Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Six points to take from Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Arsenal

Six points to take from Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Arsenal
by rick olivares

Admit it. Whether you root for Arsenal or Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium that kicked off their respective 2016-17 Premier League seasons saw you run through the gamut of emotions.

There was a high, a mollifying low, then the flickering hope, following by near cardiac arrest.

That pretty much sums up Liverpool’s performance last season. A lot of teeth gnashing to start as they crashed under former manager Brendan Rogers and then some terrific highs under Jurgen Klopp including some sensation wins then a Jekyll and Hyde performance versus Villareal to close the door on the Europa League and any continental football this new season.

And that was on full display in that match against Arsenal that resulted in a 4-3 victory.

I came away with these six thoughts.

Liverpool seems to have cornered the market share on heart-stopping wins (and draws).
Last season there were those stunning goals to secure three points or draw level. There was Villareal, Borussia Dortmund, Norwich, Arsenal, and Chelsea to name a few.

For the 2016-17 season opener, Liverpool looked very poor in the first 30 or so minutes (although there were flashes of potential). Philippe Coutinho’s stunning equalizer (along with Simon Mignolet’s save from the spot) drew Liverpool level 1-1. I couldn’t wait for the half time locker room talk to see what adjustments would be made.

There were no substitutions that could have been a little bothersome but only served to prove that Klopp is a top coach. The Reds responded. Although they wavered for a spell or two, the 4-3 win is still massive.

With the Reds, it truly isn’t over until it’s over. 

So much for consistency.
You can say that it is the first game of the season, sure it is. But it isn’t like they didn’t play friendlies prior to the season premier. This team had the benefit of a full and proper pre-season under Klopp which they didn’t have last year. Sure they brought in a lot of new players so the system might not be running smoothly. But it was the veterans who were actually lackluster. 

My thinking was what Liverpool is — at least for the match — they are still consistently inconsistent. 

Woeful for much of the first 30 minutes as the midfield couldn’t get going while defensively they were shaky. None more shaky that Alberto Moreno who started at left back. The Spaniard committed a foul that Theo Wolcott was unable to convert (thanks to a great Simon Mignolet save) but later was culpable during another Wolcott run that saw Arsenal score first.

Some concern here. if you saw many of Liverpool’s goals from last season, they came from brilliant one-touch passing. In the first half against Arsenal and part of the second half where they lost the plot again, they succumbed to excessive dribbling, trying to break down a gaggle of defenders one-on-one, the lack of awareness of defenders trying to tackle them or poke the ball away from behind, and a lack of field vision where instead of moving the ball to the other side of the filed to decongest the defense, the Reds on many an occasion persisted. 

Am not a fan of Jordan Henderson playing Steven Gerrard’s role as a deep lying midfielder who would control the ball movement because for one, he isn’t as fast or an accurate passes than Gerrard from that area. Henderson looks more comfortable playing up higher. As does Emre Can.

Am a little surprised here because strengths and weaknesses of players should be pointed out before the season and  the roles defined. Kind of disappointed with this.

Defending is still a problem.
Dejan Lovren reverted back to his old self under Brendan Rogers. Alberto Moreno was a disaster and a penalty waiting to happen. Nathaniel Clyne who is usually reliable saw Alexander Oxlade-Chamberlain tie him into knots with a superb run from the left against — what — four Liverpool defenders for a goal. 

It was newcomer Ragnar Klavan (who last played for FC Augsburg who they played in the Europa League) who was rock solid on defense. The 30-year old Estonian showed nerves of steel and a level head. I don’t think he made a mistake defensively. 

When they press they cause problems to the opposition.
Liverpool came out and pressured Arsenal to start the second half. Unlike in the first where the Gunners looked comfortable spraying passing all around, early in the second half they were sending the ball back to try and open up the field of play.

The pressing saw Liverpool not only dispossess Arsenal of the ball but gave them fits defensively. That turned things around in a hurry.

I wonder though how they can be consistent with this style of play. With no European football this season, they’ll have plenty of rest.

They can light up it.
Four goals in the season opener? They could have had more if Lallana and Firmino finished properly. Early last season, this was a team that was starved for goals. When Klopp took over, play, although inconsistent, improved. So did the scoring. If they can keep most of the squad healthy, if they press consistently their opponents into oblivion, they’ll lead the league in scoring.

The newcomers played well.
I’ll say this, Sadio Mane had probably the most impressive debut for a Liverpool player.  That run, that goal -- that was freaking impressive! He slalomed right through the heart of Arsenal's defense and put Peter Cech to the sword. 

Based on the early goings and judging by his creativity, it looks like we have the heir to Luis Suarez. And it's good to see another weapon to join Divock Origi, Daniel Sturridge, and Christian Benteke up front.

Klavan was all right too. 

Next up, Burnley, as the reds play their second consecutive match on the road. It won’t be until they play Leicester City on September 11 do they finally play a match in the renovated Anfield Stadium (four games on the road including League Cup matches).

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