5 things I’d LOVE to see against Liverpool

by .

Oh hello Buzzfeed headline 2014. Here’s a quick run down of what I’d like to see this evening.

1.A lite version of what our future attacking structure could look like

It’s dangerously close to the end of the transfer window. There’s no Aouar yet. There might not be. We are absolutely toothless, still.

What I can’t have is that there is no way to play attacking football this year without that one player. If we are really going into the season with the least creative midfield in the league, that is pure negligence. I would LOVE to see a lite version of where this process is heading. Is there a young player that can play in the pockets, like ESR? Will we give Saka a role at #10? Is there a system the younger players will be put in that can at least guide the way this evening? I hope so. We can’t pin out hopes on Auba all season. Leeds are out signing Cusiance from Bayern. If they can shower teams in shots on their budget, we should be able to do something.

2. The future of our CB spine

Tonight, one would assume, we’ll get to see Willy Saliba and Gabriel in the centre of defence together in their first competitive match. This is exciting on many levels. The two of them are very capable with the ball at their feet, they have the requisite height to make us hard to attack from setpieces… the question is, do they have the power and wherewithal to deal with an explosive Premier League team this early? We shall see. We’re mostly here to see where Saliba is in his development, hopefully he surprises everyone with an elite performance.

3. The future of the #13

I can’t remember the last time we had a #13 back-up keeper. Manninger? It almost feels a bit quaint. I like it, but will I like the keeper wearing the jersey? He’s handsome, no doubt. But good? Who knows. Arteta and his coaching staff took a big gamble binning off Emi Martinez. Tonight, we’ll get a glimpse at whether Iñaki Caña, the keeping coach, has good taste in students. Runar had some pretty grim stats from his time in Ligue 1 last season. Are we rescuing a diamond in the rough, or are we making the mistake City did at the beginning i.e. signing a keeper who can play passes like Pirlo, but couldn’t catch the ‘rona in an emergency ward sneeze box? This game will be a huge baptism of fire, longballs, and shots… will it be Massimo Taibi? Or Alex Manninger? We’ll soon find out.

4. What is a Willock?

Arsene liked him. Emery liked him. Freddie LOVED him. Arteta likes him.

What is it about Joe Willock they all love? Because I’d really like to see some of it on the box tonight.

We know he makes excellent runs off the ball. We know he can dribble. We know he can move at speed. We know he is capable of goals and assists… can we see it happen at some point? If he splutters again this season, he’ll be out in the summer. This is make or break.

Time to shine, Joe. We believe in you.

5. How quickly can we adapt to being found out?

I pontificated before the last Liverpool game over whether teams in the top 6 would suss us this season. We are very well drilled now. We defend better, our off the ball movement is great, our pressing is very good. However, we’re a bit robotic. Klopp knew how we’d try and attack down the left in the last game and he tried to deal with it (we still scored from the left). We need some new party tricks, we can’t get by on the same one all season. Now Liverpool knows where to double up and over-commit in the press, what is the plan? Could we do something mad like play down the right? Are we going pure long ball? Would we dare play through the middle? We were sussed the other night. There needs to be some innovation in how we play or the same will happen tonight.

Oh, how about a 6th point… WIN 4-0. Amirite? Of course I am.

Enjoy the game, I’ll see you in the comments. Come at me with your bullet points!

P.S. Congrats to Saka on his England call up. To commit to the three lions on Nigerian Independence Day. Man is going to the very top. Cold as ice. A natural killer. What a talent!

799 Responses to “5 things I’d LOVE to see against Liverpool”

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  1. Graham62


    If only we had some inbuilt creativity in the team.

    You know, someone that was willing and able to be there for the team and enjoy his responsibilities.

    Surely there’s someone out there.

  2. DivineSherlock


    To be fair , we have been solid at the back , its only the individual mistakes that have cost us. And to lose at Anfield in PL, where nobody ever won against them in 64 games is no biggie .

  3. Ernest Reed

    “Of course, we do have a player in the squad who can play that ball with his eyes closed .”

