Three Big Problems Arsenal fans learnt from the defeat at Liverpool

3 BIG TACTICAL POINTS LEARNED (Arsenal vs Liverpool) by Alfie Culshaw

We saw it last season, we’re likely to see it again. Emery favours a cautious approach in (largely big) away games, looking to absorb pressure for large periods and hit the opposing side on the counter. The addition of the pacy Pepe is only likely to enhance this game plan, as well as greater flexibility and options in midfield, and (in theory) a strengthened defence.

Many do not like this tactical set-up, favouring the inflexible and stubborn, but often illustrious and artistic approach we saw under Arsene Wenger. However, this approach ultimately symbolised Wenger’s downfall and as shown in the first period at Anfield, where we more than matched Liverpool in quality of chances, maybe this caution is the way forward.

At Anfield on Saturday, we again saw a passiveness about our defending, particularly in wide areas. Whilst this was a product mainly of our narrow formation and game plan, it did feel we still too easily enabled Liverpool to get crosses away, a very risky strategy to follow against a team with such excellent crosses of the ball. This issue would maybe not have been brought up, had it been in isolation. The reality is, we saw this passiveness for long periods last season and against Burnley last week.

Maybe Emery favours not pressing wingers and full-backs to prevent them from delivering as he feels we have the aerial presence to deal with these balls in, but, personally I feel this is an issue needing addressing.

Whilst I completely understand Emery starting Ceballos after his masterclass at the Emirates last week, it did not exactly work out at Anfield. The midfielder was left shell-shocked at the lack of time he had on the ball and the intensity of Klopp’s gegenpressing. Not used to this sort of pace and intensity in the pedestrian La Liga, it will take time for the Spanish maestro to adapt to playing teams as dynamic as Liverpool (albeit there aren’t that many). He lost the ball more times than any other Arsenal player, completed fewer passes than any other Arsenal player and was ultimately the first to be axed from the pitch by Unai Emery; it just wasn’t Ceballos’ night.

Anything else you saw? Tell me below….

Alfie Culshaw


  1. Good points Alfie-another to consider is why our best player was left on the bench.Yet another time of this Manager refusing to put his best eleven out on the pitch because he felt his own tactical knowledge was more preferable.It wasn’t.And he just refuses to learn from his own mistakes.

    1. Phil, I know emery has made mistakes and we still make mistakes but every manager make mistakes, we should judge him at the end of the season. If am going to be honest with you Phil,what we missed against Liverpool was a left winger not lacazette, see the way Pepe frustrated van dyke and Robertson, if we had a left winger in that match it will be a different result. Am not really an emery fan but I think he’s still doing good with this defense, lets wait till holding bellerin tierny are fit and then judge him then.

  2. Emery’s “cautious approach” should have definitely got us 9pts away at Utd, Chelsea and Spurs last season if it wasn’t for his players letting him down. Instead we ended with just 2pts.

    Against Chelsea we missed so many easy chances, and Laca cost us their winning goal. Chelsea had many chances as well, so at worst it should have been a score draw.

    At United, we absolutely bossed them on their own turf. But Kola switched off right from kickoff, and Auba, and Miki missed absolute sitters.

    At Spurs, we again we were the better team, with not a whole load of chances. Then Mustafi did what he does best, and they get a stupid pen, and Auba misses a pen right at the end.

    I am not saying Emery is blameless, as it’s a team sport, but I am a bit sick of the constant questioning of his tactics, when it’s the players that have been making so many mistakes at key moments. Emery deserves criticism when it’s due, just as the players should do, but he is not clueless at all. We improved last season, and we’ll improve even more this season with the signings, and hopefully no insane injury list again.

    I also don’t know why some fans are so hung up on Emery’s tactics/decisions against Liverpool, when it wouldn’t have mattered what he had done, because Liverpool are that good. Do fans honestly believe there was a special tactic that would have nullified Liverpool? Yes Emery could have picked a slightly stronger lineup, but we’re talking about an amazing team that can batter the likes of Barcelona 4-0. Our result, and performance was better than Barcelona’s, and with a much weaker team. So I guess Barcelona must be a worse team than Arsenal then!

