Demolition at Anfield: Wenger Gets it all Wrong
Liverpool's demolishing of Arsenal at Anfield was severely troubling.
Arsenal face a tremendous uphill-fixture battle in February and this was the worst possible start, conceding four goals in the opening 19 minutes, to a rampant Liverpool side that attacked with pace and precision in Brandon Rodger's free flowing 4-3-3.
Wenger got it all wrong as he chose to partner recently fit-again Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta as anchoring midfielders, a position Wilshere is not suited for. His defending when players are running at him with the ball leaves a lot to be desired.
His strength is attacking and creating and missing Mathieu Flamini to suspension proved critical in this match. It must be said that Jack Wilshere is at a crucial juncture in his career.
I think there's little doubt he is on the plane to Brazil. He is clearly one of England's brightest talents - but he also finds himself playing the role of Arsenal's, and indeed the Three Lion's, Mario Balotelli. His temper is cause for alarm as well as his off field behaviour. The parallels exist, not least in the fact that both of these promising players have unquestionable talent.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin had been scintillating in a central role verse Crystal Palace (a role Wenger said, where he could emulate Steven Gerrard). He was not able to make the same impact on the match from wide on the right flank.
Ox was the on-song player going into this match and he should have been allowed the chance to boss the center of the park. Credit to the youngster for winning a penalty we can only wonder what his energy and enthusiasm would have brought through the middle.
Wenger clearly does not fancy Lukas Podolski - if he did he could have had the German and Santi Cazorla provide the width; a choice I would have liked to have seen today.
Now I had Martin Skrtel on the mind before the match kicked off. I mentioned that his physical presence would impact Giroud, but it was his physical presence on set pieces that made the difference.
Although he was a bit lucky to bundle home Gerrard's free kick after Per Mertesacker had been beaten for pace by Luis Suarez, it was his superb header that really stood out as the goal of the match; an angled header that he got to first in front of Laurent Koscielny and directed into the top shelf.
Perhaps most concerning for Arsenal is that Mesut Ozil again had a dismal performance. It's fair to say that his casual play on the ball gave away possession nearly every time he touched it.
Most notably when he attempted a Cryuff turn in the middle third of the park, hit the ball off his plant leg, lost possession, and begged for a non-existent foul, amounting directly to another Liverpool goal. I worry that a dynamic may develop with Ozil. If he is not playing well, as he clearly hasn't been for the past two odd months and when others players become eligible and fit, Wenger will be faced with the dilemma of benching the record signing.
Ozil doesn't take kindly to being substituted nevermind being unused. Keep an eye on this.
The one bright spot of the match for Arsenal was the play of Wojciech Szczesny. He has really developed into a good Premier League keeper. He made some big saves and did enough to prevent a number of goals saving even more embarrassment: notably denying Jon Flanagan, Daniel Sturridge and Suarez on several occasions.
The unbeaten record of Mertesacker and Koscielny has ended. Wenger and Arsenal got it all wrong at Anfield. They can thank their lucky stars that Man City has unbelievably stumbled again away from home by drawing at Norwich.
Eden Hazard and Chelsea lead the Barclay's Premier league.
It is time for Arsenal to regroup, recharge, and enjoy some home cooking as they return to the Emirates to welcome Manchester United on Wednesday - and get a chance at redemption in the FA Cup when Liverpool visit on Sunday.