    Only problem is said player can no longer be bothered to put in any effort. Seems everyone but you realizes this point, Pierre. Why you continue to flog a dead horse is beyond me, but keep having at it – your track record for supporting dead horses remains unrivalled.

  4. Thorough

    Arteta talks a lot of bull at times. Saliba didn’t play last year? But Gabriel didn’t play for 6 straight months before joining us and he’s pulling up trees already. He prolly even feared Gabriel would be shitty against Liverpool and plumped for Luiz last time around. Funny enough Gabriel just had a masterclass where he had Salah in his pocket. Stop over thinking shit.

  5. Trask

    All he needs is 3 points?

    I mean like WTF

    Suddenly turgid football is accepted as the norm against all opposition

    The hypocrisy here is embarrassing .

  6. azed

    Suddenly turgid football is accepted as the norm against all opposition

    The hypocrisy here is embarrassing .

    Careful Trask,
    You are talking yourself to a ban.

    It’s illegal to point out the hypocrisy of the supreme leader.

  7. Markymark

    Jesus H did we get walloped 5-1 or maybe 6-0.? A fair few people need to accept a win however it occurs . Those of longer memories will remember a number of back to the wall jobs that would have been celebrated if it’d been Mourinho.
    I’d have taken a 0-0 and win on penalties against Barca in the champs league. So many fools on here would rather we lost in the right way .

  8. andy1886

    Pierre is right of course, we do have a player that can play that ball in the squad. He’s called Tierney and he’s made that pass several times, unfortunately both he and Auba had to be rested yesterday.

  9. Pierre

    That’s who I was talking about…..the problem is , he is playing so far back that it is nearly impossible for him to be in that the position to slide a team mate in

    and no , a ball over the top of the fullback is not sliding a player in.

  10. Dark Hei


    Yeah, Arteta-ball is as boring as Emery-ball

    But credit him for steering the club away from the league position that Emery got us into and rehabilitating a lot of the club’s players.

    That alone, plus the winning results, will give him a long rope to hang from.

  11. azed

    Over the weekend, Arsenal were outshot, at home, by West Ham United, 14 to 7. This was Arteta’s 22nd Premier League game in charge of the club, and it marked the 16th time his team had been outshot by its opponent. Through those 22 matches, Arteta’s Arsenal have taken 42.8 percent of the shots. (All data via Stats Perform.) You can slide your finger across the x-axis on Grayson’s first graph above to get a sense of what kind of points total that performance typically produces. Here’s how Arsenal compare to all the other Big Five clubs since Arteta was hired. (Ignore the huge outliers on the edges; they’re newly promoted clubs.)

    Arsenal Still Have One Huge, Fundamental Problem
    And Mikel Arteta needs to figure out a way to fix it
    Ryan O’Hanlon
    Sep 22
    Black lives matter. This document has an exhaustive list of places you can donate. It’s also got an incredible library of black literature and anti-racist texts. Donate, read, call, and email your representatives. We’re all in this together.

    A lot happened in North London on Saturday.

    For starters, Arsenal won, 2-1, against West Ham United. Granit Xhaka passed the ball forward 660 yards. Arsenal, as a team, advanced the ball 3,025 yards. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang created four shots. Dani Ceballos and Alexandre Lacazette each pressured an opponent 19 separate times. Bukayo Saka had four passes blocked and created two goals. Gabriel cleared the ball nine times and touched it 14 times in his own penalty area. Bernd Leno only played the ball long on one of his five goal kicks, and he came out of his box to complete a defensive action twice.

    We, the non-proprietary public, are getting better and better counting the things that happen on a soccer field. Of course, even the ability to count nutmegs and successful pressures and passes played off the ground but also below shoulder height still misses most of what’s happening on a soccer field: all the stuff that exists beyond the players on the ball. But advanced tracking data isn’t really necessary to understand what’s going at Arsenal, and neither is more detailed on-ball info.