    1. So when wenger was manager was it his fault or the players letting him down ?
      Simple question (no trolling as you like to keep saying because you lose an argument)

      1. Oh boy…Dan be careful what questions you ask and statement you make, because you risk being called a fool by some of our ancestors as supporters

      2. Dan, Wenger wouldn’t even buy/play Guendouzi, Torreira, and Pepe (he dislikes DMs and natural wingers).
        He would field his usual (Ozil-Xhaka-Miki), most likely hammered 8-2, blame cohesion/ref/team spirit yada yada, go home, eat his Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée (onion soup), sleep and repeat.

    2. Third man going by your Logic, we shouldn’t ask questions when necessary and we shouldn’t demand reasons for situations like the Liverpool game all because Barcelona lost to them right?

      It’s okay to let go of everything that went wrong from, they tactics, selections and players mistake right?
      All because even Almighty Barcelona lost to them?
      SMH, you also say our performance was better than Barcelona’s, need I remind you Southampton’s performance was even much better than ours ?
      So what now? is Soton the better team?
      Are Liverpool supposed to be unbeatable?
      Though that game is gone, I’m looking forward to our future games.
      I just think we should stop trying to justify losing certain games, tell you today, those games Spurs played in the past UCL competitions, against Juventus,Madrid,Barcelona and got points, If we were to play those teams, over half of y’all will give up already before the game, and over half of y’all will find reasons as to why we couldn’t have won those games instead finding reasons as to why we could’ve won those games.
      That’s the point, y’all keep naming excuses and reasons why we couldn’t have won at An field, that’s the depressing thing, instead of looking at why we could’ve won and how we could’ve done better, and work towards it

      1. Eddie to be fair we could have just as easily won that match against Lpool….. If Pepe and Auba had been more clinical in the first half the whole game would have been different…. and that’s with us playing the defensive game so many seem to hate and with some odd choices in players ?‍♂️

      2. @Eddie

        What I have been consistently saying is that Emery does make mistakes, and it is right to criticise him, but the players need heavy criticism as well, and that the reaction to a loss against arguably the best team in Europe over the last 2 seasons, with under strength team, that is also a million miles off Liverpool in terms of quality, was well over the top. If it was against a weak team, or even Utd, or Chelsea, I could understand it, but not against the likes of Liverpool or City. One could also argue that we have gained ground on Liverpool, considering that last season we got battered 5-1, whilst this season it was more of a competitive 3-1 defeat, where Luiz gave them 2 of their 3 goals.

        I used Barcelona as an example, just as I could Bayern, City, Utd, etc all losing up there. Do you not get it, that Liverpool are light years ahead of us?

        As I keep saying, which you clearly haven’t seen, is that I felt even pre match that Emery had screwed us. Unlike Wenger fan boys, I can actually see some of the problems with Emery, and I am happy to openly talk about them. For example, he changes the lineup far too often which I don’t like. I am happy to see rotation in Europe, but I want PAL starting EVERY league game from now on! Whereas I am happy to criticise Emery, Wenger fan boys would not accept ANY criticism of Wenger. Nothing was ever his fault!

        1. Well said ThirdManJW. Even the first goal was from a set piece, we actually nullified their open-play threats in the first half by playing narrow. It’s the players who need criticism, for some time they fall apart too easily. They tend to concede successive goals and make it very hard to come back.

      3. I’m in agreement! This Wengerism – the business of losing games and claiming all the time that there are positives to take must end. We must dream big and believe we can take on anybody. Otherwise Emery’s postmatch conference was reminiscent of Arsene Wenger’s rhetoric- always defending poor performance!!

