The final whistle blew and the referee signalled the end of another exciting Premier League match. Perhaps you were busy chanting for your favorite team or betting on the game’s outcome. Whatever the case, you were undoubtedly glued to your TV set, racing to make the right predictions for this match.
And here’s the problem: despite all the excitement of the game, you probably don’t actually know how the match went. More specifically, you don’t know how individual players performed and what impact their results may have had on the outcome of the game.
This is what this article is all about. Before the match started, you may have guessed who the favorites were. You may have heard that Liverpool were heavy favorites to beat Arsenal and that Tottenham were not expected to pose much of a threat to Chelsea. Well, let’s take a look at how things played out.
Arsenal’s Strong Attacker
Arsenal didn’t disappoint their fans. They scored early on and often. However, despite leading by a score of 2-0 at the break, they weren’t able to put the game beyond doubt. Liverpool pulled one back and, at 3-1 down, Arsenal were lucky to still be in the game. It’s fair to say that, at this point, many Arsenal fans were questioning the team’s tactics.
It was clear that the Gunners had chosen to play an attacking game. They scored early on and often, hoping that this would either put the score beyond the reach of the opposing team or, at least, provide some entertainment value. In the end, it was probably both. The entertaining aspect of the game was somewhat ruined by the grim reality of a 0-3 loss. This was the difference between a 2-1 and 3-1 scoreline. Nevertheless, there were still a lot of positives to take from the game.
This is because, even though Arsenal started the match in an attacking manner, they were smart enough to know when to slow the game down. They knew that they would need a defensive display to keep a clean sheet. And, as it happened, they did just that. They kept a clean sheet and even managed to restrict Liverpool to only one shot on goal. Overall, this was a good display of composure and smarts on the part of the Arsenal players. These are the qualities that you look for in a leader. And Per Mertesacker certainly proved himself to be the Arsenal player everyone wanted to follow during the game.
Liverpool’s Solid Defensive Line
As we’ve established, Liverpool didn’t disappoint their fans. They played a solid defensive match and restricted Chelsea to only two shots on goal. This was, essentially, another perfect defensive display from the players. A couple of questionable calls aside, it was an uneventful game for Liverpool. And that’s exactly what they wanted. They knew that, with both teams playing tight, defensive football, the result would be close and, perhaps, even go in the direction of a draw. So, for the neutral fans, this was yet another game that proved that both teams can still play beautiful football, even though the game is generally considered to be a low-scoring affair. Beautiful football is, after all, what this article is all about.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Dominance In The Midfield
Spurs dominated the midfield. They controlled the game and the ball. This was, perhaps, the clearest demonstration yet of the power of the formation that Pochettino has used to maximum effect. The key is in the fact that, for the most part, the midfielders created the opportunities to score. It wasn’t pretty football, but it was effective. And this is what matters.
For the most part, the midfielders pressed high up the pitch. They closed down the space between the ball and the area opposing teams try to break into. It forced the opposition to play long, diagonal balls into space. And when the midfielder won the ball, his team-mates were there to support him, creating a numerical advantage. As a result, chances of scoring were greatly increased. To put it simply, if you want to score, it’s best to play against Tottenham. They’ll give you plenty of opportunities to do so.
Chelsea’s Midfielder-less Line
Chelsea had a nightmare. It started with Diego Costa suffering a horrific injury. He was replaced by Cesar Azpilicueta, who went on to score a memorable goal. This was followed by a series of defensive mistakes that eventually led to Liverpool’s second goal. This was a nightmare scenario for Frank Lampard. He didn’t have many options to choose from and, as a result, played an incredibly poor match. Lampard is a great player and he’s still going strong at the age of 40. But he’s not the same player he was 15 years ago. He doesn’t have the natural flair or imagination that he used to have. Overall, a terrible match for Chelsea. An embarrassing match. Lampard, in particular, performed so badly that he actually cost his team more than once. The first time this happened was in the 87th minute, when Azpilicueta played a ball across the face of the defense, where it was quickly picked up by a Liverpool player. This was followed by a quick counterattack that ended with the home side scoring a third goal. It was a sad moment for one of England’s greats. And it wasn’t just the result of the game that was ugly. The build-up to the game was also incredibly poor. Lampard was one of a number of big names who were booed by his own fans. This is a far cry from the glory days when Chelsea were a fortress and Lampard was one of the premier players in the world. He hasn’t been the same player since Costa’s injury. And this article bears that in mind.
Even so, there were still a lot to take from this game. Azpilicueta’s goal was fantastic. It took a brilliant piece of skill to control the ball with one touch, before shooting with the other. The goal was extremely impressive and it showed just how well the 28-year-old has adapted to playing in his more natural position as a center back. As we’ve established, this was a clear mismatch. Liverpool were the better team and deserved to win. Nevertheless, there were still a lot to take from this game. Especially, if, like us, you want to see more exciting football played and enjoyed by all.