    Since Mikel Arteta was hired by Arsenal back in December, they’ve won some trophies, they’ve taken scalps off two of the best teams in the world, and they’re a perfect six-points-from-six through two games so far this season. They seem like they’re headed in the right direction, but they’re not going anywhere until they figure out how to shoot — and to stop their opponents from doing the same.

    It might sound silly now, but the shot was the foundational metric of the fledgling analytics movement from early last decade. Players that created a lot of shots: good! Players that took a lot of shots: even better! Teams that took a bunch of shots and allowed only a few: the best!

    “[Shot data] was the building block to get from scorelines to xG,” said James Yorke, Head of Analysis at the consultancy Statsbomb and himself an influential early blogger. “Without shot stuff, there is no xG.”

    Much of that shot stuff was put forth by the analyst James Grayson on his blog, which was literally called “James’ Blog”. First, he looked into the correlation between points and total shots ratio — the percentage of the shots a team attempts in their matches. Here’s what he found, back in the summer of 2012:

    And here’s what he wrote at the time:

    There’s a pretty clear pattern here – those teams that control less of the ball (i.e., those to the left of the plot) are far more likely to be relegated whereas it’s very hard to win the league, or qualify for the champions league, without controlling a majority of the ball. The only real outlier is … Everton’s qualification in ’04-05.

    It’s all well and good to know that hogging shots leads to points, but is it a repeatable skill or based more on luck? In 2013, Grayson answered the question with this graph:

    His conclusion:

    In summary – total shots are an excellent indicator of how good a team is. The fact that they stabilise early on in the season is really useful too. TSR undoubtedly has its flaws, but it is truly amazing to me that something so simple does so damn well at predicting the Premiership knowing only a team’s TSR from last season with no adjustment for score effects, personnel changes, or shot quality.

    Since then, expected-goals data has added more nuance and context to something like TSR, as it accounts for shot positioning, shot type, the pass that led to the shot, and now even defensive pressure and positioning, too. But still, at the core of the sport still sits the concept of the shot or the chance. It’s quite simple, right? The more shots you allow, the more chances your opponent has to score and vice versa. Wayne Gretzky and all that. Adjusting for chance quality creates outliers and allows for more granular comparisons, but broadly speaking, the best soccer teams in the world are the ones who limit the chances they allow and increase the number they create. It’s a simple probability game, but the shot count is a proxy for how well a team has mastered the various aspects of game control, too.

    And so: Arsenal. Laudatory profiles have been written about the transformation Mikel Arteta has forced the club to undergo in his first stint as a head coach. On the back of recent results, Arteta has been promoted from head coach to manager, where he’ll now have more of a say in transfers, the youth team, and as the commentators on NBC Sports this weekend noted, he’s even involved in the science department! Yet, despite the consistently positive press and his growing influence over things beyond the things he was hired to control, his team still hasn’t been able to get control over the ever-important shots.

    Over the weekend, Arsenal were outshot, at home, by West Ham United, 14 to 7. This was Arteta’s 22nd Premier League game in charge of the club, and it marked the 16th time his team had been outshot by its opponent. Through those 22 matches, Arteta’s Arsenal have taken 42.8 percent of the shots. (All data via Stats Perform.) You can slide your finger across the x-axis on Grayson’s first graph above to get a sense of what kind of points total that performance typically produces. Here’s how Arsenal compare to all the other Big Five clubs since Arteta was hired. (Ignore the huge outliers on the edges; they’re newly promoted clubs.) Per Stats Perform:

    The best teams in the world are all in the upper-right. Meanwhile, the teams in the upper-left quadrant are the ones whose point totals are exceeding their shot shares by a historically unsustainable amount. Among the 108 clubs to play in the Big Five since Arteta took over, Arsenal rank 83rd in TSR but 25th in points per game.

