It’s been the same story from Liverpool and Arsenal all season. To become Premier League champions, both teams lack the consistency needed not only in their results, but also in their performances on the pitch.
Saturday was another perfect example as both teams underwhelmed against opposition they should have beaten.
The moment Arsenal stepped into the player’s tunnel at the Riverside, the Gunners didn’t seem mentally prepared for the match. By their body language you could see that the Arsenal players weren’t treating this game or their opponents very seriously. Cesc Fabregas was smiling and laughing, partly to get rid of the pre-match jitters I’m sure, but you couldn’t see that determination in the faces of the young Gunners.
And when Arsenal began playing, Middlesbrough were the ones who created most of the earlier chances until Emmanuel Adebayor slotted in the opening goal against the run of play. Middlesbrough later equalized in a game where they deserved to share the points, never giving up and continually pressuring Arsenal whenever they received the ball. And don’t forget, this was a very makeshift Middlesbrough defense. The advantage was definitely in Arsenal’s favor, but they failed to capitalize on it.
Arsenal’s performance, yet again, was extremely disappointing. They seemed lacklustre. The players weren’t playing the brand of football we’re usually accustomed to watching. And Boro looked the better team during spells of this match.
That’s what is so frustrating about Arsenal. One week they’re beating Chelsea and Manchester United, and another week they’re playing without the passion, enthusiasm and determination that they should be. They’re a flat-track bully, only in reverse.
Liverpool often play with that same type of blase attitude on the pitch. Whether it’s their second half performance against Hull City or in several other matches this season, Liverpool are flat too often. They lack the spark and lack those forceful and persistent volleys of attacks against sides where the opposition simply wilts under the pressure. Instead, you see Liverpool playing nonchalant football on the pitch except for the last five minutes of a game where, all of a sudden, they realize that they need to win it so the speed and tenacity of their play increases. Unfortunately Steven Gerrard can’t bail Liverpool out every week.
Granted, Hull City are a far stronger team that Middlesbrough, and Liverpool had to work harder than Arsenal to get the one point. But if Liverpool has any hopes of winning the Premier League, both their performances and results – especially at home – need to improve significantly.
We’ll get to see whether Arsenal or Liverpool can regain their form when both clubs face each other this Sunday at the Emirates Stadium.
What do you think? And what can Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez do to get their teams psychologically motivated to play games against lesser opposition with the same tenacity they do against the Big Four? Click the comments link below and let us know.