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Online Ed: Arsenal suffer heavy defeat at Anfield

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We could analyse Liverpool’s goals one by one, but there’s little to be gained from that for anybody reading this. They were plain enough to see. Every goal Jurgen Klopp’s side scored was down to identifiable (and fixable) defensive errors. They point to the bigger principle that urgent surgery is required, and even with a full complement of fit defenders, the pool Unai Emery has to choose from simply isn’t up to it. That might not be true under a different coach, but that's a moot point. It’s too early to say Emery won’t work out, but as it seems he cannot coach the defence effectively, he needs individuals who can work it out themselves. Think the defence that Arsene Wenger inherited, and remember that Ashley Cole became arguably the world’s best left back around the time of the Invincibles because of the on-field coaching he received from Tony Adams in his first two seasons. Sadly, a player as experienced as Stephan Lichtsteiner isn't going to listen to Shkodran Mustafi when he is telling him to get into line for the offside trap. And although Mustafi is no Tony Adams, he knew his right back was not doing his job properly. 

Unai Emery used the word ‘protagonist’ a lot when he arrived. The definition is “The main figure or one of the most prominent figures in a situation”. I didn’t see too much of that at Anfield, a game in which Arsenal were dominated. Not in possession, but in terms of effectiveness. Sad to say, but the truth is there was not a lot to tell between a number of latter day Arsene Wenger managed displays away to Liverpool. What changes has Emery made? There is more attitude in the side, a little more cynicism, and he does not indulge players, with little regard for reputation. But the tactics leave his side too exposed, which presents us with the question of whether or not the underlying problem is Emery’s gameplan or the players he has to work with. It’s probably a bit of both.

One assumes Sven Mislintat has some potential targets lined up, although the defenders signed under his watch have not wholly convinced so far (Mavropanos, Lichtsteiner, Sokratis). Sure there have been injuries, but that does not excuse rank bad defending, and let’s face it, it's not as if what happened at Anfield is anything new. The Gunners have been presenting opportunities to the opposition all season. Liverpool simply exploited them in a more clinical manner than other sides.

There were a couple of positives, but not many. The two players responsible for Arsenal’s goal, Iwobi and Maitland-Niles, had better matches then their colleagues. Aaron Ramsey could not be accused of lack of effort. But apart from that, although Emery’s side did have space to play, they were not good enough to create many chances. Aubameyang was starved of service. And Liverpool played the Gunners’ offside trap much better than the visitors played theirs.

Arsenal now have matches against Fulham, Blackpool and West Ham to start trying to rebuild their confidence. And of course we wait to see how financially restrained the club are now that Stan Kroneke has 100% control (and is likely siphoning off funds to pay his interest on his buy out of Alisher Usmanov). Emery will be given the chance to put things right, and the best chance he has of that is if there are funds available to upgrade on his current selection. It was pointed out to me in an email after the game that Liverpool had two major deficiencies last season - goalkeeper and central defence. Within six months they spent the money to sort out the problems. It took big money but they did it. 

Jurgen Klopp took over at Liverpool after they had played eight games in the 2015-16 season. He ended the season with his team in eighth position. If Arsenal are to return to the top table under Emery, this isn’t going to be an overnight process. But at least the areas that need immediate work on are obvious.

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  1. markymark

    Dec 31, 2018, 12:51 #112810

    John F - who indeed? I know that Bard thought that Ivan left because of fears about our future but I wonder if criticism building up over Ozil and his first choice Arteta not making the cut got Ivan thinking he was on wobbly ground and jump before he was pushed. I know that Sanllehi was announced in October but started in February just as Özil got his contract but I assume it was all Ivan’s work. In February Wenger was quoted in the Evening Standard saying it was the cheapest option! He may have course just have said this to give cover for the decision by Ivan. Since this time Raul has said the contracts need to be over hauled. I note that poor old Danny appears out . He must wonder about the previous largesse to Abou Diaby. However we perform I think we will find far less sentimentality and probably under Raul, brutal decision making.

  2. John F

    Dec 31, 2018, 08:56 #112807

    Perhaps if the club did not allow players like Ramsey and Sanchez to run down their contracts and award a 29year old 350g a week Emery would have more money to play with.Wenger despite his incompetence in the later years was widely believed not to be involved in the Ozil negotiations or the decision not to sell Ramsey in the summer which makes me worry about the people who were involved as they have cost the club millions.

