Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker has admitted that the team failed to perform up to expectations during Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Liverpool. The Gunners were at sea for most of the first half, and despite a marginally better second half performance we were completely at the mercy of a rampaging Liverpool midfield. Somehow we found ourselves in the lead despite having the lowest possession figures of the season so far but a late, late equalizer by the 10 men of Liverpool turned the game into a draw.
36 percent possession for a team that prides itself on its possession play is a horrible statistic, and it was only due to Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal that the game was not over by half time. They finally broke the deadlock seconds before half time but Debuchy equalised from a set piece within moments to send us in level. In the second half, we finally managed to mount a few attacks of our own and it paid off as Giroud slotted in to give us the lead. And we held on until the dying moments before, yet again, conceding late via a set piece goal. It was a similar outcome to when we had played Manchester City at the Emirates a few months ago and watching the team against the Reds made me feel that we have stagnated since then, apart from maybe Sanchez and Cazorla no player seems to be capable of seizing the game and making a telling contribution.
Our stand in captain Per Mertesacker took the brunt of the blame from the fans after appearing to move out of the way of Skrtel when he scored the equalizer for Liverpool. The BFG, who had been far from his usual dominant self throughout the game, later admitted that the performance left much to be desired and that both he and the team could have done better.
If you remember last year we had a very different performance to what we had today. We tried to stop Raheem Sterling going through on the back four with his speed. We didn’t find our own game.
We realised we had to stick together and find space [and knew] if we got chances in the second half we could have scored. We did and then we tried to defend in the last minute, which we did but not as good as I thought [we could have].
Overall we have to take responsibility for our game – we want to dictate but we were on always on the back foot. I’m not really pleased with the performance but we take the point now and we’re looking forward to December 26.
We have to dig in now and try to beat QPR. When you compare [the 2-2 draw] to last year, this is a much better result, but I’m not very pleased with our performance. We can do much better and we have to find it.
While admittedly this was a better performance when compared to last season’s 5-1 thrashing that was more due to Liverpool rather than our defensive skills. Without the strikeforce of Suarez and Sturridge the Reds have looked lacking all season and based on the number of opportunities they created yesterday they could easily have repeated that scoreline if they had taken their chances in front of goal.
Either way, the game is done and we will have to be satisfied with a point. Now, on to the 26th and QPR. The Rangers are the most unsettled team in the League this year, and we need a strong victory in that game to ease some of the psychological pressure on the team.