It did seem pretty obvious that Arsenal’s 10 game unbeaten had to come to an end sometime, and there were very few fans that expected it to be extended at Anfield, where Liverpool haven’t lost a game since March, and the Gunners haven’t won up there for the last 10 years either.
But, to be fair, Arsenal did start the game well, and held Klopp’s men at bay (with extra thanks to the heroics of Aaron Ramsdale) but once Mane finally got the ball in the net in the 39 minute, the customary Arsenal collapse came to pass.
This is how Arteta’s described the first half in his after match press conference: “We competed really well in the first half – they had their moments, we had our moments. We were really compact and used the ball in the right way to create some situations. We had a goal disallowed and then we conceded a goal from a set-play. In the second half, when we had to build some momentum and start to grow [into] the match, we threw it away in the first 15 to 20 minutes. We gave every ball away in very dangerous areas. We had [them under] no pressure. They punished us, we lost control of the game and they had all the momentum.”
So we went into the dressing room feeling the pressure, and Liverpool were on the front foot straight from the restart. Arteta was asked if he thought the inexperience of his new young team could have contributed. “I don’t know.” he continued. “I’ve seen some of the biggest teams in the world come here to this ground and collapse. It can be – in certain moments I think we were a bit [insistent] when things were not working or when we lost some balls, we had to mix our play much better. But we didn’t and that’s it. They were better than us for 90 minutes and that’s the level. They’ve been together for six years and today you could see the difference in the moment that we lost control of the game.
“I think we threw the game away in 15 minutes, doing exactly what we didn’t have to against the best team in the league. They were attacking us in short counters, where in two or three passes, they have their wingers going on the inside of your full-backs. It’s something we should have done better. We didn’t. But that’s the reason. At the moment, they are better than us and we lost the game.”
I’m not sure if Liverpool are currently “the best team in the League” at the moment, as Man City and Chelsea may have something to say about that, but right now those three are in a League of their own for the title race.
All Arsenal can do, is accept that fact and try to beat all the other contenders for 4th place. We are still in 5th at the moment, so we just need to pick ourselves up and resume winning ways against Newcastle next weekend.
Onwards and upwards!
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