Liverpool 5 – 1 Arsenal: Player Ratings and Talking Points

Reds Sign off the Year in Style

What a year 2018 has been! This side have started building something special, and a 5-1 victory over Arsenal at Anfield was the perfect way to bring the curtain down on a spectacular calendar year.

The dream day got off to a nightmare start when Ainsley Maitland-Niles tucked home a Liverpool-like goal that came against the run of play, but these Reds are different to the teams of the past, these lads relish clearing hurdles. Within minutes, we were not only back in the game but practically had it all wrapped up.

Firmino was gifted an equaliser before he scored a cracking goal by sitting down Arsenal’s defence and embarrassing the goalkeeper. Mane finished off a brilliant team move for the third and Salah smashed a penalty home before halftime to put the game to bed. Liverpool then went into cruise control before we were given another, albeit soft, penalty, and Bobby slotted it home for a hattrick in front of the Kop.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League : News Photo

Player Ratings

Alisson – 8.5

After the first goal went in, which he couldn’t have done anything about, Alisson had very little to do with his gloves. His only notable save was a brilliant one to deny Shkodran Mustafi, even though it ended up being called back for offside anyway.

The Brazilian took it upon himself to get involved though, even if Arsenal weren’t going to do it. He set up the fourth goal by releasing the ball quickly and precisely to Bobby out wide on the halfway line. Bobby then played Salah through who was fouled twice for the penalty.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7

Trent probably struggled more than any Liverpool player on the pitch at times, although even he wasn’t exactly poor, he just didn’t cope as well as he usually does with being targeted.

It has to be said that Alex Iwobi had a good game and was causing TAA some serious problems. A better winger with a bit of end product could’ve taken advantage of the situation. Perhaps Trent’s still shaking off some rust after his injury.

Dejan Lovren – 8

Lovren’s never going to win some people over, is he? Granted, he made a mistake by giving the ball away cheaply for Arsenal’s goal, but his teammates hardly covered themselves in glory while trying to snuff out that gifted chance, and moreover, from that moment onwards, Lovren was excellent.

I can’t explain what other people saw, but Aubameyang couldn’t get a sniff, Aaron Ramsay wasn’t allowed space in and around the box, and Alexandre Lacazette had nothing to feed off of once he came on. Lovren played a significant role in that, not to mention he won the second penalty, even though it was exceedingly soft.

Virgil van Dijk – 8.5

It’s hard to rate VVD sometimes because often his best performances come when he has very little to do. He makes those around him better, his organisational skills are impeccable, and instead of flying in with last-ditch tackles to deny a goal, he coolly shepherds the striker away before a chance has been created.

He was also the first man to turn to his players after the opening goal, and instead of scolding them, he appeared to encourage and urge them to focus. The team’s reaction was telling. What a leader.

Andy Robertson – 8

Some have attributed a portion of the blame for Arsenal’s goal to Robbo because he was out of position. He was only out of position because the ball was given away, had the ball been retained then he was in acres of space to launch an attack. Although to be fair, like TAA with Iwobi, Robbo was beaten a couple of times by Maitland-Niles.

Other than that though, Robbo was great and the highlight of his night was a sumptuous diagonal ball to Salah who then knocked it across the goal to Mane at the back post. Special mention has to go to Robbo for keeping his head screwed on after being booked very early into the match.


Fabinho – 7

After a run of good form, Fabinho struggled at times against Arsenal and gave the ball away extremely carelessly a couple of times. If that were Manchester City, he would’ve been punished and could’ve cost the team the game.

In fairness to the lad, he slowly recovered from these mistakes and his passing greatly improved. He also did a great job of driving the team forward from midfield. Hopefully he can develop his mental toughness further over the next few weeks and months so that when he inevitably makes a mistake, he can bounce back from it sooner.

Gini Wijnaldum – 9.5

What a game from Gini, he’s such a classy player. If Bobby hadn’t of gotten a hattrick, then Gini surely would’ve scooped the award. In any case, the Dutchman was brilliant again in the double pivot role alongside Fabinho.

He never put a foot wrong with or without the ball. He tackled and intercepted well, controlled the middle of the park, pinged passes around, and as ever, was virtually impossible to tackle. The fact that Klopp pulled him off early shows that the manager wants him to put in a similar performance against City next week.

Bobby Firmino – 10 (Man of the Match)

He’s back! Finally! Bobby’s first goal came from nowhere, but he scored it with another no-look finish. He can take full credit for his second though as he broke a few ankles with his twists, turns, and fake shots. Some have pointed out that Arsenal’s defence isn’t brilliant, but to do what Bobby did to any Premier League player, regardless of form, is truly special.

Let’s not forget his pass that put Salah through for the penalty just before halftime either. He later took his own penalty well for a deserved and overdue hattrick, we just have to hope now that this is a weight off of his shoulders and that he’ll be able to use this confidence to really kick on for the second half of the season.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League : News Photo

Sadio Mane – 8.5

Like Bobby, Mane bounced back from some up and down form with an outstanding performance. Firmino has him to thank for winning the ball off of Lucas Torriera before his second. Mane’s efforts were rewarded in turn by Salah who gifted the winger only his second goal in the last 11 matches.

