A few days later my head still hurts, but it hurts in a different way to the usual post defeat headache. Anyone who has read my thoughts in the past will know how much I admire everything Arsene Wenger has done for this club. You'll never catch me abusing the man out of nothing but respect for the service, trophies and class he has brought to our club. But man, it is increasingly difficult to defend his decisions and choices these days.
Arsene Wenger has been a football manager almost as long as I have been alive so I'm not sure he will be too concerned with my frustrations but humour me here for a minute, will you?
Let's put the team selection on hold for a moment because I don't even think that plays as big a part in this as we make out. If we have players like Lacazette on the bench then he should be the ideal type of player to bring on late when you're attempting to win the game. But how does one win a football match away from home against a dangerous attacking team when you play brainlessly. Talk all you want about desire, being up for the fight etc, all very important factors when it comes to trying to win games it must be said but how many times have we seen Arsenal go away from home against tough opposition and act as if defending is just an afterthought?
Too many times is the answer and it stretches back for many years now. Imagine a boxer jumping into the ring against one of the best, charging towards him without any intentions of putting his guard up throughout the entire fight. What is likely to happen? He's going to get hit and hit hard. Against the poor boxers, you may get away with it because you've been working on your jab every day but the better boxers will know how to keep away from your jab and knock you the f out.
Roberto Firmino found space in the penalty box and headed beyond Cech, not quite sure why he wasn't marked. Liverpool then kept winning the ball from us and breaking at speed against us. Henderson and Salah both had good chances to score before Sadio Mané scored yet another goal against us darting in from the left and smashing a great shot past Cech into the far corner. In the second half, we gambled and left an already exposed defence even more exposed. Bellerin's error allowed Salah to run clean through from the half way line to slot past Cech for 3. Substitute Daniel Sturridge headed in the 4th unmarked at the back post.
Danny Welbeck's early miss aside, what did we create? In these big games away from home do we ever create tons of scoring chances? I don't think we do. If that is the case, why do we play so many players in the opposition half of the pitch leaving us so vulnerable on transitions?
In so many other top 4 clashes, we often witness stalemates, two teams cancelling the other out and hoping for a moment of brilliance from one of their key players to win the game. Why can't we approach games in this way?
Which is why I was not going crazy about Lacazette starting on the bench. Make sure Ramsey, Xhaka and our wingbacks are compact and offering protection to our back three. Limit the number of shots on goal Liverpool have, allow Danny Welbeck to run channels, close down Liverpool's centre backs, something he did very well I must add, if the score is still level in the second half and we are having a good spell then introduce Lacazette's fresh legs or even Giroud as Liverpool are pants on crosses. Isn't that what big teams do away from home?
It reminds me of what Tony Adams said to Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit after the 3-1 defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers at Highbury in 1997. There was a players meeting after the game and he demanded more protection from his midfielders and we went on to win the league. Who in this squad is calling on Ramsey, Ozil and the like to offer more protection when we are under pressure?
Only Sunderland (133) have faced more PL shots on target in 2017 than Arsenal (120), while no other top-6 side has faced more than 66. [Sky] pic.twitter.com/B59UQAGrd6— afcstuff (@afcstuff) August 27, 2017
This stat says a lot, those numbers are ridiculous. Even more so when you consider our turn around in form when we moved to a back three last season. I'd be interested to see a break down of the stats over the years compared to our rivals.
I would have liked to have seen Kolašinac at left wingback and played Bellerin at right wing back but in truth, I'm not sure it would have made a blind bit of difference with our approach without the ball.
This has been a rather depressing write-up, which I apologise for. I do my best to try and enjoy watching Arsenal regardless of how good we are because what's the point right? Nobody is standing with a gun to their head, making us watch and support this club. When you decide to involve yourself emotionally with a football club, you are signing up for disappointments and joy thrown at you randomly.
But this performance has hurt my head a little more than usual. But you know what makes my head hurt even more? This is the team (plus two new good additions) that dominated and beat Chelsea in the cup final only a few months ago. It is the squad that had good undefeated runs at the start and end of last season. It's easy to ignore that when our collective heads drop but it's the truth. We have a strong squad of players who at times play like a poor squad of players.
Oxlade-Chamberlain looks set to depart the club which makes his selection even more strange on the face of it. Mustafi could be heading out too, another head scratcher so hopefully, we will see some incomings, probably on deadline day. Who they are and what quality remains to be seen.
Strap yourself in folks, it could well be a bumpy ride.
The Arsenal Vision podcast will be recorded this evening and should be available for you ears on Wednesday. It should be a very interesting listen so stay tuned for that.