1. How is losing 3-1 any different to losing 5-0 ?
        If Liverpool were more clinical with their crosses into the box it could have been 7-8 goals ,their was absolutely no positives to take away from that match , Emery was shown up by Klopp and was made to look stupid no getting away from that ,and the only reason we clawed a goal back was because Liverpool took their foot off the gas .
        All in all it was another embarrassing day of football in a long line of embarrassing days .
        Emery was found out and not for the 1st time either .

        1. Agree that losing 1-3 and 0-5 is still 3 points lost. Only distinction is with goal difference.

          Another 4-5 goals from crosses? That’s a hyperbole. Their fullbacks would have to cross like Beckham and their front three head like Oliver Bierhoff.

          I think Emery was really shown up by Klopp in last year’s visit when he was unprepared for their gegenpressing and transition, more than this time

        2. I wonder why we love to celebrate mediocrity in Arsenal. 3-1 is not different from 5-0. Arsen Wenger never succeeded in his last days bcos of this mindset “always finding explanation for the poor performance of his team. The coach needs to have winning mentality always that’s when we can challenge for the premier league trophy. Winning mentality is what separates Morhinho from other coaches. We. Must get result.

  2. I notced our midfield is too slow and that cost us alot in the Liverpool game. Our best and stable formation in midfield should look like this. Luiz is a better version of Xhaka and quicker with his vision for accurate long passes. Lacazette playing false 9 like Firmino, coming deep to support the midfield and make it stronger as well as make busting forward runs. Replace Niles and Monreal with Bellerin and Tierney when fit.






    1. “Emery was correct with the Arsenal tactics against Liverpool”.
      What game were you watching? A fantasy game. It was the most tactically disappointing game, which was based on Emery’s cowardice. Occasionally there is a ridiculous headline. This is it. How does this get put up? Thankfully a those who watched the game saw the truth. This is bit of false news

      1. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and Alfie watches every game and lives and breaths Arsenal. Maybe he is right, a certain Mr Emery definitely agrees with him!

        1. Thank you Admin for Alfie’s article.

          Before the game, I favored 4-3-3 with Pepe, Auba and Laca in attack. Guen, Willock and Ceballos in midfield.

          Watching the game, I couldn’t come to terms with Emery’s tactics initially, but midway through the first half, it became clear what he was trying to do.

          Emery’s game plan:
          – Avoid Pool’s gegenpressing and transition by bypassing it with direct or long passes.
          – Attack on the break with the speed of Pepe and Auba.
          – Help Pepe and Auba by drawing their fullbacks into advanced positions, so that when we the ball was played to them, they only had VVD and Matip to beat.
          – Limit their fullbacks to crosses from wide areas. without letting them enter our box to create clear-cut chances.

          To a large extent, his game plan worked and the first half was the closest we ever got to getting a result there in recent times. Besides Mane’s shot from Ceballos’ error, I don’t recall them having any clear-cut chances from open play. It’s probably the fewest I have seen in our recent games against them. Unfortunately, if we concede from a corner then give away a needless penalty, tactics won’t matter

  3. I really am gobsmacked with this analysis – Emery had no tactics and he lost the game for us. Pure and simple.

    1. Can you not accept that Liverpool played a part in the result as well? Barcelona got battered 4-0 at Anfield last season, and I think they’re around 2 years unbeaten at home. Liverpool away is the toughest game in Europe for ANY team. Emery had 3 first choice defenders missing through injury. Would Liverpool be as good without their first choice RB, LB, and CB? Our best midfielder Torreira isn’t fully fit either.

      First half, Emery’s tactics were pretty effective. Leno didn’t have a lot to do, and we should have gone in at half-time level at the very least. I agree that Emery didn’t react well at all in the second half though. Maybe he was in shock after Luiz decided to destroy the entire game plan only 2 minutes into the second half. I agree that Laca should have started, and poor to start with 4 central midfielders. Even with Laca though, I don’t see how the result would have changed, although it would have given us a better chance. Liverpool are so strong, especially at home, and are a complete team. Emery is still rebuilding, and is still missing lots of key players.

      Emery had poor day at the office for sure, but remember that Pepe couldn’t finish a one-on-one, and clown Luiz gifted them 2 goals, with defending that Mustafi would be proud of. Not sure how Emery can be blamed for those 3 key incidents.

      1. I won’t look for excuses after putting a line-up on the pitch that he did. If we survived the first 40mins, it not because of any “tactics”; it was sheet providence. His team selection, formation and tactics were all shite, and I have no idea what he is thinking.
        Talking about not having injured players available is akin to “if aunty had.. she’d be uncle”.