He looked really disappointed to be hooked off by Klopp so soon, but he’ll understand the importance of staying fresh and carrying the form of this game into the next against City.

Xherdan Shaqiri – 8

Shaq was bright all game and can consider himself unlucky after not registering an assist or two despite playing his teammates in with a few inch-perfect passes.

He wasn’t as involved in the attack as some of his other colleagues, but this can be partially attributed to him taking on more responsibilities in defence, and when he was involved, you certainly noticed his contributions.

Mo Salah – 9

One aspect of Salah’s game that’s flown under the radar is how much his pressing has improved this season. He was utterly relentless, particularly during the first half, and his pressure absolutely factored into the comedy of errors that led to our first goal.

His assist for Mane was unbelievable, what a touch! If KDB or Messi had done that then you’d never see or hear the end of it, to give the ball so cleanly and accurately to Mane off the volley is phenomenal, make no mistake about it.



Jordan Henderson – (on for Mane – 62′) 7.5

Hendo came on to help control the game as Arsenal were threatening to show a bit of fight, and he did just that. I’d be surprised if Klopp doesn’t start him against City as Hendo, Gini, and Milner appear to be his most trusted midfielders, hence why they started against Napoli.

Adam Lallana – (on for Wijnaldum – 77′) – N/A

Lallana technically had enough time to make an impact, but Liverpool had dropped back to first gear ages before he came on, so aside from the odd counter-attack, it was virtually a 13 minute light training session for him.

Nathaniel Clyne – (on for Robertson – 83′) N/A

Not enough time to make an impact, however, Clyne did nearly give a penalty away. He didn’t do terribly in his short spell, but he’s clearly not comfortable on the left with or without the ball, and understandably so.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Naby Keita, Divock Origi, and Daniel Sturridge.


Jurgen Klopp – 10

I have to give Klopp a perfect score for this game as he got every decision right, was spot on with his substitutions, and more importantly, he appears to have not only instilled a winning mentality into the side, but also a certain sense of calmness.

I was surprised to see Robbo last as long as he did given that he was sitting on a yellow for quite some time and losing him to suspension against City would’ve been a disaster. However, Klopp showed trust in his player to do his job carefully, and the Scotsman justified that.

Much was made of Unai Emery supposedly ‘outsmarting’ Klopp after the final against Sevilla and the game at the Emirates this season, so the German will probably be pleased to have shut that conversation right up. It’s been talked about to death, but Klopp appears to have found the perfect balance between attack and defence with this Liverpool side, yet many of the players are still not at their absolute best.

Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League : News Photo

Talking Points

Confident Kopites

When Arsenal went 1-0 up, of course I was feeling nervous, I always do. Although there was never a sense of ‘here we go again’ as in previous years, it was just that I thought we had a fight on our hands. We didn’t. 5 minutes later we were in the lead, and before the halftime whistle had even blown the game was over.

This is not just a side of flat track bullies who can only do it when it’s easy, this Liverpool team is strong in their ability, but more importantly, their mentality, and it’s that which will hopefully get us over the line by the end of the season.

Virgil van Dijk summed this up after the match when he said, “It was unlucky we conceded, but we reacted how we should have reacted, and deserved it today. We still need to improve a lot of things, but we’re very happy with the situation at the moment. We’re in a good way, we feel good, it’s tough these days but now it’s a great time to be a Liverpool player.”

Showdown at the Etihad

Our next match will be our greatest test so far. Manchester City away. If City win, then Liverpool’s lead will look a whole lot less impressive, but if the Reds can get a draw or a win though, then the belief will really start to take hold of the players and fans.

In that sense, there’s a lot of pressure on Liverpool going into the game despite having a healthy lead over the defending champions on the table. However, City themselves are now dealing with a different kind of pressure, a pressure they’ve never dealt with before. Last season they walked the League, and might’ve done the same in the Champions League if they didn’t run into Liverpool, but now, they’re up against it.

They’ve lost three of their last four, their stars are dealing with poor form and injury concerns, and most worryingly for them, they find themselves chasing the title instead of running away with it. It’s easy to always be the hammer, but sometimes you don’t know who a team truly are until they’ve been the nail. City’s response will be telling in terms of how the title race goes.

2018 Behind Us

How long’s it been since we fans can look back on a whole year of football and almost exclusively feel immense pride, satisfaction, and hope for our team?

The only real disappointment aside from the odd game towards the end of last season was the devastating loss in Kyiv. Most fans took great memories from that run though and the pain of losing was quickly replaced with pride in the lads and manager, as well as high hopes for the next season, and what a season it’s been so far!