    Focusing only on the Premier League, Arsenal sit 16th in TSR since Arteta’s hiring, ahead of Sheffield United, Newcastle, Burnley, two teams that were relegated (Norwich and Bournemouth), and two teams that were promoted and have only played two matches (Leeds and West Brom). Stats Perform data goes back to the 2008-09 Premier League season, and the record number of points for a team with a TSR of 42.8 percent or below is 56 — also known as Arsenal’s 2019-20 season. After that, Burnley hit 54 points twice — last season and 2017-18 — and Birmingham reached 50 in 2009-10. No other team in this cohort has reached the half-century point-mark. Expand the TSR up to 45 points to be a little more generous, and the record is Aston Villa’s 64 points in 09-10, but that tweak still only adds a Swansea, a West Ham, and a couple Stoke City campaigns to the 50-point cohort. Arsenal want to get back into the Champions League and eventually win the Premier League; the company they’re keeping here is closer to eventual relegation fodder.

    This isn’t to say that Arteta hasn’t had an effect on the way the team plays. The only teams that average more possession are the four teams that are competing in the Champions League for England this season. Same goes for the average number of passes and number of seconds they keep the ball per uninterrupted possession. They’re also taking the highest quality shots — xG per shot — of any team, but that’s mainly canceled out by the fact that they’re only averaging 9.6 attempts per game, more than just Sheffield, Bournemouth, and this year’s three promoted teams. (Their overall xG differential is 13th in the Premier League under Arteta.)

    Twenty-two games in, and Arteta has built a team that’s able to capably control extended possession and create a limited number of good chances from it, but despite having so much of the ball, they’ve been unable to create the raw total of chances necessary for a team of Arsenal’s ambitions. And despite their opponents not having much of the ball, they’ve been able to do what Arsenal have not, as the Gunners are conceding 12.9 shots per game under their new manager.

  12. Pierre

    Last night was an excellent performance against a very talented liverpool side that was made up of academy and experienced players, and they started the game with their most prolific scorer and their best defender.

    It shows that our squad has depth and it shows that the team can bounce back from a defeat.

    I’ll take boring wins atm, but there is a difference between boring wins where we are in control of the game and looking comfortable than a boring win where we concede double the amount of chances than the opposition….

    We need to move the needle a little on the XG as we are slipping back to where we were at this stage last season..

    And we know how that story ends.

  13. bacaryisgod

    Only surprise with Trump getting Covid-19 is that it took him so long. Now it completes the Big 3 bingo card of leaders who downplayed the seriousness of the virus and the need to wear masks. Trump’s lucky that he’ll have world-class care and overall treatment has improved because otherwise he would be totally screwed based on his age, obesity and sinus issues.

  14. Dream10

    If we’re going for a back three on Sunday, Gabriel has done enough to bench Tierney. The Scotsman was poor on Monday.

    Gabriel at LCB and Saka at LWB. Alternative is Saka at RW with Tierney at LWB.

    Would prefer Pépé Özil Saka three behind Aubameyang
    Won’t happen though.

    We’re desperate for offensive output.

  15. Red Army

    Azed what a shit article that is. Just because a team get ‘outshot’ doesn’t mean shit. If we are out scored then I might start taking you seriously.

    So speculative punts from outside the box are a reason to be pissed off and used against the manager and the set up?

    We aren’t wide open any more we’re difficult to beat and don’t give up a lot of big chances per game.

    I couldn’t give a fuck if we were ‘outshot’ of most of those shots are hit and hope which skew the number anyway.

    How many of those shots were actually dangerous? I guessing not even a quarter of them.

  16. Dream10

    Spurs signing Carlos Vinicius on loan as a backup #9 to Kane. Decent goal record for Benfica, not sure how good he is.

    Aouar and Partey still on the table.

  17. bacaryisgod

    Back to Arsenal, it’s going to be really interesting to see what we do when the window is closed and we might be stuck with a few players we don’t really need or want.

    -Torreira, Guendouzi, Sokratis are likely gone on loan at the very least

    -Ozil can’t be moved. Nothing on Chambers or Mustadi, which is unsurprising given their recent injuries.

    -Kolasinac looks like he’s staying because otherwise he might have sat out the Liverpool game.