    3. Oh boy…Dan be careful what questions you ask and statement you make, because you risk being called a fool by some of our ancestors as supporters

    4. TMJW-you might well be a bit sick of the blame being put on Emery but to me he is the one that is culpable.He picks the team.He sets them up.He decides on the tactics.So while I accept the players are not blameless and guilty of mistakes that cost us points (eg-Aubamayang and the f*** up penalty at Wembley against the Spuds ) the ultimate responsibility rests on Emery.
      I have very big issues with both the team he put out at Anfield and the way he set the players up for the game.No natural width in midfield against a team whose two fullbacks are always a major threat.That was an inexcusable error from a manager who seems never to learn.We could all see it but he was either too muddled in his own thinking or not competent enough to be aware of the threat that would come.Eithervway it is Emery who must accept the blame.
      Too many results like that,especially against the other Top 6 sides and he will go before the season ends.If he loses uscthis game on Sunday then I can assure you he will be called out as responsible.This is a MUST WIN GAMS.He needs to realise quickly that this fan base will not accept mediocrity.And let’s face it – our previous two wins against Newcastle and Burnley were both mediocre at best.The fact we got Six points was the saviour for him.But we will have tougher games than those two and its these games he got found out in last year.

      1. But as I pointed out, we should have beaten Spurs, Utd, and Chelsea away last season, if it wasn’t for the players. I agree that Emery doesn’t seem to learn from some of his mistakes, but I would also point out, look at what he’s been working with, look at the injuries. He’s been changing it around a lot to try and find solutions. Hopefully he won’t change too much this, but then again that depends on injuries and form. Wenger would never change anything, and Emery changes too much. Ideally, we need something in between in my opinion.

    5. We know certain players are error prone, why set up your team to keep on constant pressure. That is the issue. When we keep defending with players that are not very good what do you expect. The more pressure these guys are on,the likelihood of them committing errors/blunders.

      1. Yes but how do you stop a team as good as Liverpool from putting constant pressure on then? Let’s not forget that in that first half, Leno had almost nothing to do, and we should have been at least level at half time.

        1. That’s part of football. Sometimes your game plan doesn’t go as you expect. The problem with all these games we lose is that Arsenal almost immediately collapse after conceding even once. It always seems to be 10-15 minutes after conceding once, we concede again and then the game is just over. We cant have players that throw in the towel once things dont go as expected. And this seems like a problem Emery has to make right, and the players need to do better at.

  3. Auba____laca_____pepe

    Is great to have but auba
    Will give us more goals
    Playing from the middle
    Even Wenger couldn’t play
    Both, am not saying we
    Shouldn’t play both but
    Both are still c.f. and
    There best GAMES comes in
    The middle it’s not like
    Last season when we have
    No wingers I will still
    Prefer to see pepe, martineli
    And either of laca or auba
    Against lesser opponents to
    See how martineli and Nelson
    Develops because it’s another
    Area of concern left wing

    1. It isn’t about Auba scoring more goals, it is about the set that would give arsenal more wins irrespective of who scores..
      And for now
      Auba laca Pepe is our best set up.
      The coach should start playing them already because sometimes it takes awhile for players to bond on the pitch

  4. I don’t think you are being fair with some of the things you said @the poster, we should start judging Emery when tierny and bellerin come back, I strongly believe if we have both in the Liverpool match the likes of Robertson and Arnold won’t come forward too much, now I see why gotanidea always talk about left winger, their are some matches you need both your wingers and unfortunately Nelson is not the answer but I believe with the arrival of tierny and bellerin that will change. And you saying Ceballos is not made for this type of match is in my opinion wrong, we clearly see the boy has talent its now left to the coach to utilized him very well, Ceballos is the best midfielder we’ve had since Cazola, please I understand everyone frustration but we lost against Liverpool away not like we lost against Leicester or Everton, the spurs lost against Newcastle at home man utd lost against palace so please let’s calm down a little and support the coach and the team.