Having said that, we can keep all of these moments as happy memories once the season’s done and finished the way we want it to. For now though, it’s time to let them go and focus on what happens between now and May. We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so far to go.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 30/12/2018

Liverpool vs Arsenal – Premier League Preview

Final Game of 2018

Liverpool take on Unai Emery’s Newcastle at Anfield in our final game of what’s been a wonderful 2018.

Ordinarily, Arsenal, even at Anfield, is far from a guaranteed result and the Gunners have always had the quality to hurt us. But in the context of how well our season’s going, then nothing other than a win in this match can be accepted.

Having said that, Liverpool still can’t afford to approach the game lightly, as Arsenal will feel like they could’ve won the first game earlier in the season and will be looking to rectify that.

Liverpool Predicted Lineup and Team News


Milner will be unavailable for Arsenal, as will the long-term injured players, though Alberto Moreno has trained pain-free and is back in contention.

Hendo and Gini could be joined by Fabinho in the central midfield three, though Keita and – perhaps less likely – Lallana are options in the engine room. Shaqiri would be unfortunate to miss out after his performance on Boxing Day but would seem the likely fall guy if Klopp ditches the 4-2-3-1.

Salah, Mane, and Firmino have started in all of the meetings against the “big six” sides this season. The back four are set to remain unchanged given the magnitude of the fixture, though Clyne and Moreno are fresh legs in the fullback positions if needed.

Arsenal Predicted Lineup and Team News

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Emery reported on Thursday that Shkodran Mustafi  had trained alone with “good feeling” and was close to joining the rest of the squad ahead of the Liverpool match, though Laurent Koscielny is the latest injury doubt at centre-back after picking up a knock in the draw with Brighton.

No update was given on Nacho Monreal (muscle), who also remains a concern for the trip to Anfield. Emery may play all three of Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi in central midfield to give his backline extra protection for this daunting fixture, while Mesut Ozil looks a strong bet to drop out of the starting XI after a limp showing at the Amex.

Alexandre Lacazette could again be paired alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack, though his manager may instead decide to plump for Alex Iwobi or Aaron Ramsey in behind the Gabonese forward for this encounter. Ainsley Maitland-Niles could be used at right wing-back given the dearth of alternatives available, meanwhile.

Pre-Game Analysis

Klopp deployed a 4-2-3-1 in the win over Newcastle but highlighted the defensive problems that the system brings, so may switch back to a 4-3-3 for the visit of free-scoring Arsenal.

Emery will stick with his 4-2-3-1 meaning Lacazette will remain on the bench as he won’t want to risk going too top heavy against Liverpool’s superior midfield.

Arsenal will need to sit back, frustrate the Reds, and hope that their forwards are clinical enough to take what few chances will come their way and that their defenders are strong enough to hold on.


Both teams will come flying out of the gates as it’s a significant match in both sides’ season, Liverpool with the title, and Arsenal with the top four.

Liverpool have a significant advantage in the strength of our midfield, and being at home, this issue will be even further highlighted. This is where the game will ultimately be won and lost.

The Reds will go into 2019 on top of the table with a strong 3-1 victory.

You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 29/12/2018


Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool : Player Ratings and Talking Points

Disappointing Draw

Liverpool drew 1-1 with an impressive Arsenal side in a game that’s difficult to analyse. On one hand, Liverpool were unlucky not to have won 3-0 after Mane’s goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside, and VVD missed two big chances. On the other, Arsenal were dominant for long stretches of the match, and it’s arguable that Liverpool barely deserved a draw.

Klopp voiced his disappointment after the game regarding the offside decision but correctly pointed out his side’s own failings. Klopp said, “It’s a pity it didn’t count, but we made a few more mistakes than the ref to be honest. It was very intense, Arsenal are in a very good moment, I thought we made life a bit too easy for them.”

Liverpool didn’t come out of the blocks with their usual aggressiveness in the big games. Arsenal dominated the early periods, but it was Liverpool who had the two biggest chances of the half through Mane and VVD. Milner smashed home a rebound in the second half and the Reds looked like holding on, but a brilliant goal by Alexandre Lacazette rescued a point for the Gunners late in the game.

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Player Ratings

Alisson – 6.5

This was probably the busiest Alisson’s been since he arrived, and for the most part, he handled the intensity of the match well. He made strong saves to deny the likes of Lacazette and Lucas Torreira, but could’ve done better on occasions such as misjudging a cross that Henrikh Mkhitaryan should’ve opened the scoring from.

Little to no blame can be put on the Brazilian for the late goal. The pass was expertly threaded through a tired defence, and Lacazette’s composure to scoop-turn away from Alisson and ability to find the far corner was superb. Alisson made the right choice by coming out, and a lesser striker would’ve had no chance of finishing from the angle that the goalkeeper left him.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 3

This game was one of few, including Manchester United and Crystal Palace away last season, where Trent had a poor performance. He looked vulnerable all night and was constantly beaten by Arsenal’s attackers who took it in turns to have a crack at our right-hand side.

