Arsenal suffered another disappointing defeat to Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, though perhaps not quite as embarrassing as in the last couple of years.
Obviously, the benchmark for a club like Arsenal shouldn’t be improving on a four-goal defeat, but the reality is that things could have been much worse than the 3-1 scoreline on Saturday.
Unai Emery’s side clearly had a plan in the first half, and it almost seemed to be working, with Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang having a few chances to score on the break after soaking up a lot of pressure.
Then Joel Matip scored from a set-piece just before half-time and the game quickly slipped away. A late Lucas Torreira strike didn’t do much other than make the scoreline look a bit more respectable.
Let’s have a look at our player ratings for the match.
- Bernd Leno 6 – It was the usual story with Leno. His distribution was good, he made a couple of decent saves, and there wasn’t much he could do about a close-range header, a penalty and an inch-perfect Mohamed Salah finish.
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles 4 – Maitland-Niles did well to offer some support to Pepe on the right, but he gave the ball away far too many times, often in dangerous areas.
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos 5 – In general, Sokratis had a decent game. He won both of his attempted tackles, he made a couple of interceptions and won three of his four aerial duels as well as having a 95% pass accuracy. He had one very poor moment that was ultimately costly, holding onto van Dijk’s shirt in the box and simultaneously blocking Guendouzi from jumping for a header, allowing Matip to score.
- David Luiz 3 – Luiz made a lot of clearances and his passing was good, but there was very little else on the positive side. He was dribbled past both times he attempted a tackle, he gave away a stupid penalty, and the resulting yellow card meant he had to let Salah go to score a third.
- Nacho Monreal 4 – Monreal didn’t offer anything going forward, which was perhaps a fault of the system as much as anything else. You would’ve expected more on the defensive end as a result, but he was similarly anonymous at the back.
- Matteo Guendouzi 4.5 – Guendouzi and Xhaka played some nice passes, but they also both wanted way too much time on the ball. Guendouzi was given a tough task to cover the right-hand side defensively and he was hit and miss in that regard.
- Granit Xhaka 5 – As above, but Xhaka did win the ball back well, recovering it 15 times, far and away the most of any individual in the match.
- Joe Willock 6 – Willock drove forward with a lot of purpose and helped to make Arsenal’s gameplan a viable one for at least the first 40 minutes. He won the ball nine times, the second-highest total after Xhaka, and he was the only starting midfielder to create a chance.
- Dani Ceballos 3 – Sadly, this was a performance as bad as Ceballos’ Burnley showing was good. The midfielder tried to do too much and ended up being dispossessed a game-high four times. Almost set up Mane for the opening goal. Subbed off after an hour, and even that felt too late.
- Nicolas Pepe 7 – Up against two top defenders in Robertson and van Dijk, Pepe was really the only player Arsenal fans had to be excited about. He completed seven of 10 attempted dribbles and curled an excellent effort from outside the box narrowly wide of the post. He should have scored after beating Robertson and Henderson to get in on goal, but otherwise, very good stuff.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 5 – Aubameyang went very close to scoring after an Adrian mistake, and he was a little unlucky to see the ball go just wide. He set up Lucas Torreira’s late goal too, though for the rest of the game he was a bit of a passenger.
- Lucas Torreira 6.5 – With the qualification that Liverpool had pretty much stopped trying by the time Torreira came on, he did really well. The Uruguayan won possession a couple of times, created a chance and scored one of his own. He’ll be hoping for a start now against Spurs.
- Alexandre Lacazette 5 – 10 minutes isn’t really enough time to have a major impact at 3-0 down, and Lacazette did have one or two positive touches and off-the-ball runs. Even so, it didn’t look like he would’ve changed the game coming on earlier.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan 5.5 – Mkhitaryan actually looked alright in this very small dose. The game was dead, but he had one nice dribble and a few good passes.