Arsenal 0 Liverpool 0: How Arsenal could have broken the deadlock and beaten Liverpool

ANALYSIS: We've teamed up with Sports Interactive, the makers of Football Manager, to re-run one of the weekend's key games to see how the losers might have prevailed had they done things differently

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The Independent Football

Arsenal were left the more frustrated of the two teams after their match with Liverpool on Monday night ended 0-0. Both sides had periods of domination, but the Gunners also saw an Aaron Ramsey goal wrongfully ruled out for offside. Here, we take a look at what Arsene Wenger might have done differently to win all three points.

THE RE-RUN

With Liverpool's formation remaining the same, Sports Interactive simulated the game over again with various Arsenal line-ups and tactics until it produced an alternative result.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Line-up: Cech, Debuchy, Chambers, Gabriel, Monreal, Ramsey, Coquelin, Sanchez, Özil, Cazorla, Giroud (CHANGES FROM ACTUAL LINE-UP: Debuchy in for Bellerin, Ramsey moved to centre midfield, Sanchez switched to the right and Cazorla to the left of midfield)

Final score: Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool (Scorers: Giroud, Sanchez)

Arsenal’s attacking strength proves too much for Liverpool with Alexis Sanchez providing the Emirates faithful with another virtuoso performance. The Chilean is at the heart of everything that Arsenal produce, dropping deep to collect the ball before attempting dribbles through the Liverpool defence and frequently trying his luck in front of goal. He covers more ground, completes more passes and makes more key passes than any player on the pitch to easily clinch the Man of the Match award.

Sanchez is able to exploit the width afforded to him by Liverpool’s 4-3-3 formation and their back four are often left exposed against the Chilean. Sanchez completes five dribbles into the box during the course of the match, the majority of which feature him cutting inside from the right wing.

 

Arsenal’s goals are near identical and see Ramsey, Cazorla and Özil linking up to feed in Giroud and then Sanchez. The opener, after thirty-seven minutes, starts with a hopeful cross-field ball from Ramsey to Cazorla. The diminutive Spaniard holds the ball up for the onrushing Özil who slips the ball across goal for Giroud to fire home. Their second follows five minutes after the restart and is the result of another triangle of passes between Cazorla, Ramsey and Özil. It’s Cazorla’s ball into the box that finds Sanchez who curls home.

With Koscielny and Mertesacker both missing for the Gunners, Arsenal are less than solid at the back and Cech is called upon to pull off a string of important saves, including denying Benteke and Firmino when they are one-on-one. Benteke is able to regularly outmuscle and outpace his way past Chambers and Gabriel and Cech does a superb job of limiting the danger of the rebound by tipping four efforts out of play and holding onto another five saves.

Benteke is Liverpool’s brightest attacking threat with five shots on target but Firmino catches the eye too with three key passes and a sixty-five per cent pass completion rate. Arsenal’s control of the midfield and of possession (Arsenal enjoyed a total of sixty-three per cent of possession) restricts Liverpool to a long ball strategy for large periods of the game as Rodgers tries to capitalise on Benteke’s aerial presence and ability.

Arsenal are able to wind the tempo of the game down over the course of the last ten minutes and are rarely troubled at the back during this period as they wrap up the three points to the delight of the home crowd.

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