    1. One bottle for you

      I read countless negativity since
      The Liverpool game, so much negativity
      That I have to defend Emery even when
      I don’t want to. It’s just how far the
      Negativity got to my nerves, I wonder
      How toxic spurs and united blog’s will
      be after losing at home to lesser teams

    2. Leno, will Bellerin and Teirneny suddenly improve our zonal marking or eliminate our defenders ball watching and shadows marking. Our defensive problems is majorly caused by the system we employed first and personnel second. This shows in how a single pass will be all defensive players or many of them are constantly caught out positions. Let the defense concentrate of on defending first with support from midfielders to both attacks and defense. Finally, irrespective of the formation or tactics our approach you be based on looking for goals like Mancity and dump playing from the back crap

      1. If you see playing out from the back as crap Emery and few others like me doesn’t see it that way. HEY I enjoy it that my gk hardly kick out the ball out when playing with my PlayStation

  5. The most important thing we learned from the Liverpool match is the fact that Luiz will not improve the Arsenal defence.

  6. Your second point Alfie regarding the narrow formation at Liverpool..
    How can a supposedly seasoned manager set up the team to be constantly attacked by their wing backs ,two of the best wing backs in the league if not the best .
    The interview with Klopp only highlighted just how wrong Emery set the team up . Klopp actually smirked when the question was asked to him about our formation .
    To go to anfield and play defensively but still fck that up shows how limited Emery is as a manager ,we saw it last season and we will see it again this season .
    My betting is by Xmas fans will be glad when the seasons over .

    1. Very very bad set esp now that we can actually boast about having one of the best front three in the league.

    2. Dan, that’s my point, how long does a manager need to have a system in place? One more season and then take stock? What’s his contract tenure? Two or three years?
      Why do people keep giving excuses on his behalf when he himself doesn’t know what he is doing?
      With the team that we have, Eddie Howe would have done much better and with a front three that we have, not counting the midfield talent, there was no reason why we didn’t go on the offensive with Liverpool? Instead we played like a bunch of schoolboys just scurrying around. Even the “Hail Mary” biff upfront didn’t happen, except on a couple of occasions – if that was the strategy, then Leno should be launching kicks long instead of playing out from the back. Playing out from the back itself is a joke as far as our team is concerned, so is the high pressing. If a failed “Arsenal way” of playing got us into Top 4 for 20 years, let’s just stick to it, instead of buying players and have them play a medley of systems.
      I expected a lot when Emery joined, but from the 6th game of last season I realised he wasn’t the steadying hand we need. Tinkerman be damned.

      1. Viju, as I have pointed out countless times, Unai Emery has a two year contract with Arsenal holding the option to extend into the third year provided management/Board/owners are satisfied with performance.
        I have been unable to ascertain what the performance criteria are.

  7. This a risky tactics against highly effective teams with quick and aggressive players. Arsenal does not have world class defenders to effectively carry out this sort of style. I wonder why it took Emery a while to make some midfield changes when it was obvious his players are tiring due to Liverpool aggressive pressing game plan. I would prefer Chambers in the place of Mainladniles.

  8. Ceballos? Three games in an arsenal shirt, three passes given away in or around the arsenal box. The same reason we jump at Xhaka .at Liverpool? Passed the ball to pool right in the box. All these were errors leading to shots on our goal. On the contrary, Granit had 15 ball recoveries and wasn’t beaten on the dribble once against Liverpool, and somehow some fans will ask you why all coaches find him good the same question Liverpool fans ask about Henderson coaches always have their favourite son thou some are not noticed if the players are very good but when it’s not a fan favourite player questions are asked. Xhaka was far better than cebellos against Liverpool but somehow it’s xhaka’s fault even when he didn’t put a foot wrong.

  9. Emery got his tactics wrong against Liverpool but how can he legislate for the errors of judgement made by Luiz ?.The simple answer is he cannot but he can react with justification by leaving him out against Spurs which is what a “strong” Manager would do.

    1. Grandad, if Arsenal players, who made mistakes under the last year’s of Wenger tenure and currently under Emery, were dropped for the next game, Arsenal would field a different team every match. ?

  10. Ceballos’s style of is quite dangerous. He is a type of player who likes to hang on the ball, trying to wriggle his way out of obstacles. He prefers waiting to give the perfect pass and not just to push the ball away because of pressure. It’s good to always want to give that perfect incisive pass but you have to be smart about what areas of the pitch to do that. He should be cautioned about sticking to that ideals when close to the penalty box.

