When we signed David Luiz from Chelski I think most of us immediately thought about his marauding ways, or his long ball distribution, I know I certainly did. But yesterday’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool brought back the other, more frustrating part to his game, which is the mindless stupidity that he sometimes delivers.
Firstly the shirt pull which was as blatant as you can imagine. I don’t know what it is but we seem to give away penalties every time we head to Anfield. He can have no complaints and at two nil down the game felt basically done. At one-nil there’s always a chance of a counter and we’d had a few chances through the game to score that we didn’t take, but when Luiz decided to cost us the game with his idiotic pull, we must have all known that yet another away day against the other members of the ‘big six’ was going to end in disappointment.
The horrendous run goes on. We have an away record against the big teams which is basically like that of a team who should be towards the bottom of the league every season. And once again I’m wondering whether there is just a psychological damage that is permanent there at the club. How else can you explain a run of not winning that stretches back to 2015? It’s pathetic and feels like we’re never going to get that monkey off our back at the moment.
Unai Emery picked a team which was at least bold on paper, but at times it just felt like a back three because the full backs tucked in and Guendouzi seemed to spend most of his time out wide right on the first half. Liverpool came at us, they got the ball out wide and pumped ball after ball in and up until Matip headed in the corner just before the halftime whistle, it felt like we’d ridden our luck but had at least not got hammered. Which is why the second goal and penalty was even more annoying, because before that we’d had chances. Auba nearly lofted the ball over the onrushing Adrian, Pepe was through on goal and should have done better, and unlike last season this Liverpool side gave us chances with their higher line and press. We just didn’t take them and in these big games you get punished.
Especially when you have the kind of defence we have.
It’s hard to pick out too many good performances. I thought Ceballos was fairly anonymous. Pepe had some good moments but that one-on-one should have resulted in a goal. He had a good chance which just curled wide in the first half too. Auba too had chances. But the back line looked shaky. As we’d probably expect. Luiz will get the stick and rightly so because of the penalty, but his pathetic attempt at closing down Salah only for the Egyptian to ghost past him, was also another example of one of those ‘bad days’ that we’ve seen Luiz have.
Yesterday evening was a reminder of how far we are from both Liverpool and City. The Tiny Totts skanked themselves a draw with the luck of VAR last weekend, but we weren’t as lucky yesterday, nor did we deserve to be.
Nobody really stepped up yesterday and against the best teams in the division you need to have at least nine of your outfield players having good games. I’m trying to think of one player who really stood out. Willock looked ok in small patches but he also gave the ball away. Maitland-Niles was the same and I’ve herd a lot of talk about him deposing Bellerin but unlike most players who always seem to get better in people’s minds when they are out injured, some people seem to be forgetting just how good Bellerin is. He really is. Having him and Tierney/Kolasinac back at full back will make us a very different proposition and I can’t wait to be honest with you.
It’s the first ‘L’ of the season and I don’t think it’ll be the last, but we have to pick ourselves up, because next weekend is the small matter of a North London Derby. We need to be able to put this weekend’s performance to the back of our minds. We need everyone to step up next weekend. We need to get back to winning ways.
Catch you all tomorrow.