Sead Kolasinac, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Mesut Ozil all found joy against TAA, but in fairness to the youngster, no one stepped in to give him a hand or even bother to track Ozil who drifted over to his side frequently. In reaction to the game and this performance, some fans have suggested this is a sign that Trent’s been found out at fullback and needs to move into midfield. This is a harsh assessment, and it won’t be long before Trent is back to his best.

Joe Gomez – 7

Gomez was simply incredible for most of the match. He made numerous blocks and interceptions to keep his side in the contest, and it’s undeniable that he’s playing like a centre-back with many years experience in the league. He uses his intelligence just as impressively as his strength and speed.

His positioning wasn’t the best when Alex Iwobi assisted Lacazette for the goal, as he left too big a gap for the ball to be played into. Lacazette did come from behind him though, and fatigue surely affected the situation as well.

Virgil van Dijk – (Man of the Match) 8

First and foremost, van Dijk defended brilliantly for the majority of the game and was responsible for rescuing Liverpool from themselves far too often. VVD had three big chances in the game, and the first was a case of ‘the wrong man, in the right place’, as the big Dutchman couldn’t sort his feet out to poke the ball past Bernd Leno. He was faultless for the second and third though, beating Leno to a header which agonisingly came back off the post, as well as forcing Leno to tip the ball over after another headed effort.

Like Gomez, van Dijk must shoulder some of the blame for the equaliser, but it can’t be stressed enough how impeccable the pass, run, turn, and finish were. VVD didn’t track Lacazette as he slipped behind Gomez, and he failed to alert his partner to the danger.

Andy Robertson – 8

While Trent struggled, Robbo thrived. The Scot benefited from the majority of traffic going down the opposite side and used this to his advantage by bombing forward whenever possible and linking up with Mane in a throwback to their excellent combination play of last season.

He could’ve had a goal for his efforts, but was unable to direct his powerful shot around Leno. Nevertheless, his runs and crosses were a constant thorn in the side of Arsenal’s defence and midfield who couldn’t pin him down.

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Fabinho – 3

Fabinho had a nightmare. Klopp and the fans were left furious as the Brazilian continually gave the ball away with sloppy passing and careless dribbling. Liverpool consistently put themselves under pressure by giving the ball away in midfield, and Fabinho was the worst offender.

He played much better in the last two games operating in Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 system, so perhaps some of the fans’ frustration should be tempered with an understanding that Fabinho needs more time to settle into the 4-3-3.

Gini Wijnaldum – 6.5

Gini was the only midfielder who didn’t give the ball away every other time he touched it, but he did little else to influence the result. His silky touches are a joy to watch, but they aren’t enough to win a midfield battle, and that was where the game was very nearly lost.

Crucially, Gini didn’t slide over to help Trent when it was clear that the youngster wasn’t coping well with Arsenal’s attack. In particular, Ozil was allowed free rein at times while Gini sat centrally, watching Trent struggle.

James Milner – 7

Milner had a poor start to the game and was uncharacteristically wasteful in possession at times. Like Gini, Milner either failed to recognise the fact that Arsenal were directing their attacks at Trent, or simply didn’t react to it.

He improved in the second half though, and his well-taken goal could’ve sealed all three points on another day. His work rate never slowed, even after he suffered a nasty head clash with Gomez.

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Mo Salah – 6.5

Salah is slowly continuing on his path back to top form, and had another promising display against Arsenal. He wasn’t at his absolute best, but his movement and passing were significantly better than earlier in the season.

His speed caused the Arsenal defence to panic on some occasions, and the Egyptian could’ve registered a winning assist, but twice his final pass to Mane just evaded the Senegalese flyer by mere inches.

Sadio Mane – 7

Mane did well to follow up on Firmino’s chip and stay onside in a tricky situation, although the officials disagreed with that last point. Mane didn’t get enough of the service that he needed, yet every time he did get the ball in space he looked Liverpool’s most dangerous asset.

His outstanding run and powerful cross forced Leno to palm the ball out of the path of Salah, before Milner belted the followup shot into the back of the net for what might’ve been a winning assist from Mane.

Bobby Firmino – 5.5

Bobby didn’t impact the game nearly as much as we’re used to seeing him do in big matches. His run and chip for Mane’s offside goal was classic Firmino brilliance, but aside from that, he barely got involved in the game.

His passes and touches weren’t nearly as potent as fans have come to expect from him, and Klopp rightly hooked him off for Shaqiri in the second half.

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Xherdan Shaqiri – (on for Firmino 77′) 5

Shaqiri didn’t do anything wrong when he came onto the pitch, but he didn’t quite have the impact that fans were expecting. Perhaps Klopp should’ve brought him on earlier to give him a better chance of influencing the game.

Joel Matip – (on for Salah 90′) N/A

No time to make an impact.

Unused Subs

Simon Mignolet, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, and Divock Origi.


Jurgen Klopp – 6

Many fans were hoping to see Klopp continue to use the 4-2-3-1 formation that had been working so well in previous weeks, but there was nothing wrong on paper with his choice to revert to a 4-3-3. Moreover, when it was clear that the original system wasn’t working, Klopp wasted little time switching back to his 4-2-3-1, and it had a positive impact on the game.

