Roberto Firmino can be a superstar, Aaron Ramsey times his runs like Frank Lampard and other things we learned from Liverpool 3 Arsenal 3
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Giroud is big man for big occasion
One of the accusations levelled at the big Frenchman is that he saves his best for the middling and weaker teams. Big players perform on the big occasions, and, with Arsenal struggling in the face of an early Liverpool whirlwind, this was a perfect opportunity to silence the doubters. It is time to appreciate what a fine striker Giroud has become for Arsenal. He leads the line, holds the ball up to bring others into play, brushes off knocks – he had his head stapled after setting up the Gunners’ opener – and scores important goals. Giroud’s first goal was a tap-in and he missed the sitter of the season soon after but his second showcased the 29-year-old’s strengths. With his back to goal, he left Mamadou Sakho for dead with a Bergkamp-esque touch before swivelling and banging an unsaveable shot into the far corner. That’s 18 goals for the season for Giroud, including 12 in his last 11 away matches. Flat-track bully? Nonsense.
Can is Liverpool’s most important midfielder
Watching the German run the show against the league leaders it is hard to believe that he only turned 22 on Tuesday. Emre Can has emerged as Liverpool’s most important midfielder during Klopp’s reign. He was outstanding in the first half as he pressed relentlessly, found space to ping the ball about and assisted Firmino’s opener with an outstanding strike. With his energy, power, technique and excellent passing range, he has all the attributes to develop into the team’s key midfielder over the next five years.
Ramsey is best goal-scoring midfielder in Premier League
The beard has gone. And the goals are back. The two are probably unrelated but footballers are a superstitious bunch and it is safe to assume Ramsey will remain clean shaven for the foreseeable future. Ramsey’s fabulously timed run for Arsenal’s first equaliser was only matched by the brilliance of the snap finish. Frank Lampard, eat your heart out. Since Santi Cazorla’s injury allowed Ramsey to reclaim his favourite central midfield position, the Welshman has showed signs of returning to the form that made him one of the Premier League’s best players two seasons ago. He now has four goals in little over a month, a record most strikers would be proud of.
Firmino can be a superstar
The Brazilian was electrifying in the opening period. His first goal demonstrated his excellent technique and the second showcased his talent for the spectacular. Who needs a striker when your false nine can deliver moments of such jaw-dropping quality. Roberto Firmino faded in the second half but his touch, awareness and ability to find space proved that Klopp was right to once again go without a recognised striker in a marquee match. His next aim must be to find some consistency.
Benteke must shape up or ship out
Another big match and another demotion to the substitute’s bench for Christian Benteke. Despite scoring matchwinning goals against Leicester and Sunderland over the festive period, and despite Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings all sidelined through injury, Benteke was overlooked, just as he was in the League Cup semi-final against Stoke eight days ago. The Belgian paid the price for too many static displays in which he failed to dovetail with the attacking midfielders behind. He came off the bench for the last 30 minutes tonight and looked off the pace until he won the header that set up Joe Allen for the late equaliser. Klopp wants more movement and mobility from his front man and is willing to go without an established striker if he does not get it.