It was expected, I mean, did anyone foresee anything other than a Liverpool win?
I certainly didn’t, and neither did the vast majority of Arsenal supporters. That said though, there have been quite a few who’ve jumped the gun somewhat and lavished the side with praise just two (OK) games into the season.
Liverpool at Anfield though, is a different kettle of fish to Burnley and Newcastle.
What has been one of the notable facets of the Reds’ games at Anfield have been the blistering pace from which they start matches.
“The result means we’re not happy today, but we can be optimistic for another situation.”
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 24, 2019
Kicking off like a house on fire, they have the ability to blitz sides within minutes right from the off and, as history has told us, that poignantly always includes Arsenal.
However, setting up shop with an unusual diamond formation, Dani Ceballos at the tip and Granit Xhaka shielding the defence, Unai Emery’s side actually looked alright for the opening 20 minutes.
What was plain to see was a gameplan that centred around nicking the first goal and tightening up at the back. That didn’t materialise.
Nicolas Pepe, who we’ll get onto later, nearly got the ball rolling but failed to, well, get the ball rolling fast enough when he spurned a one-on-one chance with Adrian. Had the net have rippled, it could very well have brought about an entirely different 57 minutes.
But that is all hypothetical.
He didn’t score, and neither did Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the opening ten minutes, so we won’t go there.
Back to that midfield diamond though. When faced with arguably one of Europe’s finest full-back pairings, the decision to gift them the freedom of the touchlines with the setup in question poses more questions than answers.
That said, it appeared to be paying dividends, with the risky decision to flood the midfield and pack up the defence for crosses working well for the opening exchanges.
Should Emery have opted for a front three, with Aubameyang and Pepe either side of Alexandre Lacazette, the vast majority of their time on the pitch would have been spent tracking runners, all-but stunting any attacking potency they may have offered further up the pitch.
Having succumbed to heavy defeats at Anfield in recent season, it appeared as if caution was thrown to the wind with the lineup, but in hindsight there was method to Emery’s madness.
What cannot be placed on the manager’s shoulders, however, is pathetic, lackadaisical and immature defending.
This summer was one of supreme transfer nouse by Raul Sanllehi, who worked wonders to bring the calibre of players to the club on such a shoe-string budget.
Except for the obvious. DEFENCE.
What has become commonplace for Arsenal defenders is an all-too frequent knack of calamitous errors. So, in that sense, bringing David Luiz to the club signalled some fine work on Arsenal’s behalf, I mean, he fits straight in.
Jokes lighten the mood, but only temporarily. Very temporarily.
Having been caught out in his debut against Burnley, Sideshow David pressed the self-destruct button once again on Saturday, carelessly pulling on Mohamed Salah‘s shirt for presumably no reason other than to balance the stats out which were previously showing he hadn’t laid a finger on him all game.
It was heralded as a suave piece of business. Pinching a Brazilian international on the cheap from a Premier League as a quick fix to an otherwise shambolic defence, but Luiz brings his own baggage that makes for an added dose of haplessness.
On his day he can be a rock, that’s been seen on occasion at Chelsea, but all too often do foolish mistakes and lapses in concentration creep into his game at all the wrong times.
In the full back positions Nacho Monreal and Ainsley Maitland-Niles do their best, you can’t begrudge them for that. But if Anfield told us anything, its that Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney are sorely missed over a central midfielder and a 33-year-old.
What’s mad is, the Scotsman hasn’t even played a minute yet, and won’t until October, but the fact that his presence couldn’t arrive soon enough encapsulates the desperation in the Gunners’ fanbase to atone for some mid-table defending.
But hey, its not all doom and gloom, is it?
Flipping the coin over, Pepe looks like a player who when faced with lesser opposition, is going to wreak havoc. He actually took people on, something that has been so sorely missed at Arsenal – having been blessed with the likes of Gervinho and Alex Iwobi in seasons gone by.
50 – Nicolas Pepe has become the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil van Dijk in the Dutch defender’s last 50 appearances in the Premier League, since Mikel Merino in March 2018 for Newcastle. Beaten. pic.twitter.com/B1oRZMciOB
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 24, 2019
This level of explosive play is trait that has abandoned the Emirates, left instead to rely solely on Lacazette and Aubameyang for a moment of magic, there is now another player on the blocks who will help ease the burden.
Furthermore, while he was somewhat out of his depth in an unusual formation, Ceballos will play an important role in this midfield while he’s been borrowed from Real Madrid, and Joe Willock continues to grow in confidence with every minute he plays.
Nevertheless, for all that wondrous attacking talent and promising academy stars, there’s still David Luiz.
Shkodran Mustafi with a wig.
An undercover Chelsea informant.
A car crash waiting to happen.
Currently Arsenal’s first choice central defender.
Source : 90min