Likewise, his team selection can’t be faulted. Shaqiri was the only player who might’ve started instead of being relegated to the bench, but he would’ve replaced Milner who scored the goal to help us get the draw. Many fans have criticised Klopp’s perceived negativity as he brought Matip on for Salah with only seconds left on the clock, while Sturridge was left on the bench. Not bringing on Studge was strange given the impact he’s had to our season as a substitute, but Salah was out on his feet, so bringing on Matip to secure the result made sense.

Klopp’s fury was clear from the first few minutes at the casual passes that were gifting Arsenal possession. The decision making was generally sub-par, and that’s not something that the manager can be blamed for. His half time talk and adjustments did have an obvious effect and tilted the game slightly more in Liverpool’s favour in the second half.

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Talking Points

Best Formation

Klopp’s decision to abandon the previously successful 4-2-3-1 system in favour of his old 4-3-3 suggests that he believes the former still needs some work on the training ground before it’s ready to be used against the top sides.

Recent results and performances would suggest otherwise though. Utilising Gini and Fabinho in a double pivot has been a revelation for our midfield, and Shaqiri’s performances have generally warranted more starts.  Using a 4-2-3-1 is ideal because it suits most of our players perfectly. For example, Trent can receive more cover from a four of five-man midfield, meaning the likes of Ozil and Aubmeyang can’t double team him.

It’s a mystery why Klopp isn’t as convinced as most fans about this subject, but the Arsenal game will have surely persuaded him that 4-2-3-1 is the way forward, at least for now.

How Bad Is The Result?

The performance was unacceptable in patches, but the result is what matters most. A lot of fans have reacted poorly to what they see as two vital points dropped. Their core sentiment is difficult to disagree with in the sense that it was an important game and one that both Manchester City and Chelsea managed to win. By extension, this result could be viewed as two points of lost ground to our rivals.

However, when the bigger picture is assessed, it’s not nearly as bad as some are making out. After 11 games, Liverpool are still undefeated and have amassed a whopping 27 out of a possible 33 points. Moreover, we’re the only team in the top six who have played four games against other top six sides. There are plenty more chances for our rivals to take points off of each other, but only a few for them to take points off of us. Beating Chelsea, City, and Arsenal would’ve been ideal, but at least we didn’t give any of them a win.

Even though many fans are stressing about the fact that City dominate smaller teams, Liverpool remain the only side in the league who haven’t dropped points to anyone outside of the top six. City drew with Wolves, Cheslea drew with West Ham, and the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United have suffered more than a couple of bad results against lesser sides. We may only be top of the league for a few more hours, but we’re in a better position than many seem to suggest.

Different Challenge Ahead

Liverpool have emerged from perhaps our trickiest run of fixtures of the entire 2018/19 season unbeaten, and top of both our Champions League group, and the Premier League, at least until City play. Fans should be happy with that. Being clear top would’ve been amazing, but the lads have done a commendable job nonetheless.

Now that we’ve put ourselves in a competitive position, it’s time to capatilise on that by continuing to pick up wins against the smaller teams. Before we take on Manchester United in mid-December, Liverpool play Red Star, Fulham, Watford, PSG, Everton, Burnley, Bournemouth, and Napoli.

A win at Red Star could secure qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, and every one of those Premier League fixtures are winnable. In that same period, Chelsea play Tottenham and Manchester City, while City also have a game against Manchester United. If the players can make the most of it, this could be a period of real optimism for the club heading into the new year.


You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea

Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog and Fields of Anfield Road – 04/11/2018

Arsenal vs Liverpool – Premier League Preview

Big Test for Both Sides

Two of the Premier League’s most inform teams will do battle at the Emirates, and the stakes are exceptionally high for such an early point in the season.

For Arsenal, the hosts, this is their greatest test since Unai Emery’s philosophy has started to bear fruit. Much has been made of their long unbeaten run, but it’s been quite some time since they’ve faced a team of Liverpool’s quality.

For Liverpool, this is a must win game. Not only because it is against a top-four rival, but because both Chelsea and Manchester City picked up all three points at the Emirates. If Liverpool want to stake their claim as genuine title contenders, then anything other than a win must be seen as a failure.

Arsenal Team News and Predicted Lineup


Arsenal limp into this fixture with some key absences. Their defence are on their last legs, although their formidable attack is as potent as ever.

Mohamed Elneny, Laurent Koscielny, Kostantinos Mavropanos, and Matteo Guendouzi will all miss this weekend’s fixture. While the likes of Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Sokratis will be assessed as close to kick-off as possible.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles could come in to replace Bellerin if he’s not fit to start, while supposed Liverpool transfer target Aaron Ramsey could be brought into the midfield in Emery elects to add more numbers in the centre of the park.

Liverpool Team News and Predicted Lineup

lineup (1).png

It will likely be too soon for either of Jordan Henderson or Naby Keita to be in contention against Arsenal, but other than that, Liverpool’s lineup will be strong.