        1. So you’ve just said that missing players shouldn’t make any difference to a team. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. So Liverpool would be just as strong without Robertson, Trent and VVD. You cannot honestly believe that?

          1. Viju Jacob, I look forward to your application for the coach position at the end of the season; your CV should be worth reading.

  4. So Emery’s correct tactic was to give the Liverpool fullbacks all the space they liked so they could run us ragged from the flanks? S-M-H.

  5. I agree on what you said but i feel like you forgot to mention that Emery panicked as soon as the first goal is in. He changed the game plan losing patience with another 45 mins at hand, and on top of that he kept on playing three similar midfielders despite him changing his tactics. My Opinion, Emery is a little bit panicky and he should learn to stand by his decisions like his drama with Ozil.

  6. You are spot on Declan.I’m afraid Emery’s tactics played into the hands of Liverpool who depend on their full backs to create width .To be successful against Livepool you must match their set up and work as hard as they do , on and off the ball.Their midfield three are not particularly creative but work their socks off to create space for their talented front three.Only Man City are capable of matching Liverpoo in terms of effort and to my mind they have midfielders who are also more creative and will probably retain their title.As for Arsenal until our injured first pick defenders are match fit we will continue to ship goals and drop points.Three of our current back four are spent forces and we desperately need a ready made defensive midfielder to provide a more balanced base to the team.

  7. Tell me the strength you can get from playing Xhaka,Guendo,Willock and Ceballos at the same time.They can’t gel they can’t win back the ball and they can’t give a fine final ball to the strikers leave alone anyone of them scoring. They will keep kicking the ball around and finally lose it to the opponent which not only limits our attack but also exposes our defence.
    At any given time Emery should use just one of the aforementioned alongside other better players that we have unless when badly depleted by injuries.

  8. hahha,,, david luiz compared to kosceinly was so clear as crystal.
    the patnership of koz and sokratis would have done better.
    ride on the defensive error.
    david luiz good footballer bad defender.( responsible for 2 goals conceded)
    we needed a good defender but we thought we can buy eleven attackers and we will win. we even sold iwobi instead of nelson.

    by the time Auba scores loads of goals but realizes that our defense in not making his input felt, he will start behaving like van persie …
    I leave the footballing coaching to emery let me continue supporting..

  9. I got to disagree with you, anyhow at the same time I would admit it is a big ask for us to get any points from Anfield.

    However I beg to differ that UE got his tactics all wrong. It was a suicide mission thinking we could withstand arguably the best fullbacks in the league to whip in crosses and combine with their trio.

    If you say the choice is related to fitness, then why would Xhaka start while Laca is on the bench.

    I thought we were ok by the end of the 1st half (obviously before the 1st goal ofcourse), but it still does not explain bringing Laca on for the final 10mins. It doesnt make any sense at all.

    On the other hand, it is good to see our young midfield (Willock and Guendouzi) getting toe to toe with Hendo, Wjnaldum and Fabinho.

    Isn’t it obvious, you just have to put work horse in the middle when you have such a deadly attack. I wish UE realise that soon enough.

  10. Erm no tatics was completely wrong and team selection as well this is not the first time and it wont be the last same happened in the EL final wrong tatics then second half completely full apart…

    We shouod of gone 433 false no9 being Lacazette pepe RW PEA LW. This way we would of limited their full backs attacking runs and had a 3 man central midfield to help protect the defence.

    1. exacly i was expecting laca as false 9, torreria to start and willock to come in later. auba not good in tight spaces even when he was up-fieled he was overcrowded and didnt know what to do.

  11. I am not a coach, let alone experienced one. However, I reckon that you should go with your best players in a game of that nature. Laca was voted our best for last season and should lead the line up top. Can go as false 9 when the going is tough. That front 3 of Auba-Laca-Pepe presence alone will say something.

    Also,one thing many people liked about Emery last season didn’t happen at Anfield. I expected the the substitutions for Laca and Torreira to have happened 45 to 60 minutes of the game. So bring in Laca when the game was over was beyond me.

    After all these, can someone please let our coach stick to Auba-Laca-Pepe consistently when fit, just the way Liverpool does. Every other formation should be aimed at playing to the strength of those Deadly Trio. Please, that is.

  12. Emery made some bad choices especially after the 1st goal but leno had pretty much no work for 40 min. my heart tells me we should have got head to head attack to attack with liverpool and maybe luck out a draw or win but my head tells me nope you can’t survive another 2-8 which would have been the likely scenario. Barca got crushed and we are nowhere their level.