    Still think Nelson needs to go on loan and possibly Willock too.

  18. andy1886

    Tierney has been one of our top three players of the last six months, one poor performance doesn’t change that. Gabriel is a CB, Tierney is a LB/LWB who can play as a CB if needed. No reason why Gabriel benches Tierney at all.

  19. Red Army

    Pierre I like what you post but to think we’re skipping back to last years standards is reaching a bit. We do need to find a better balance but that will come and I wasn’t expecting it to start at Anfield.

    Half the shot we face are speculative let’s be honest, not chances where we’re caught on the counter or are carved open time and time again like with emery.

  20. Batistuta


    A bit funny you’re saying now that you’ll take turgid football if it grinds out wins but you were saying for so long when it was a bit more fanciful and open and attacking that it wasn’t sustainable then because we kept getting out shot.

    Look I’m not at all being heavily critical of Arteta, love him to bits but my point still remains, if we don’t find a way to start creating more chances for our strikers, the bad results won’t be too far behind and we don’t want that. The manager has been here a while now so it’s not like he’s new to the job so he has to find a way and look at the squad he has by Monday and figure out how we can get the team to create more chances than we currently are doing notwithstanding the personnel he has, that’s his job.

    The stats read that our main striker has had no big chance created for him so far, that is not sustainable

  21. TR7

    I am a sucker for quality attacking football but strangely I still really admire how Mikel Arteta gets the most out of our squad by using pragmatic tactics. Arteta is the only reason I expect good results from Arsenal even against top teams. The guy is special, he really is.

  22. Red Army

    ‘ A bit funny you’re saying now that you’ll take turgid football if it grinds out wins but you were saying for so long when it was a bit more fanciful and open and attacking that it wasn’t sustainable then because we kept getting out shot.’

    There is clearly a plan now and if the football suffers a bit while we develop and evolve then so be it. We’re getting results and making progress.

    Before we didn’t have a plan before but now we have a manager getting results being resilient and hard to beat some people aren’t happy cos we ain’t winning 3 or 4 nil.

  23. Rosapirescastlesaka

    Got to be happy with that results, define character and confidence builder too .

    Leno, Holding, Gabriel,Willock,Saka,Xhaka, were all very good and will have grown in confidence and a stronger mentality after eeking out a win like that and gritting and battling with Liverpool, albeit it without their top players still a win .

    Eddie and Dani will have blown out some dirty diesel but now more is needed from them if they are to stake a claim .

    Pepe did some very good holdup play and was surprisingly aggressive at time i thought .
    it didnt come off for him, he didnt probably get the required support but was a good game for him to play in and get up to the tempo.
    There s a player in their and in his more advanced left side role , I can imagine Auba in the middle and Willan pulling inside from RW to give Auba and Pepe more space up top should work well .

    I was also impressed with Cedric , he was aggressive, tough and good distribution although he kicked a few long and tried to mimic Xhakas ball over the top, I think he s a good player to have around and reliable gent .

    Would have thought Reiss Nelson would have got a run out but probably means hes for a loan deal, hopefully Brighton or someone like that to give him game time but experience pressure of Preimer League, its all well and good dropping down to Championship and ripping it up but games against Preimer LEague opposition be better for his development .

  24. TR7

    My only limited criticism of Mikel is his team selection and his misplaced faith in a few players but apart from that he has been superb.

  25. Rosapirescastlesaka

    If Saliba goes Musti will have to stay . (not my choice just logic)
    Arteta doesnt trust Sok to play that role so unless he moves Hector into RCB or permantely keeps Tierney as LCB then he will have to keep Musti .

  26. azed

    From Orny

    Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster to sign for Sheffield United today. £23.5m, 15% sell-on clause, buyback option lasting 3 years.

    Hope we put the sell on clause and buy back option in the Martinez deal?

    How do other clubs sell fringe players for real money yet we can’t give away players for change?

