The impetus was on Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal made the trip to Merseyside to take on Liverpool this weekend. The Chilean had turned down the chance to join the Anfield club in favour of the Gunners in the summer and was tipped to provide the difference when the two teams met for the first time this season.
It would have been symbolism at its very best had the £35 million man scored the winning goal after pressurising Steven Gerrard, who then slipped, gifting the opportunity like he so famously did against Chelsea. That would have summed up Liverpool's situation perfectly; so close yet still so far from success.
But in what was a heavy dose of mundane reality for Arsene Wenger, Sanchez could not provide the goods to grant Arsenal a vital win in the same ground they succumbed so emphatically just ten months ago. In fact it was very much the opposite as Sanchez, recently 26, put in what was probably his most disappointing performance so far.
Perfect game plan
Rather than scalding Sanchez for not trying hard enough or some other reason that lacks reason in favour of emotion, it would probably be wiser to applaud Brendan Rodgers and his Liverpool team for nullifying the threat with a well executed plan.
Liverpool's high pressure game has become something of a trademark since Rodgers took charge in 2012. It was the same tactics that allowed Liverpool to build a 4-0 lead after just 20 minutes against Arsenal in February.
While Arsenal were a lot more solid at the back this time around, the high pressure tactics helped to keep Sanchez on the periphery of the game. Taking a look at the screenshot below, you can see how the jampacked midfield gave Sanchez little room to express himself.
Free role traps him in
Sanchez has enjoyed a free role since joining from Barcelona in the summer where he usually starts out on the left, drops deep and moves inside to his heart's content. While that role has been fruitful for both Arsenal and the player so far, it was cut out by Liverpool players packing the area in which Sanchez likes to operate.
Sanchez's average position for the game against Liverpool was just in front of the opposition's centre circle where you can see that Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho and even Martin Skrtel, who was pushing higher up in an unusual back-three, were waiting.
As a result, Sanchez found himself surrounded by red shirts within seconds of receiving the ball. For a man who likes to take his time, the result was frustration. By the end of the game, Sanchez looked like he'd been through a meat processor.
Take a look at the player's individual highlights here
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