  3. markymark

    Dec 31, 2018, 07:09 #112806

    Bard - the point being is that Arsenal have, to use a ropey comparison got a nice big house in a very chi chi neighbourhood . All the other properties have risen 10 fold due to asset increase. Unfortunately the Japanese knotweed that has infected has knocked out asset to the point they are even making a loss! Dreadful bad luck or was it rank incompetence by the owners and Ivan with his save a penny routine. Liverpool to a degree have propelled themselves into the super league by massive player asset inflation , now allowing them to buy at very big Boy levels . Arsenal with 0 asset inflation are buying at true maket high price. Add a stingy billionaire into the mix and it’s toxic. Therefore imo Mstinlat is there for a very good reason . Unearth and sell on to achieve the overall plan which will be to eventually buy at near top end. You cannot do this without sales.Unless you have the Emirates take over and that’s only City in world football .

  4. Bard

    Dec 31, 2018, 00:54 #112805

    Markymark; The policy of selling players for a profit is suicide. Dont look at Liverpool who got lucky with Coutinho, look at Soton who have sold all their players over the years and look where they have ended. It destroys the culture of the club. Having said that Im not suggesting Arsenal arent stupid enough to try it. We all knew getting rid of Wenger wasnt the total answer. What it did was put pressure on others in the club including Stan. I still dont think we are too far away from another rebellion. There are a lot of pissed off gooners who are peeved that Wenger was sacked. If the club hang Dick out to dry I will give my full support to another round of protests. Selling Torriera if true is the most stupid decision Ive heard for a while. I have written before that Ivan saw something he didnt like and jumped ship. Maybe this idea was it ?

  5. Ebor Gooner

    Dec 31, 2018, 00:08 #112804

    I expected to get beaten at Anfield. Admittedly, I didn't think we would get a thorough stuffing, but we are a work in progress. And the operative word is "progress". Changes are required. Would the previous Manager have been capable of making those changes? I believe the current incumbent should be given the opportunity to show he has what it takes. He needs at least 3 years, and the opportunity to bring in his own players, before we can say if he is, or isn't, the real deal. Signs so far have been reasonably encouraging, but we must expect setbacks along the way, and I, for one, feel far more optimistic now, than I have for a few seasons.

  6. Ebor Gooner

    Dec 31, 2018, 00:00 #112803

    I expected to get beaten at Anfield. Admittedly, I didn't think we would get a thorough stuffing, but we are a work in progress. And the operative word is "progress". Changes are required. Would the previous Manager have been capable of making those changes? I believe the current incumbent should be given the opportunity to show he has what it takes. He needs at least 3 years, and the opportunity to bring in his own players, before we can say if he is, or isn't, the real deal. Signs so far have been reasonably encouraging, but we must expect setbacks along the way, and I, for one, feel far more optimistic now, than I have for a few seasons.

  7. GoonerRon

    Dec 30, 2018, 23:43 #112802

    @ Marky - I can see that strategy becoming a potential ‘pillar’ of our model, albeit unofficially. Liverpool funded VVD and Allison through selling Countinho and the results have been to the benefit of the wider team. The only reason it worked though is because, whilst a really good player and added something to them offensively, they already had great strength in that area of the pitch and the two purchases have raised them to a whole new level. This will be the challenge for us - our squad improvement has barely got started yet so we can’t afford to lose Torreira too early in the process otherwise it could unravel. I can certainly see us taking semi-gambles on Guendouzi-esque signings though - as you rightly say, £33m on him and Torreira are probably worth £70m+ after half a season.

  8. markymark

    Dec 30, 2018, 23:34 #112801

    Interestingly the “She Wore “ website is raising the question of a Torreira sale next season . Follow the Liverpool Coutinho mega sale example by getting a £100m then buy 3 or 4 £30m up and comers. At least we have got one thing from Mstinlat which is 2 players Guendouzi and Torreira who have asset value . Compare that to Perez and the loss of £31m. Personally I’d love Torreira to stay but I could see it happening .

  9. mbg

    Dec 30, 2018, 21:36 #112800

    markymark, yes mate every stuffing and embarrassment under their messiah they defended and backed him to the hilt, and he had ten years or more to sort it and build a team (while fergie built three) and he never did and left us in a serious mess, hypocrisy indeed they just can't let go even now. Sad.