  11. The sure banker that doesn’t fail will make Emery to start the much Gooners despised Granit Xhaka the Gunners captain in the Arsenal match at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday in the PL. But whether he’ll start Ozil and Kolasinac in the match is what I cannot say for sure. But he could start Kolasinac if Monreal becomes on the verge of leaving Arsenal on transfer on or before the European summer transfer deadline day. But if he starts Kolasinac, the possibility of seeing the Arsenal killer strike force of PLA starting together could become narrowed. Except Emery set up the Gunners again in a 442 diamond head playing formation which led to the Gunners creating numerous goals scoring chances at Liverpool but they fluffed their lines to condemned Arsenal to scoring a solitary consolation goal in the match to Liverpool’s 3 goals. Gosh! But if Emery makes the Gunners to play a back-three defence in the match playing 3 CBs of Chambers, Luiz & Sokratis. Then AMN and Kolasinac will be wing-backs attacking and tracking back to cover. And the mid-tridient could be Ozil, Xhaka Torreria. Are these a new combinations? Hmmm. It’ll work fine if Emery does become emboldened to try them. The 2 pairing strikers could be Auba and Laca’ with Pepe coming of the bench to this time to play. But if PLA will start at the same time, then Emery will have to adopt the 443 set up for the Gunners to set in array for the match. Which could see the improving Chambers starting from the bench again.

  12. Ceballos is a very good player,we shouldn’t be knocking him yet, he is young but is not scared to want the ball and try to do something different when he has it, in that one game at the emirates he played better than Mikhi, Xhaka,Elneny and ozil did all last season, he looks comfortable on the ball and will get better with games,lets give the lad a chance.

  13. Arsenal fans Eh? 3 games in and you are already finding things to complain about. Let’s start with the tinkering and not knowing his starting lineup. Taking into consideration fitness and tactical issues, I can name 8 out of 11 from his starting lineup without stopping to think. After watching Emery for about 6 years, I actually even know who he’d pick with everyone fit. When arsene kept playing the same players same tactics every game, we called him rigid. We get a coach who is willing to modify his tactics to the opponent we call him clueless. What do you want?
    Unai Emery, Arsene Wenger, The Mo’gladbach Coach, FC Basel and the Swiss national team all think Granit is a starter and they’ve almost all had him as captain. Am I going to act like I know better than them? No.
    Finally, please name any coach who has been more successful than Emery in the last 6 years. I’ll wait.
    3 games in, one loss to the current best team in Europe and people are screaming.
    Before you blame Emery for not attacking Liverpool, by the end of the first half, which team provided more goal threat. Pool or Arsenal? I might blame him for not reacting fast enough in the second half, but I’ve seen him win too many tactical battles in his career to use one result as a measurement

    1. It’s 41 EPL games alone under this badger, and that is a long time in these days of two year contracts.

    2. @joe you have seen him too many tactical games? How many games has he won away from home since joining arsenal? I see a manager comfortable at home and clueless away from home can you name one single game that he got the tactics right away from home!!?

  14. Emery please use Luiz as a DM


    Aub Pepe


    Willock David Luiz

    Nacho/Kolasinac Socratis Cal Chambers Niles


  15. When we beat Newc away some people were well it’s Newc a better team would’ve yada yada. Newc then go and beat Spu our next opponents. The game against Liv, it was one of those that a goal turns it on its head. If we had of just made it to half time, never mind the goals we could’ve scored, just kept our clean-sheet I think Liv would resort to diving because I could see them running out of ideas pretty quickly while that counter attack was still a big threat, that is when Emery wanted to introduce Lacazette and Torriera. At-least these two should be itching now to get at Spu, full tank of gas, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two players as two from the group of best players on the day.

  16. Emery tried something and failed and i am not knocking him for the failure, however there are some points that i have to make

    – Liverpool are beatable
    – Physically fitter than arsenal players
    – We tried playing defensively with an attacking 11
    – Ceballos got a taste of high intensity
    – Defenders being overworked will at some point make Errors
    – Allowing liverpool RB and FB freedom was our greatest sin

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