Abysmal Arsenal surrender at Liverpool

The 'Wenger Out' chants return as Arsenal lose again

Sunday, 27th August 2017 — By Richard Osley

Arsene Wenger

FA Premier League
LIVERPOOL 4 (Firmino 17, Mané 40, Salah 57, Sturridge 77)

IMAGINE, just for a moment, that every single pundit is wrong about Arsenal and what they should do next. They are, after all, just ex-pros with loud mouths and big ties. Imagine all the football columnists are wrong. But imagine all the rival fans outside looking in are wrong too. And imagine all of the large share of Arsenal fans who have long lost belief in the current set-up at the club are wrong too. Imagine virtually everyone is wrong, and one man is right, Arsene Wenger. After an abject afternoon at Anfield, it all seems quite a stretch, doesn’t it, for a club which styles itself as glory-getters and potential title contenders.

Even some of the manager’s loyalists were looking baffled by the tactics, strategy and even the team selection as the two new additions to the club which failed to qualify for the Champions League last season, Alexandre Lacazette and Saed Kolasinac, were left on the substitutes’ bench.  Rob Holding was preferred to World Cup winner Skhrodan Mustafi, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain kept his place despite more or less publicly saying he wanted to leave when he refused a new contract and a pay rise on Friday. You would do well to find anybody with even a passing interest in what happens to Arsenal who would have picked that first eleven and formation.

There is a dispute about who defined insanity as doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result, but the Gunners were rolled off the pitch at Liverpool, similar to the hiding they had in the fixture here last season. The tragedy of it all, then, was that there was no surprise to what unfolded. Dejected and talking of how he could not “relate” to the current team, Thierry Henry in the Sky studio said he’d seen this movie before.

The fact Jurgen Klopp was available for hire for any big club looking to renew itself not so long ago, but is reforming Liverpool and not Arsenal might just make that perennial disappointment worse. That said, while Liverpool will take plaudits for their apparent ruthlessness this afternoon, there may not be a match all season where their players will get this softball treatment and the space to pick their passes. They should probably have scored more as Arsenal struggled throughout, gifting one opportunity after another to their hosts.

Defenders gave away the ball in dangerous areas, while the central pairing of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka bombed so badly that Ramsey was withdrawn at halftime. There were times when you would have been forgiven for thinking Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, among those Arsenal players apparently haggling for pay rises and transfers, had been withdrawn too.

Roberto Firminio began the scoring on 17 minutes by heading past Petr Cech after being left alone in the box to convert Joe Gomez’s cross. Cech had already saved dramatically from Mohammed Salah minutes earlier. There were quickly chances for a second as Liverpool took advantage of the generous space in the middle of the pitch. Sadio Mané was the man who finally got it, capping a simply breakaway – aided by more Arsenal sloppiness – by cutting past Rob Holding and curling into the far corner.

The third was the worst. Arsenal had a corner of their own, which was headed away. Hector Bellerin, the last man, made a hash of his control, and Salah was free to run through for a one on one against Cech. He slotted it away with Bellerin raging his fists in the air at his howler. Later on Daniel Sturridge headed in a fourth. The scoreline wasn’t an unfair on Arsenal.

“There are some reasons for this we have to analyse,” said Wenger afterwards, before decling to talk about the travelling support who had left chanting for him to go once more.

LIVERPOOL: Karius, Moreno, Gomez, Lovren, Matip, Henderson. Wijnaldum, Can (Grujic 84), Mané (Sturridge 77), Firmino (Milner 80), Salah
Subs not used: Alexander-Arnold, Ward, Klavan, Solanke

ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Monreal, Koscielny, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lacazette 62), Xhaka, Ramsey (Coquelin HT), Ozil, Sanchez (Giroud 62), Welbeck
Subs not used: Mustafi, Ospina, Kolasinac, Walcott

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