  10. John F

    Dec 30, 2018, 20:22 #112799

    The Holding injury was a big blow as I thought the Sokratis/Holding partnership was beginning to show potential.I agree Bellerin is a poor defender but what he did bring to the team was his running that did keep the opposite full back occupied but Litch is simply too slow to do that job.Jenkinson is not ideal but at least he is a bit faster.If the top four hopes do fade away i hope Dic k uses some of the good young players so they can be ready for next season.

  11. CORNISH GOONER

    Dec 30, 2018, 20:08 #112798

    Already broken my 2019 resolution - to cut out the bloody swearing - thanks to the re-emergence of the online, keyboard warriors that are the Wenger Boys. The Europa has some seriously good teams in the latter stages & did not Dick prove to be a serial winner of this unfairly slated competition. And did he not beat the Kloppmeister's team on the way to one of those titles? ffs name a better option or cut the guy some slack - a year minimum. My feeling at the moment is that, barring a leopard changing it's spots (how's the Hunting Channel doing btw?) the new ( & for me exciting) regime will walk away, sooner than later, because of the ownership disaster which is Mr Walmart. He is a kept boy in reality because could he have made those $$$$ without the benefit of a suitable marriage/business alignment? Stanley is more culpable than Arthur Webster for Dick's car crash inheritance imo.

  12. GoonerRon

    Dec 30, 2018, 19:31 #112797

    I know the goals we conceded were terrible but I actually thought in patches Sokratis did quite well. Whilst not a long term solution I do think he is good enough for us. As for signings, I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out. If the rumours of a sizeable annual loss being posted are true then presumably any spend we make will have to be all / partially offset by new income coming in, with FFP in mind. We’ve got visit Rwanda at £10m per season, new Emirates deal worth £20m more per season and the new Adidas deal worth £30m more per season. So there’s £60m to help pay for signings and offset the losses, plus whatever we bring in sales (if any). Got to be enough to start the defensive surgery...

  13. markymark

    Dec 30, 2018, 18:44 #112796

    MBG - the Wenger Boys have been out in full force across various websites. I’d say Emery needs a season of at least 90% his signings and maybe Bould gone before the blame game ultimately falls on his shoulders . Wenger was allowed 8 years of downward drift and entire team rebuilds. The Wenger boys have gone nuts over one bad defeat. The hypocrisy is mind boggling

  14. mbg

    Dec 30, 2018, 18:16 #112795

    I read this on the talk sport site last night after they suggested Emery is doing a worse job than wenger. Wenger had thirteen years to destroy this club and team, Emery has had just a matter of Months to try and put and make it right.

  15. mbg

    Dec 30, 2018, 18:09 #112794

    What dissapointed me most was when we knew we were beat we couldn't get out act together and stem the flow, and not make it any worse, more respectable but we couldn't even do that. Emery has come out and said we have a lot of work to do, no fooking kidding lets hope you do it and it's not just another wenger classic

  16. markymark

    Dec 30, 2018, 17:09 #112793

    Meant to say it worked for* Graham

  17. markymark

    Dec 30, 2018, 17:07 #112792

    Gooner Ron it’s a hard one to judge. I have heard on a football site that our running stats are now up from 8th to 1st. That is probably a reason why Ozil is finding it hard to fit in as he tends to drop off into a jog which at Real he probably got away with. Forward play appears more clinical and at times back to Wenger pomp ( though I personally feel that this has tailed off ) the Holding injury just appears a bigger and bigger blow. A guy who was really stepping up. If Bould is defensive coach I can see an immediate issue there. Unai has coaches who know his style , speak his language and can probably 2nd guess his thoughts. I’d have thought Bould probably needs to go and get a fellow Spaniard in for any defensive specialist coaching . As I’ve mentioned in a previous thread we should look at the championship for British defenders. It worked before Graham and it could well work again. An aging / slow defence still bedding into the Premier is IMO a higher risk than younger more agile and British league schooled defenders. Time to also promote from within. Overall still progressing I believe

