8/29/2020 – Wembley Stadium – Liverpool 1 – 1 Arsenal (Arsenal win 4-5 on Penalties)
While it’s never great to start off a new campaign with a loss, especially in a “Final.” However, there is plenty to take away from today’s match, and plenty for us Reds to carry into the season.
In case you were wondering whether the clubs saw this as just another preseason friendly, Jürgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta trotted out teams on to the pitch today that could pass as first XI’s during any week in the Premier League. Both sides came in with a certain intensity that was seen all the way to the final whistle.
Liverpool came out today, as they did against RB Salzburg, with a high line set for the defense. This tactic is considered to be one of the most high-risk, high-reward tactics in most football circles. Early in today’s match, we saw Arsenal pull Liverpool’s high line in, pass out from the back, and enter Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Aubameyang’s goal in the twelfth minute today was a stunner, nothing more to add.
The rest of the first half Liverpool poked and prodded the Arsenal backline, to no avail. For much of the first half, the long balls that Liverpool are so used to playing from the backs and midfielders just weren’t there. Mo, Bobby, and Sadio just didn’t seem to have room to operate. Apart from Andy Roberston flashing in his always consistent crosses, Liverpool seemed unable to breakdown Arsenal.
As the game wore on in the second half, Liverpool began to find their legs.
Fast forward to the part where Liverpool finally started to look like Liverpool again. In the sixtieth minute, Klopp brings Taki Minamino and Naby Keita on in favor of Neco William and James Milner. Naby lad came in and was the B-12 shot the midfield so desperately needed for the first hour of the game. He came on the pitch, was winning balls left and right, and everyone started to feed off of his energy.
No less than fifteen minutes after the subs, Liverpool struck. In a moment of brilliance from the Egyptian King, Mo broke into the box and the ball fell neatly for Taki to put away the chance. Game level, time for another.
Unfortunately, we all know the final result of the team, but there are two big takeaways that came out of today.
The first: it is clearly evident that this Liverpool team NEEDS Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson back, badly. The team just looks so much better with them on the pitch.
The second: Jürgen Klopp will have this team drilled an ready for Leeds United in two weeks as they look to defend their title.
I’m ready for the real stuff to start again! Until next time, Reds.