From the announcement of the Starting XI, this fixture felt doomed from the start. Welbeck over Lacazette, Bellerin at left wing back, the Ox at right wing back, Ramsey/Xhaka pairing in the midfield, and no Kolasinac…what was Wenger thinking?
It appears the players decided to follow suit and refused to put any effort into the match like their manager, because for the entirety of the 90 minutes, Arsenal were flat, lethargic and downright embarrassing. After a crushing defeat to Stoke last weekend the team came out in predictable Arsenal fashion. In fact, if Petr Cech didn’t surprise with a few outstanding saves, it could have been 3-0 after 25 minutes. Roberto Firmino managed to find a free header and buried it past Cech 17 minutes in to start the nightmare. Possibly the most frustrating aspect of the goal is that Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain were barking at each other seconds before Arsenal turned the ball over and let Firmino cut right through the middle of the defense.
Note: This match was such an utter embarrassment, that a traditional match report won’t suffice. Arsenal were exposed and need to be held accountable for their dismal display and shambolic actions that led to this predictable performance. Thus…
Mid-Report Rant #1: Mentality
This match in itself is why Arsenal’s “mentality” is the most detrimental aspect of the club. Not the makeshift lineups, lack of depth, or expiring contracts, but when a club shows up to Anfield with no fight or desire how can they expect to win the league, let alone compete for a Champions League position. Supporters have been yearning for footballers with a winning mentality, or at bare minimum a consistent effort and fight. 80-90% of the squad lacks the mentality that the Arsenal badge requires.
Now, back to the match. After a few early yellow cards were exchanged, as Arsenal attempted to find any sense of rhythm, the play switched back over to Liverpool who thoroughly dominated the ball and attacking chances. The Gunners constantly remained on the defensive. They were repeatedly stretched apart and couldn’t pick out a pass or retain possession for more than a few seconds. For a brief period, it appeared Arsenal might get themselves back into the game, so naturally, Liverpool responded with a curling goal from Sadio Mane in the 40th minute. 2-0.
Mid Report Rant #2: Wenger Out
Wenger has continually behaved as if he’s five steps ahead and the rest of the world just can’t comprehend his brilliance. The reality is, Wenger is dated, egotistical, tactically oblivious and motivationally inept. What kind of manager allows his squad to barely scrape back past Leicester City, then lose 1-0 to Stoke and finally follow it up with a beatdown against Liverpool? No accountability, no respect, and worst of all, a refusal to learn from mistakes. “Wenger Out” was toxic last campaign, but it has become more than necessary this time around.
Arsenal started the 2nd half more positively, but in reality, how could any club not? Supporters can’t give their club credit for “working hard” after getting run ragged and outworked for the first half. After 55 minutes, the Gunners managed a few attacking sequences but failed to find a final pass. Just as a comeback appeared possible, Bellerin botched his first touch following a miserable corner and allowed Salah to fly by unmarked and slot it past Cech for the third goal of the afternoon. Wenger then responded by taking off Alexis and Oxlade-Chamberlain, for possibly the last time, replacing them with Lacazette and Giroud.
Mid-Report Rant #3: Inept Transfer Business
It’s been clear to Arsenal supporters for years now that the quality of the starting XI as well as the reserves is severely lacking. This club desperately needs depth in goal, at centre-back, in the midfield, and in some ways on the attack as well. Days remain in the transfer window, but Arsenal won’t bring anyone of significance into the squad. Wenger and the board have no sense of urgency and no desire to MAKE. DEALS. HAPPEN. It’s always been about the “best” deal late in the window, that sometimes but more realistically most of the time fails to go through. When City, United, and Chelsea want a player, they get it done. Arsenal is a big club that behaves like a small club. The club needs a fire sale, from top to bottom. We need new ownership, a new manager, and players who are willing to die for the badge on their chest.
By the 80th minute, Arsenal were down 4-0 following a Sturridge header, as any remaining Arsenal fans slowly meandered out of Anfield. The shots of Alexis Sanchez on the bench encapsulated the tone of the day: sad, unforgivable, and comically tragic. Thankfully Liverpool couldn’t find the net for a fifth as Arsenal still suffered their worst defeat in the Premier League since December of 2015, losing 4-0. As the final whistle blew, Arsenal managed an astounding zero shot on goal. A truly inspired performance, just not from our beloved Arsenal.
Final Rant: What Now?
Arsene Wenger should resign immediately. “But the end of the transfer window is so close, wouldn’t a change ruin any chance of late additions?” No, simply because Wenger is as incapable of getting that side of the job done as he is the tactical side. Truthfully, what quality player in their right mind would come to a club that expects to lose the majority of its best players on free come next summer? If Wenger stays, which he almost certainly will, expect one or two panic signings that reinforce our amateurish depth but fail to improve the quality or mentality of the squad.
Arsenal look shockingly midtable. Perhaps this performance is enough to convince Wenger that his legacy will be tarnished forever if he refuses to hand over the reins. As for the players, if they have any respect for the club, the fans and themselves, a resounding win following international break is the least they can do to repair some of the damage.