  13. I have to agree with the article. Sloppy defending from Luiz cost us a penalty & Mo Salah left him for dust for his 2nd goal. His doing not Emerys.

    We conceded from a corner which tbh we have been alot better defending from so we have to be real and just admit the big man got up highest with great powerful header and Anfield is imo the hardest ground to go to in Europe atm… just ask Messi & Co.

    It’s one game, on to the next now… Spurs! This is a must not lose game & Spurs will be wanting a win after what happened yesterday v Newcastle.

    Everyone needs to calm down & be patient. How would any club do without their starting RB, CB, LB & DM against the European Champions?
    Yes I’m talking about Bellerin, Holding, Teirney & Torriera.

    Only 2 mistakes Emery made was not getting Laca on the pitch at the start of the 2nd half or even better having him start & having Xhaka starting in the team on an away day.

    1. The Penalty came about because Trent Arnold was given so much space down the right and had all time in the world to put the ball into salah leaving Luiz the predicament of either leaving him to go through or try and stoppping him .
      Second yes he jumped in but you he would have thought that someone was and should have been covering ,for me I would have him start over Sok all day nausea that dude is a walking red card .

      1. Playing Sokratis and Luiz together is a disaster waiting to happen, and I think either of them partnering Chambers would have been a better option.
        This playing out from the back nonsense brings on so much pressure on our defence and it needs to stop, because there is no build-up happening with this tactic.

  14. Arsenal fail to beat Liverpool = best team in the world.
    Liverpool were at home and at full strength.
    We had 4 key players out and playing away.
    Arsenal sit 3rd after 3 games.
    Time to moan, give up and demand coach sacked 🙂 :):)

  15. Yes agreed they are the CL champions but to build a team of winners is to not install negative tatics let alone playing players out of posistion.

    That does our mentality no good either however we should set up to try and win every game and learn to defend as a team and a unit.

    Emery is not the man for Arsenal and I wasn’t over the moon the day he took charge.
    I’ve had a number of discussions on this the questioned ask then who ? I think and always answer a Arsenal man is best Patrick V or even Freedie F Id even take.

    Emery is a yes man and has not learned lessons of last season this will happen again.
    Play to your teams strength and stop tinkering

    Food for thought fellow gooners ?

    1. If he went there with an expansive game plan we would have been 4-0 down in the first 10 minutes. His tactic for the major part of the first half limited pool and we had the better chances. The only mistake he made was taking too much time to make the subs.

  16. I really hate the way Emery speaks. I just cant listen to him, its complete gibberish. He never says anything worthwhile, and keeps repeating the same shit. You dont know if we won 5:0 or lost 0:5. Zero honesty.

    1. Emery is trying to learn English as a foreign language. He speaks Spanish, Basque and French. Unlike Ponchettino he hasn’t hidden in his early years in England by using an interpreter. Just out of interest Jagr10, how many languages do you speak fluently?

  17. If you say lacazette was not fit enough, what reason does he(Emery) have in including Xhaka who only pass match fitness test on Friday. At least laca came off the bench on our last home game

  18. I agree with the perspective Alfies article shows and of how he highlights the sheer standard of Liverpool esp at home, which is way overlooked or given NO prominence by the many silly comments on here. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT SOME PEOPLE TRULY EXPECTED. I PREDICTED A 3-1 DEFEAT AND PUT MONEY ON IT. BUT THEN I AM ALWAYS A REALIST AND NEVER A SELF FOOLER. Anyone who honestly expected us to win there needs their head examined. The top two teams are out of sight from ALL the rest. It is foolish to ignore that fact, so please, some proper PERSPECTIVE before writing nonsense!

  19. Emery is a very big disappointment to arsenal
    Emery should stop gambling with our emotions
    Emery can’t use a steady formation even last season same thing, I think our coach is mentally unstable

  20. Even Klopp himself got surprised by Emery’s stupidity…

    After the game he said… ” I didn’t expect Arsenal to play a diamond giving our fullbacks all the space in the world”.

    As I told you earlier, Brendan Rodgers was the perfect choice among the rest. Just look at how Leicester went to Chelsea last week without fear and almost won the match.

    Arsenal problems are two (2):
    1. Cowardice Coach tactics for a big team like Arsenal.
    2. Player defending off the ball: I think this is the worst in the EPL. I could see Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock practically “jogging around” when they did not have the ball; even Newcastle was fighting tooth and nail.

    Nobody should deceive you that Liverpool players are better than Arsenal players; if we solved those two above issues we would be at par with them.

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