Arsenal getting battered away to big teams has a become a frequent sight. It has come to a point where such performances no longer surprise anyone. Liverpool’s smashing 4-0 win served a haunting sense of Deja vu of various away days over recent years for Arsenal fans. As the scoreline suggests, nothing quite went right for the gunners and here is why it turned out to be a disastourous evening for them.
1)Starting 11- Arsene Wenger’s starting 11 was a shocker for everyone. While the news of the return of talisman Alexis Sanchez was a huge boost, new signings Lacazette and Saed Kolasnic found themselves on the bench. Both of them have largely impressed so far and it made little sense to see them omitted from the lineup. What made it even weirder was the fact that Danny Welbeck was playing up front for Arsenal and both wingbacks were out of their natural positions. In a game as big as one against Liverpool away from home one expects you to fill the team with your best players. Surely a player who was the best left back in Bundesliga last season and the number nine who you bought for a club record fee count as ones.
2) Lack of experienced players and specialists- Continuing from the point about a poorly selected team, was the alarming lack of experienced and specialist players in defense. Hector Bellerin who is a right sided player was playing as a left wing back and clearly looked out of his depths there. Rob Holding is an extremely talented young player but as the Leicester game showed still has a lot to learn. Nacho Monreal, a left back by origin was playing as one of the three center backs. Why play Monreal and Holding in the back 3 while having someone like Mustafi on the bench?
3)Tactics- It has been said countless times before and the signs are we are gonna say it a lot of times again at least for the next couple of years. It might sound harsh but Arsene Wenger simply doesn’t know to set up his teams in away games against top quality oppositions. Arsenal went in with a midfield of Xhaka and Ramsey which Liverpool quite expectedly breezed through. Like Antonio Conte showed last week against Spurs in such games you have to be a lot more pragmatic. You need to play a midfield whose first task is to be solid defensively and give protection to the to back 5. Against a side like Liverpool who likes to play to benefit from winning possession up the pitch, you have to be prepared to sit back and let them have the ball and try and exploit their defensive woes on the counter. Arsenal like always was naive to that and the threats that Klopp’s sides possess.
4)Big players did not show up- Mesut Ozil as it has been quite well documented, is a sort of a liability in these games. His performance yet again left much to be desired. His work without the ball is a definite weakness but even with the ball he wasnt impressive enough. Alexis Sanchez who is Arsenal’s brightest hope also put in a lackluster performance and barely did anything significant. While it would be harsh to judge him because it was his first game of the season and was expectedly off the pace but it definitely did hurt Arsenal.
5) Players lack fighting spirit- The big name players can be easy scapegoats but the fact is the Arsenal team is filled with underperforming players or simply players not good enough. Like Gary Neville quite rightly pointed out Arsene Wenger is too loyal to players who keep letting him down. The list just goes on and on in that team of players who have failed to repay Wenger’s trust over the years. It’s high time Wenger says to them that enough is enough and goes looking for better players. These players not only don’t perform to expected levels but lack commitment and the will to fight for the side. This team cannot handle moments of high pressure and choke the moment presented with a difficult situation. If you have to win games of these magnitude and difficulty each and every player in the side has to put in a shift but for Arsenal quite consistently it looks like the players barely care. Many times of late it has felt from the outside that Alexis Sanchez is the only player who cares about winning. All this certainly happened on Sunday evening at Anfield.
These players not only don’t perform to expected levels but lack commitment and the will to fight for the side. This team cannot handle moments of high pressure and choke the moment presented with a difficult situation. If you have to win games of these magnitude and difficulty each and every player in the side has to put in a shift but for Arsenal quite consistently it looks like most players barely care. All this certainly happened on Sunday evening at Anfield.