Why the 5-1 drubbing doesn’t need to be a predictor of our short-term success by Bryan Gobbett
As the dust settles on the thumping we endured at Anfield on Saturday it bears reminding that such onslaughts don’t necessarily augur poorly for the afflicted party. There are many recent examples of big-six Premier League teams finding themselves on the wrong side of a drubbing only to swiftly rebound to an extent that few rational humans could have predicted.
In 2011 Manchester United lost 1-6 at home to Manchester City. This didn’t cause them to lay down and allow their victors to rape and pillage them for a generation. On the contrary Man Utd dug deep and finished level on points with their cross-city foe that very season, losing out on the Premier League title only on goal difference. That rebound continued into the following season resulting in yet another title for the unbearable Mancunians.
There are many other examples of drubbings being inflicted on big-six teams by their peers. Two other recent ones that spring to mind are Manchester City’s 6-0 whupping of Spurs during the 2013-14 season (although Spurs predictably haven’t rebounded and won anything since then) and Chelsea’s 4-0 thrashing of Man Utd on their way to the 2016-17 Premier League title. Teams at the top of their game will, from time to time, dish out a beating to their closest rivals.
But the most recent drubbing of note that Gooners should be interested in is Manchester City’s 5-0 annihilation of Liverpool last season. What a difference a year makes . . . a season after that thumping Liverpool are looking like serious contenders for multiple trophies and possibly even an ‘Invincibles’ monicker. But obviously it’s not just the time lapse (just one year) that’s significant here. The most obvious change is in the players Liverpool then had defending their goal, versus who they have now.
The Liverpool defense that lay down and suffered that 5-0 humiliation was…
Against Arsenal yesterday, that defense was
Liverpool paid more than GBP 150 Million to fix their defensive woes. Certainly this analysis lends serious credence to those Arsenal fans who say we need to spend big in this transfer window. in order to shore up this defense. There are few, if any, Arsenal fans who’d disagree with the assessment that the defense needs fixing, the real question is how to fix it.
I’d strongly contend that between Bellerin and Maitland-Niles on the right (yes, understood that many feel AMN is not a defender, but for me he has every possible chance of being a right-full or wing-back for Arsenal) and Monreal/Kolasinic on the left, we have sufficient resources in the full back positions. Yes, perhaps they’re not world-beaters, but they’re at least adequate. The real problem is in the heart of the defense. Even when fully fit, the crew we currently have to fill those positions is seriously inadequate.
But is there another GBP 75,000,000 Van Dijk out there? I don’t think there is. Perhaps we need to look back to the Invincibles for inspiration. Kolo Toure and Sol Campbell were a brick wall in that 2003-2004 season. And how much did they cost Arsenal? Sol Campbell came in on a free transfer and Toure was bought for GBP 150,000. I’m not saying don’t splash out on a Van Dijk if there’s one available . . . all I am saying is let’s explore all options. I’m certainly not giving up hope. I have a funny feeling that given a little bit of time, Emery can solve these problems, whether it be big-money purchases, obscure purchases, or even youth development. Don’t be put off by the drubbing we received on Saturday. It’s not a true indication of how far we really are from contending.