Rating the Arsenal Players Against Liverpool

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

Rating the Arsenal Players Against Liverpool

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    Arsenal must be a fantastic team to watch for the neutrals.

    For the supporters, it's torture.

    This game was typically Arsenal in many respects: They could well have lost, should maybe have won, were breathtaking going forward and dreadful in defence.

    Over the next few slides, we break it down and analyse the individuals on show for the Gunners.


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    GK Wojciech Szczesny (7/10)

    Wojciech Szczesny must wonder what he did in a previous life to deserve the fate of playing behind this Arsenal defence.

    To the Pole's credit, he offered up some resistance to Liverpool's attack, which is more than can be said for the players in front of him, and he can count himself a little unfortunate on both of Liverpool's goals.

    With most troublesome defences, you'd expect the goalkeeper to step up and help organise the back four. Szczesny, however, is unusually young for a Premier League keeper, and thus doesn't have the requisite experience to take on that role.

    He needs more protection from his defence.

    DR Bacary Sagna (5/10)

    Bacary Sagna's recent dip in form is as difficult to explain as it is to watch.

    His early slip allowed Luis Suarez in to score Liverpool's opener, and the slippery Suarez gave Sagna a torrid time throughout the first half.

    However, Sagna fought back and in the second half provided a constant outlet for Arsenal on the right-flank.

    That said: The Frenchman needs to improve his crossing. With a dangerous target like Olivier Giroud in the box, Arsenal cannot afford to waste so many opportunities to get the ball in to the penalty area.

    CB Per Mertesacker (4/10)

    The pacy pair of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez are a nightmare combination for the ponderous German to face, and Per Mertesacker won't want to remember this game in a hurry.

    It's telling that the usually immaculate defender was booked in this game. He simply couldn't keep pace with the movement around him.

    His passing was also inaccurate, and could have cost us Arsenal further goals.

    CB Thomas Vermaelen (4/10)

    Vermaelen is a conundrum. He clearly has all the physical and technical gifts required of a top class centre-half, yet is so often let down by basic positional lapses.

    He was arguably culpable in some capacity on both Liverpool goals.

    At a time when Arsenal's defence badly needs reorganising, they ought to be able to turn to their skipper to help see them through. At the moment, however, Vermaelen's form makes him one of the worst offenders.

    With Kieran Gibbs now injured, perhaps another spell at left-back beckons for Vermaelen.

    DL Kieran Gibbs (6/10) 

    Kieran Gibbs had little opportunity to make an impact before he departed after 37 minutes with a calf injury.


    LW Andre Santos (4/10) 

    The Arsenal fans were nervous when they saw Andre Santos preparing to take Gibbs' place on the field, and with good reason: The Brazilian patently lacks both form and fitness.

    He had a torrid time against Stewart Downing, and should have done more to prevent Jordan Henderson bursting in to the box for Liverpool's second goal. 

    That said, I would urge Arsenal fans to reign in their fury. Santos is becoming a lightning conductor for the broader frustrations of the fans. Is it his fault that Arsene Wenger signed him, or continues to pick him?

    The boos and jeers don't seem likely to improve his performances any time soon.


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    CM Aaron Ramsey (6/10)

    Against West Ham and Brighton, Aaron Ramsey had a couple of decent games in defensive midfield.

    However, he is not suddenly going to transform in to Claude Makelele, just as he is not able to emulate Theo Walcott when playing wide. In this game, Ramsey's deployment as a holding midfielder left Arsenal's back four far too exposed.

    Arsenal need a specialist in this position. They have one day of the transfer window left to try and find one.

    CM Jack Wilshere (8/10)

    We are running out of superlatives for Wilshere. To be consistently the best player in a midfield that also contains someone with the sheer talent of Santi Cazorla is a remarkable achievement.

    In this game, Wilshere was at his effervescent best, providing the driving force from the centre of the pitch, and creating Giroud's goal with a lovely lofted free-kick.

    Without him, I don't know if Arsenal would have salvaged anything.

    AM Santi Cazorla (7/10)

    Santi Cazorla looked a little tired in this game.

    When what he attempted came off, it was invariably good, but too often tonight's passes went astray or dribbled in to dead ends.

    The return from injury of Tomas Rosicky should offer Cazorla a breather every now and again. It could prove invaluable as the season's crux approaches.


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    RW Theo Walcott (8/10)

    Theo Walcott's finish in this match was that of a player who is riding on the crest of a wave at the moment.

    His crisp strike took his tally for the season to 18. If he carries on at this rate, he can hold realistic aspirations of reaching the 30-goal mark.

    He gave Glen Johnson problems throughout the game. As right-footed left-back, Johnson struggled with a player with electric pace who was constantly going outside him on his weaker side. Walcott knew this, and exploited it to full effect.

    CF Olivier Giroud (9/10)

    Another game and another goal for Olivier Giroud, whose adaptation to English football continues apace.

    In this match, he presented an all-round threat to Liverpool: energetic in his running, powerful in the air, and threatening with the ball at his feet. He also set up Walcott's strike with a typically cushioned touch.

    The one blight on his record was when he failed to make contact with Lukas Podolski's late cross. Had he done so, then Arsenal could well have won this game.

    LW Lukas Podolski (7/10)

    Podolski will be pleased to have another 90 minutes under his belt. Until recently, he rarely seemed to make it to the final whistle without being withdrawn.

    It wasn't his most spectacular performance, and he passed up one presentable opportunity to short, but he was his usual busy self on the left-hand side.

    What did you make of Arsenal's players against Liverpool?  Have your say below.