Liverpool – Arsenal: Emery’s plan backfires as the Liverpool siege wears Arsenal down (3-1)
Unai Emery, already known for his tactical experiments in big games at Arsenal, once again attempted to pull a rabbit out of the hat in this weekend’s big-six clash. Instead, what he pulled out was, yet again, nothing. The application of an untried diamond system proved costly, albeit survivable thanks to Liverpool’s relatively cautious approach.
Tactical analysis and match report by Peter M.
Despite the fact that his side has come under greater pressure than they would have liked at the start of this season – particularly with their seemingly higher line giving up more chances – Jürgen Klopp only made a couple of minor changes in midfield from the trio that faced Southampton a week ago; James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were replaced by Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.
Emery went hell for leather with his changes. Last week’s 4-2-3-1 setup was transformed into a 4-diamond-2 shape for this one, with Nicolas Pépé being given his full debut. In came Granit Xhaka at the base of the midfield, also, as Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson were the two sacrificed from the side that beat Burnley last weekend.
Immediate defensive issues for Arsenal
Of all the tactical adjustments Emery has made for big games in the past, this one seemed to leave Arsenal the most exposed of them all.
Unlike in compact diamonds where the midfield and attack work as a unit to pressure one side intensely, so to prevent opponents from exploiting the narrowness of their shape, Arsenal did no such thing. With the strikers too high, Dani . . .