The rest of the team more or less picks itself, especially the defence, and to a lesser extent, the midfield, given the poor recent showings by Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana.

The only doubt is whether Klopp will elect to retain Xherdan Shaqiri meaning that Liverpool will lineup closer to a 4-2-3-1. This would be a bold move by Klopp, but one that could play dividends.

Pre-Game Analysis

If Shaqiri plays, and Klopps trust Gini Wijnaldum and Fabinho to control the midfield as they’ve done in the last two games, then Arsenal’s makeshift defence will be put under even more pressure. If Milner plays though, it will mean Liverpool have a better chance of nullifying the impact of players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal have a record of starting slow this season, which may sway Klopp’s decision to try and kill the game early with a Shaqiri-spearheaded blitz. However, Emery is a shrewd manager and will have planned for Klopp’s attack well.

Liverpool will need to punish Arsenal if they linger on the ball too long, as they are a side who prefer to play out from the back. However, if they get the ball further afield, then they have every chance of scoring goals.


Both managers will have had their eyes on this fixture for many weeks now, and as such, both will have prepared game plans that they believe will secure the win.

Liverpool will be the more desperate of the two for a victory, but that’s not to say Arsenal won’t be giving it a real crack at home.

Ultimately, Liverpool’s defence should be able to repel Arsenal’s formidable attack more often than not, but the same won’t be said of the Gunner’s defence against whichever attacking combination Klopp prefers. A well earned 3-1 victory for the Reds will make a  real statement going forward.


You’ll Never Walk Alone

Cieren O’Dea


Red Or Dead Liverpool FC Football Blog – 27/10/2018

Arsenal 3-4 Liverpool Match Review

Reds Triumph at the Emirates in a Nail-Biter

Many tipped this to be the best game of the opening round and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Despite a reasonably slow start with both teams trying to dust off the cobwebs of the summer, the tempo grew to such a degree that it became impossible to turn away.

Player Ratings

Simon Mignolet – 6: The much maligned Belgian could hardly be blamed for conceding three goals, some poor defending gave him little chance of a clean sheet. Indecisiveness when coming out to defuse crosses, put his defenders under unnecessary pressure at times, but overall hardly put a foot wrong. His save from the penalty spot revived memories of his debut game against former team Sunderland in 2013.

Nathaniel Clyne – 6: A steady start to the season for the England national. A pin-point cross whipped into the path of Coutinho for Liverpool’s third goal was his high point. Looked uncharacteristically shaky after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin was introduced, the Arsenal man bested him regularly leading to Arsenal’s second. Decent showing, but will want to improve at Burnley.

Dejan Lovren – 5: Disappointing start to the season for Lovren, could find himself replaced by Joel Matip unless he bounces back immediately. Some poor passing early on, coupled with a careless tackle prompting a yellow card saw the Croat under pressure early. Allowed Callum Chambers space to rise and score Arsenal’s third.

Ragnar Klaven – 8: Could hardly have had a better debut, encouraging start from the Estonian. Regularly found himself cleaning up at the back with some calm passes and effective clearances. Arsenal’s attempts at getting on the end of crosses were completely scuppered by Klaven’s dominance in the air. Even with Joel Matip and Mamadou Sakho’s imminent returns, surely repeat performances will ensure Klaven stays in the first team.

Alberto Moreno – 4: An unbelievably rash challenge in the box saw Moreno go over the ball and take out Theo Walcott for a penalty. Mignolet momentarily saved him from further embarrassment, but less than 90 seconds later Moreno lost his man again and Arsenal were up 1-0. To be fair Lallana should shoulder some of the blame for turning the ball over cheaply, but Moreno had his back to play and was beaten by his man regularly throughout the game from start to finish. Simply not good enough, James Milner may well start at Burnley next week, but a long-term solution is needed.

Jordan Henderson – 5: Not exactly a captain’s performance on a day where some strong leadership wouldn’t have gone astray. Seemed to drift in and out of the game, even during the moments that he was present his contributions were largely ineffectual. A nice switch-pass to Clyne and a good cross to Firmino were the highlights of his afternoon. Worked hard as usual, but needs to show more influence, in fairness defensive midfield is clearly not his best position.

Georginio Wijnaldum – 6: Much like his captain, the former Newcastle man found himself on the periphery at times. His impact was much greater when venturing forward, providing an excellent cross for Lallana’s goal. Had an opportunity to score one of his own in the second half, but side-footed a tame effort straight at Petr Cech. His hunt for an away goal in the Premier League continues and he will look to be more involved at Burnley next week.

Adam Lallana- 6: As stated above, Lallana was largely at fault for Arsenal’s first goal, carelessly losing the ball deep in our own half. He was able to atone for this though by scoring his first of the season to give Liverpool the lead. Was subbed off with 15 minutes remaining after running himself into the ground. Great to see Lallana’s goal tally starting already.