  18. KC38

    Dec 30, 2018, 17:02 #112791

    Of course Emery has to be given time, although I am concerned by his choices, to play Lichtsteiner against a fast paced LIverpool was crazy the guy is finished at the top level. Mainland-NIles should have played at right back. He also continues to play Xhaka this is the most difficult thing to stomach, the guy fouls when he doesn’t have to, doesn’t foul when he should, is sloppy in possession in dangerous areas of the pitch, cannot tackle and has no pace. Our defence is atrocious but not helped by this clown. We have awful defenders Bellerin is no better defensively ok going forward but a joke defensively. The amount of goals we concede by players running at us that we don’t stop, the straight long balls we get caught out with, you don’t need time to sort this and that is the concerning thing with Emery, I dI’d expect him to make us competitive at the back, professional and serious but it’s so bad and embarrassing to watch, it actually hurts to watch us be so pathetic every time we visit Anfield and in all honesty the defensive side of the game has been pathetic all season.

  19. Exiled in Pt

    Dec 30, 2018, 15:52 #112790

    Personally I think Jenkison would be a better option than Lichensteiner, who might of been a great player in Italy, does not have the pace for the PL nor does Sokratis! Injuries to Holding and Belerin have hit us hard but in reality we need a left and right back and still need 2 good center backs. It's going to be interesting to see if Stan backs the manager in transfer funds I just don't see it myself. Until he can shift Ozil and trim the wages bill and would be surprised if that happens in this transfer window we are shopping on a budget. Problem will be how long Dick is willing to work like that....

  20. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Dec 30, 2018, 15:47 #112789

    Well summed up Kevin - no need to dwell on the goals conceded because most of us knew a hammering was coming. I do have some sympathy for Lichsteiner though, he was bought in to give some experience to the team and to be cover for a few home and Europa League games, not to play every week and certainly not away to teams like Liverpool - he had aged 10 years by the end of yesterday's match.

  21. GoonerRon

    Dec 30, 2018, 11:43 #112786

    I think we are seeing gains overall - 7 points better off than equivalent fixtures last year, running further, more intensity off the ball - however, we’re comparing against a mediocre base vs last season. I’m finding it difficult to gauge where we are to be honest, especially as I think the defensive injury crisis has influenced Emery to play three at the back more than he’d like.

  22. adnydrum

    Dec 30, 2018, 11:16 #112785

    Disappointing and yet at the same time I'm a bit 'meh'. My take on the back line of yesterday: Mustafi: plain not good enough, thought so since he arrived Sokratis: pillock Xakha: still a loose cannon, regardless of how good a ball-player he may be Lichtsteiner: slow/past it and petulant Not everything can be fixed in one season and given the state of the defence I feel it's too early to question Emery's tactics; already this season we drew the first Liverpool game, beat Spurs and held ManU away - all of which would have been major worry games in the past couple of seasons. My worry is the callous Stan having no interest in investing on account of Ars being no more than collateral for his US-based operations. I can only hope to be proven wildy off-the-mark.

  23. RobG

    Dec 30, 2018, 11:08 #112784

    It was about what I was expecting given that makeshift defence. As always when we take a beating some people go off at the deep end but we need to take it in context. As has been pointed out, we have to try to innovate via the transfer window in January. Even if we do, a top four finish is big ask for this squad given how strong the others are. Unai is doing his best and is - I believe - on the right track. Let's hope for one or two new faces in January and the squad to dig in and give their all in the second half of the season. Only City and Liverpool are really 'out of sight' as far as we're concerned. We can mix it with rest. Whether we best them all or not, remains to be seen.

  24. ArsenalMagna

    Dec 30, 2018, 11:00 #112783

    I think the situation with Emery is that he has to try and put together genuine top 4 and trophy challenges given the expectations of him; hence he places all emphasis on his assets i.e. forward-thinking players. It might also be due to the fact his teams are very open as a rule. In any case, it is tricky in terms of finding quality defenders as it has been for years - why else would Van Dijk cost as much as a world class centre forward? We either need to develop a proper high press system (i.e. defending from the front) and focus on less competitions to save energy levels, OR we need to accept some time in the wilderness and spend a year or two just creating a solid defensive doctrine. Torreira is certainly good enough to help fulfill the latter option, and when Steve Bould first joined he was really helping us to develop a proper defensive system. Finally just to say that I think people should give certain signings more time - judge players after they've played for us for 1.5 to 2 seasons. Leno, for example, is only 26 (young for a goalkeeper) and is a very good shot stopper - OK he's not great at commanding the box, but neither was De Gea when he first joined the EPL, but players need time to adapt!