I’d love to be able to blame our humiliating annihilation on the numbskull responsible for dressing us in a green kit, upon a grass pitch, but frankly that’s a feeble excuse. Saturday’s demolition served as a timely reminder of the enormity of the task facing Unai Emery.
No less disconcerting was the number of our players who were content to see out the second-half, passively blending into the verdant background.
If Emery has truly managed to revitalise the spirit in our squad, then 4-1 down at the break, with the result already a foregone conclusion, I would’ve at least expected the Gunners to display a modicum of pride.
The two-points blown at Brighton in midweek made this capitulation all the more galling, but it was our abject reluctance to stand up and be counted which made this display all the more painful.
Between the astounding ecstasy of Maitland-Niles’ first goal, there was a whole three minutes for us Gooners to fantasise that it was “game on”, until Firmino promptly quashed any such delusion.
The gulf that exists between these teams is evident in the fact that Klopp’s side virtually picks itself. By contrast, Arsenal fans anxiously fretted over our team news.
Compounded by the loss of Holding, injuries to Monreal and Bellerin have exposed the glaringly obvious defensive shortcomings of our existing squad.
Albeit I’m unsure precisely what more Emery might’ve done to mitigate our porous bulwark, in the face of the Scousers’ firepower. Koscielny’s so blatantly short of match pace that it was no surprise to see Salah almost immediately breeze past him. With their table-topping clash with City looming, I was relieved the league leaders took their foot off the gas after the break, limiting the risk of permanent damage to our club captain’s confidence rebuild.
At nearly 35, Lichsteiner is no longer a viable option at wing/full-back. As a wizened doyen, he increasingly relies on old-school chicanery to conserve his waning reserves of energy.
While Kolosinac might be built like a tank and can prove effective in attack, as part of a back five, sadly he’s a complete liability in a four-man rearguard.
As for Sokratis, over the course of our deceptive undefeated run had I seriously begun to kid myself that this donkey could be our Zeus, a genuine vocal leader?
This tragic roll call of ineptitude wouldn’t be complete without doffing my hat to Mustafi. It’s some achievement to be just about the only centre-half who seems to spend more time on the deck than his feet!
Should any affirmation of a nerve-wracking encounter be necessary, it came with our first corner and the sigh of relief that greeted the blast of an offside whistle resulting from the Gunners’ ball into the box; if only for some momentary respite from the ease with which we’re prone to being sliced and diced on the counter.
Deprived of the tools and the capacity to shut shop, Emery’s logic in trying to take the game to our hosts was understandable.
Aubameyang might’ve been less anonymous playing in tandem with Lacazette, but this would’ve likely involved Iwobi’s omission, just about the only Arsenal player to come away with any credit.
Even Torreira had his least impressive performance to date, whereas Liverpool’s ‘in yer face’ intensity was always destined to expose Xhaka’s limitations. Whether it’s fatigue, or a demurring attitude from Özil and Ramsey that’s dampening the mood, the dynamism of Emery’s side has ebbed of late, to the point where performances are disturbingly indistinguishable from the Arsenal of old.
Inevitably the customary recourse from the terraces is the clamour to “spend some f***in’ money” but where does Unai begin, when the odd addition won’t provide us with a panacea?
Hopefully with our defence, since it’s futile to try and build anything on such flimsy foundations.
But with only two genuinely creative talents remaining in our squad and with neither particularly inspired by the honour of the captain’s armband, is it possible to address the issues with Özil and Ramsey in a beneficial fashion?
Peter Hill-Wood was the very last link to the Arsenal’s tradition of old-Etonian, aristo chairmen.
His passing truly symbolises the end of an era. Ideally, an urgent overhaul of our squad might mark the start of a new one?