3 reasons why Arsenal lost to Liverpool
Arsenal succumbed to their first defeat of the season at the hands of Liverpool in Anfield. Though the side fielded by Unai Emery was far superior to the ones in previous seasons, the result remained unchanged.
However, every travelling Arsenal fan would have left Anfield with a pile of positivity and a heap of hope for the rest of the season. It was encouraging to see Arsenal defend with such vigour during the first quarter of the match. Even when their tackles were ineffective, they ensured to get bodies behind the ball to support their keeper.
It was hard to see Arsenal keeping a clean sheet against a team with such relentless attack. Liverpool's front three - Mane, Salah and Firmino - kept knocking on Arsenal's door, until the resolve of the defense was broken.
The home team scored a goal during the dying minutes of the first half from a corner that was met by a thunderous header from Joel Matip. They followed it up with two goals in the second half from their talismanic striker Mohamed Salah. The first of the two came from a well taken penalty, while the second was finished in clinical fashion.
Arsenal did score a consolation goal during the last few minutes of the match to give their fans something to cheer about. Lucas Torreira took advantage of a fortunate break to hammer home a goal of decent quality.
In the end, it was an improved performance by an Arsenal team, who have every right to feel dejected at an all too familiar result. It wasn't that Arsenal deserved to win or even draw the match, but realization of how far they are from mounting a serious challenge for the Premier League will leave them crestfallen.
Here's a look at 3 reasons that brought about Arsenal's loss to potential Premier League champions, Liverpool.
Same old, same old - A disastrous defense
What can be said about Arsenal's defense? Ever since Kolo Toure and Sol Campbell left the gunners, their defense has been in shambles.
The acquisition of David Luiz was one that was absolutely necessary to fill the void left by the exit of Laurent Koscielny. But, even when Emery sanctioned his purchase, he must have known that Luiz comes with a tag of being a defender who does not enjoy defending.
Given a chance, Luiz would prefer to play further ahead, maybe in the role of Xhaka, which was evident in abandonment of responsibility when he forayed forward to win a header that should have been contested by a defensive midfielder. This left the door open for Salah to score his second goal of the match. His hand in gifting Salah his first goal was more shocking than the first for an experienced defender like him.
When Firmino played an astute through-ball to Salah, Luiz's instant reaction was to tug at his shirt. In today's game, there is no room for such silly mistakes. Even if the referee misses it, VAR is sure to review it and award a penalty.
Sokratis was no wall for Arsenal either. He was terrible on the night, which isn't surprising considering his appalling performances in matches gone by.
Liverpool scored their first goal through a corner, which could have been avoided if Sokratis had attacked the ball instead of holding on to Van Dijk's jersey. Even if Matip had missed the header, VAR would have awarded a penalty for the blatant obstruction on the Dutch defender.
The problem is more deep set than the incompetence of Sokratis and the unpredictability of Luiz.
The heart of the problem lies in an owner who looks upon the club as a way to accumulate wealth through cutting corners, rather than bringing them back to the pinnacle of football in Europe. As long as there is a scarcity of funds to bring in a strong defender like Van Dijk to the Emirates, Arsenal's defensive problems will never be overcome.
Success in the long run - A budding team
Yesterday's disheartening result can be viewed as a stepping stone to success. Even Klopp's Liverpool and Guardiola's Manchester City did not do extremely well during the first couple of seasons. It takes time to build a team of individuals who can understand each other's game and play to their strengths. Moreover, managers also need time to assess their most competent players and field the best starting 11.
This was very evident in yesterday's team selection, which saw the omission of Alexandre Lacazette. He has been Arsenal's most accomplished striker, backed by his superior hit rate, though Aubameyang has scored more goals.
Dani Ceballos seemed a shade of his impressive self in the win against Burnley. The pace of the game seemed to rattle his nerves as he made some horrendous passes in Arsenal's penalty box. He did not recover from the damage that this inflicted on his confidence and was a mere observer for much of the game.
Bellerin and Tierney - The missing links
The absence of an accomplished right back and Monreal's lack of pace was evident in yesterday's loss. Arsenal were playing with a close-knit midfield, which allowed players like Alexander Arnold and Robertson to run into space and whip crosses from either side. This could have been avoided if Arsenal had speedy wing backs.
It would have also assisted them in attack as these players could have supported the midfield by making forward runs. The lack of pace in Monreal and Maitland Niles, to an extent, hindered them from advancing into Liverpool's half. This gave Liverpool the license sustain their attack until Arsenal's defense fell apart.