Sadio Mane – 8: Another excellent debut, this time from the Senegalese wide-man. Like most of the Liverpool players he struggled to impose himself onto the game in the first-half. Although once the midfield began utilising him in the the second, his pace and direct running caused panic in the inexperienced Arsenal defence. An incredible goal after a terrific run gives Liverpool fans reason to be optimistic, looking forward to seeing more of the same this season.

Philippe Coutinho – 8 (Man of the Match): Last year Coutinho produced a wonder-strike to defeat Stoke on the opening day, this year he’s done it again. One of the best free kicks you’re likely to see, Coutinho’s shot swung away from Cech and into the top corner, absolutely inch perfect. This, followed up by some nice touches in the build up to Lallana’s goal and a cool finish from Clyne’s cross summed up his afternoon. Klopp and the fans will be hoping that his injury was nothing more cramp and that he’ll be raring to go at Burnley.

Roberto Firmino – 5: Despite having a full preseason under his belt, the Brazilian looked off the pace and out of sync with his teammates. He failed to demonstrate the same pressing and desire that Mane and Lallana had. Despite some improvement in the second-half, it is still questionable if Firmino should be leading the line as he looked much more comfortable after the introduction of Origi. Could be dropped in favour of Origi or the returning Sturridge after a disappointing start to the campaign.

Emre Can, Divock Origi and Kevin Stewart – N/A: None were involved long enough to warrant a fair rating, however they all did their jobs well. Can was calm and calculated in defensive midfield, providing Liverpool with a much-needed physical presence in the middle of the park. Origi shifted the momentum back in Liverpool’s favour upon his introduction; releasing Firmino into more space and allowing Liverpool’s defence the option of pumping the ball upfield. Kevin Stewart was only on for a few minutes but got involved defensively and didn’t appear to be fazed by the hostile crowd.

Jurgen Klopp – 6: The toughest rating to give on this list, Klopp’s afternoon was filled with ups and downs. The starting XI failed to impose themselves in the first-half.Jordan Henderson playing a holding role with only Wijnaldum and Lallana to assist him seemed a strange decision. However whatever he said at half-time clearly fired up the Liverpool players as they came out looking completely revitalised. Arguably got too carried away after Mane’s goal, the wild celebrations could be seen as the reason for Liverpool switching off and allowing Oxlade-Chamberlin to score only seconds later. Has some important decisions to make before the Burnley game, and before the transfer window closes.

Talking Points

Same defensive issues?

Despite some wonderful moments going forward, Liverpool’s defence looked as shaky as ever, only Klaven instilled any form of confidence. Moreno, Clyne and Lovren could all be blamed individually for each goal respectively. Whilst there were other factors, the images below demonstrate how poor positioning contributed to the goals.

alberto moreno arsenal

1st Goal – Lallana gives the ball away, leaving Moreno well out of position as Arsenal break.

clyne arsenal 1

2nd Goal – Lallana fails to cover Santi Cazorla, opting to double up on Henderson’s player, this drags Clyne out of position.

clyne arsenal 2

2nd Goal – Clyne bizarrely shows right-footed Oxlade-Chamberlin inside onto his strong foot instead of showing him the byline. Even if he managed to get a cross in, Klaven likely would have dealt with it easily.

3rd goal arsenal

3rd Goal – Moreno not covering a zone or marking a man, Clyne with his back turned as the ball is being delivered, Liverpool again showing disorganisation when defending set-pieces.

3rd goal arsenal 2

Chambers gets goal-side of Lovren as Klaven abandons his man in an attempt to cover. Clyne and Moreno’s poor initial positioning render them completely ineffective as several Arsenal players are free in and around the box..

Klopp will have no doubt seen these simple mistakes as well, meaning some of the offending trio may well be replaced for the trip to Burnley. Matip could come in for Lovren and Milner for Moreno, Clyne is the only one currently without a senior replacement. If not, then some serious work is needed on the training ground, otherwise we can expect to see many more goals like these in the weeks to come.

Poetry in Motion

All four of Liverpool’s goals were brilliant, Coutinho’s incredible free-kick will steal the headlines, but Liverpool’s third was a passage of pure excellence. Roughly 40 passes were completed in the build up to the goal which was finished off by Coutinho; the fans duly showed their appreciation for such a fine team goal at this stage of the season.

Players on Debut

Sadio Mane lived up to the hype with a memorable debut goal and performance. For all Liverpool supporters it must have been very refreshing to see a winger in red with pace and utilising it with direct running. This caused major problems for Arsenal in the second-half and will cause many other teams similar problems throughout the season. Ragnar Klaven exceeded expectations, many fans predicted a solid debut from the experienced defender but few would’ve thought that he’d be by far Liverpool’s best defender on the day. Wijnaldum didn’t quite have the eye-catching debut his new teammates had, but it was a good showing nonetheless. Struggled with his defensive duties early on, but grew into the game, and provided an excellent assist for Liverpool’s second. Great signs for the Reds, good business thus far.