  27. Daniel Altos

    I was happy to the win yesterday until I saw we have drawn fucking Man City ffs. Jeez,we have terrible luck on draws. I also saw our fixture list and after sheffield united it’s looking pretty tough for us this October fingers crossed we bring in some quality players. Big up to Leno, MoTm yesterday.

    Two things,I saw a while back people complaining that ceballos isn’t going forward enough and about Pepe probably being a flop. Honestly anyone watching the match yesterday saw that our frontline was feeding on scraps.I may be alone in this but I still think pepe ain’t a flop,we have a very disfunctional team and we need to have a clear transition of balls from midfield to our attack.Currently our only tactic is long ball from defence to the flanksand this isn’t sustainable.Am not calling for ozil(only saying we need that final 3rd midfielder) but let’s face it,when we was playing before the covid break,Pepe was starting further forward because there was no need to come very deep for the ball,which brings me to ceballos,let’s cut the guy some slack.After I watched the match yesterday,I came to the conclusion that ceballos can actually be a very good midfielder,he is just inhibited by xhaka,he continously has to cover for the guy. Even if we bring in Thomas and pair him with xhaka,we will still see the same problems

  28. Captain Tierney


    Liverpool are at the top of the football pyramid so most of their players are overvalued, even fringe players. Everyone knows they dont need to sell anyone to balance the books or sign new players. So in short whenever someone wants to do a deal with their players they hold all the cards.
    Brewster has been tipped to go to the very top for 2 years now at least. Had a very good loan last season and his contract has some time on it. + The English premium.

  29. Jim Lahey

    “Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster to sign for Sheffield United today. £23.5m”

    What the actual fuck is going on. We can’t move on Torreira or Guendouzi for more than £20m and Liverpool are selling fucking nobodies for close to £25m.. this has to be a joke.

  30. kristoman

    Bati, West Ham spanked Wolves the week after.

    Not sure anyone is praising what went on there though. Since then, we’ve beaten Leicester and Liverpool in the cup. Two sides everyone has down as much better than us.

    We’ll be pragmatic all season, because we have to be with the players we have. I’ll take it if it unlocks the money we need to find expansive attacking football. I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to Ozil to maybe play a little better.

    this is what emery was doing last year also with so many draws, the only difference is we win the cup matches with penalties. FYI there are no decider in league matches, so brace for a lot of draws this season just like the last one.

  31. kristoman

    sorry jamie
    bamford is not white knighting for emery rather he is pointing the hypocrisy of some poeple and pedro out here that what emery was castigated for doing is now actaully being used to praise the ALMIGHTY SAUCE. what a world

  32. kristoman

    emery was winning matches playing bland football with no philosophy at the beginning of its reign and was castigated a lot here. no philosophy they a say they say. now that arteta is doing the same, excuse upon excuse is being brandied about as if it was not the same players emery was using. now according to pedro, all that matters now is result. smhhh.

  33. kristoman

    There is clearly a plan now and if the football suffers a bit while we develop and evolve then so be it. We’re getting results and making progress.

    Before we didn’t have a plan before but now we have a manager getting results being resilient and hard to beat some people aren’t happy cos we ain’t winning 3 or 4 nil.

    really what is the plan? defend with your life and hit them on counter? is this not exactly what emery did at the beginning but you all said it is not sustainable? what has suddenly change. result? i don’t think so because emery was racking up numbers ’22 matches unbeaten right’? so what gives?

  34. Sid

    Going into Europa league and the chrismas period with this team will give Arsenal the same results as last season

    Im telling you for free!

  35. curse

    the Bosnian beast wasn’t totally shit yesterday, just a little bit shit. watching him lose the flight of the ball which resulted in him bamboozling himself, falling over and letting jota through was clown activity at its finest. Michelin star bozo.

  36. WinOrDie

    I ‘m inclined to think that with about 8 central defenders on our books most of whom are not attracting interest from other clubs (Mustafi,chambers,Kola,Socratis) yet we must offload some players to create room for the incoming ones is the reason why Saliba is being lined up for a loan move .