Arsenal Vs Liverpool: Highlights and analysis from dastardly loss

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on August 27, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on August 27, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images) /

Arsenal travelled to Anfield in a crucial Premier League game on Sunday. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 4-0 loss.

Well that was sh*t. In one of the worst displays for many years, Arsenal were dismantled by a blistering Liverpool. Lacking any semblance of effort or desire, with Arsene Wenger maddeningly dropping Alexandre Lacazette, reinstating Alexis Sanchez in the starting line-up. It was a truly shocking performance, with not one player playing near their ability, and should be a sign that, predictably, nothing’s changed.

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The first half started in worrying fashion. Liverpool stroked the ball around with great confidence and assurance, while Arsenal, in predictably passive style, allowed their hosts to dictate play with such ease and effectiveness.

It was Liverpool who dominated the early stages and it was Liverpool who took the lead. The warning signs were there when Mohamed Salah snook in at the far post and saw his side-footed effort excellently blocked by Petr Cech after a neat one-two and low cross from Emre Can. But it was Roberto Firmino who was the man to ultimately break the deadlock.

With Arsenal sat worryingly deep, as the ball broke free to Joe Gomez on the left flank, with Hector Bellerin unwilling to close him down and try and block the cross, whipped a neat cross into the penalty area, Firmino drifted in between Laurent Koscielny and Rob Holding to glance a header past the outstretched Cech who could do little to simply palm the ball into the back of the net. It was a soft goal to concede and was indicative of their performance throughout the first period.

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As the game progressed and changed, the flow did not. Liverpool continued to dominate and Arsenal failed to have any semblance of control in midfield areas, in or out possession. Salah had the ball in the back of the net, but saw his effort ruled out for offside, Emre Can continued to marauding forwards from midfield, while Firmino’s subtle movement caused problems in and around the penalty area.

The inevitable second goal came towards the closing stages of the first half. As Arsenal lost the ball in the final third, Granit Xhaka, who was the worst player on the pitch by some distance, stupidly chased after it, trying to win it back. A quick pass around his advances exposed the Arsenal midfield and defence and set Liverpool up perfectly on the counter. Firmino played the ball wide to Saido Mane, who, after patiently waiting for the opportune moment, jinked inside of Rob Holding and fired a low shot past Cech and into the far bottom corner.

It was another soft goal to concede and was totally deserved. At the break, Liverpool could have been three or four goals to the good having utterly dominated their visitors. Changes were needed.

Changes came but change they did not bring. Wenger brought on Francis Coquelin and shifted to a 4-2-3-1 system, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain stationed as a natural winger and Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal playing as natural full-backs. But while there was an element of competitiveness that returned to the performance, it was still Liverpool that enjoyed all of the best chances, extending their lead with a third goal.

An Arsenal corner was cleared well with a thumping Joel Matip header. Hector Bellerin, the deepest defender, attempted to bring the ball down, only for Mohamed Salah to nick ahead of him and dart into the vacant Arsenal half. With time and space galore, Salah confidently drove forwards, composed himself, and slid a smart finish past Petr Cech off his left flank. It was a smart and confident finish but the orchestrators once more were Arsenal, and that is unacceptable.

Wenger threw the kitchen sink at Liverpool, bringing on Olivier Giroud and Alexandre Lacazette, but Arsenal created very little to speak of. In fact, if anything, it was Liverpool who looked more likely to score.

And Liverpool did score. Playing neatly out from the back, the ball was worked through to Emre Can in the midfield by Roberto Firmino, who spun and then progressed the play onto Salah in the wide left channel. Salah, taking his time to pick his pass, then played a delicious delivery into the box, with Daniel Sturridge, who had peeled off of the back of Laurent Koscielny, planting a header past Cech for the fourth and final goal.

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Gary Neville described the Arsenal performance as disgraceful. That might be being kind. I am struggling to recall a display as depressing as this. It seems as though the relentless repetition of disappointment and despair is never set to end. I have long been a traditional ‘Wenger In’ man. I am quickly beginning to doubt my stance.