Still Finding our Style

Liverpool’s attack in the first-half was practically toothless, with no one really showing any sort of penetration or making any runs. Once we started using Coutinho in a number 10 role in the second-half, it opened up spaces down the flanks for the likes of Mane and Wijnaldum. Firmino as a ‘False-9’ didn’t seem to work at all, and until Origi’s introduction he really struggled to link up with his teammates. The midfield trio will also need more time to gel as Henderson is not a natural holding midfielder, whilst Lallana and particularly Wijnaldum are not utilised best in a supporting role; both need the freedom to roam forward to be effective. These issues will need to be addressed sooner rather than later because Liverpool have a very difficult run of fixtures, and the sooner everyone is working together and know what’s expected of them, the better.

Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 15/08/2016.

Arsenal vs Liverpool Match Preview

Tough Start to the 2016/17 Campaign for Reds

Liverpool take on Arsenal at the Emirates in their opening game of the 2016/17 Premier League season. Cieren O’Dea for Red or Dead takes a look at how both teams might approach this challenge.


Team News

The Gooners will start the season with a very similar lineup to last season’s, the only major addition being Granit Xhaka after the Swiss midfielder joined from Borussia Mönchengladbach for £30 million. They will however be without a host of first team regulars through injury and others may not yet be match fit. Per Mertersacker, Gabriel Paulista, Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson are certainly going to miss the game, with Jack Wilshere also likely to be rested to aid the recovery from yet another injury. Question marks still remain over Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Mesut Özil’s fitness and all or some of the trio could well be benched or left out entirely while they work to get back up to speed after long European Championship 2016 campaigns.


Arsenal - Week 1

With Arsenal facing an injury crisis with their centre-backs, Arsene Wenger may well have to field a makeshift defence against the Reds. New signing Rob Holding could be given a surprise debut in what could be a baptism of fire against a Liverpool outfit full of attacking potency. Callum Chambers looks set to lineup alongside him, although desperation could force Wenger’s hand and Koscielny may be rushed back to partner Holding. Dangerous fullbacks Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin will do their best to track Liverpool’s attacking players whilst causing some havoc of their own up the other end of the pitch. Who will partner Xhaka in midfield is up for debate; it is unknown if Wenger will give the job to Santi Cazorla to play as a deep-lying playmaker or  opt to play Francis Coquelin or Mohamed Elneny to shield a frail defence instead. In attack Theo Walcott will lead the line supported by Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin being well in contention for a starting role.


Team News

Liverpool will be without new additions Joel Matip and Loris Karius, while Mamadou Sakho, Lucas Leiva, Joe Gomez and Daniel Sturridge will also miss the trip to the Emirates. There are several other players who are in doubt after picking up niggling injuries including James Milner, Marko Grujic and Sheyi Ojo. Whilst not ideal, Liverpool’s squad is in much better condition than Arsenal’s going into the start of the season, even without key players such as Sturridge, Sakho, Matip and Karius.


Liverpool - Week 1

Karius’ broken hand paves the way for Simon Mignolet to reclaim his place in goal, Alberto Moreno should also get the nod from Jurgen Klopp over Milner after the latter picked up a minor injury against Barcelona. Ragnar Klaven and Dejan Lovren look set to continue their promising partnership alongside Nathaniel Clyne in what looks to be a fairly solid defence. Emre Can will anchor a three man midfield supported by Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum who should find himself bombing forward into the Arsenal box regularly. The front three will consist of new man Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho supporting Roberto Firmino up top, completing a potent attacking lineup. Divock Origi and Adam Lallana could also feature, but this will likely come from the bench.


This game promises to be one of the best and most exciting of the round, with both sides boasting impressive attacking ranks. Arsenal will look to use the pace of their four attacking players to target Klaven and particularly Moreno which could cause problems for the Reds. Xhaka and Cazorla could easily play passes to put those men under pressure meaning Liverpool’s midfield will have to work in conjunction with the defence to keep them at bay. The key battle to watch for Arsenal will be Sanchez vs Moreno, quite a scary thought.

Meanwhile Liverpool will look to put early pressure on a makeshift defence with Firmino, Coutinho and Mane all vying to make an impression, Wijnaldum will also look to exploit Xhaka and Cazorla’s lack of pace and support Liverpool’s attacks on the break. Whilst Liverpool should start the season with a 4-3-3 formation, expect this to revert back to Klopp’s favoured 4-2-3-1 in the coming weeks. The key battle to watch for Liverpool will be Mane and Firmino vs Monreal and Holding. The introduction of Origi at some point in the match should also be anticipated as the young Belgian has the pace, power and finishing to give this Arsenal defence major headaches.


Either way this game should be an absolute thriller to kick off Liverpool’s season. Both sides will be looking to attack, but I’m going to give the edge to Liverpool as our defence is much stronger on paper and Arsenal are still lacking a world class centre-back and striker. I’m expecting goals from Mane and Origi in a 3-1 win on the opening day for the Reds.


Cieren O’Dea for Red Or Dead – Liverpool FC Football Blog – on 13/08/2016.