A Hard Loss to Liverpool Should Adjust Arsenal's Expectations
Diogo Jota scores Liverpool's second goal.
Pittsburgh / November 20, 2021
Before today's match, Mikel Arteta had whispered that Arsenal can compete to win the Premier League this season. Today's 4-0 loss to Liverpool should re-adjust Arsenal's expectations. Liverpool is a far more skilled team and they would have score 7 or 8 goals if Aaron Ramsdale had not pulled off top tier saves at goalkeeper. This Arsenal team has made significant forward progress in the past 2-3 months, but Liverpool is higher skill at most positions. No attacking Arsenal player is at Mohammed Salah's level. The speed and pace of transition in Liverpool's midfield is way ahead of Arsenal. Arsenal's team is still very young by Premier League standards and our players need more practice and repetition in top tier competitions. Nuno Tavares is high potential but he made too many mistakes. Even Gabriel -- who has played so well that he got called up to Brazil's national team -- made repeated mistakes on defense.
Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea are clearly the top 3 teams in the Premier League. After those 3, there is a second cluster of 5-8 teams that are all competitive. Arsenal is in this second group. If we strive to overachieve every week, we can finish 4th or 5th in the Premier League this season. There is still too much inconsistency in defensive midfield. Thomas Partey should always start but Arteta has not found the right partner or system to surround Partey. When Arsenal had possession the final third, Liverpool neutralized Bukayo Saka. Emile Smith Rowe was effective at times but the team did not create enough openings for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Aubameyang had one or two scoring opportunities and he put one very good shot on target that forced a save from Liverpool's goalkeeper. But otherwise, Liverpool's defensive system outperformed Arsenal's attacking players.
Going forward, Arteta should focus on finding the optimal partner for Thomas Partey and improve how Arsenal defends in the midfield when the team losses possession. Arsenal got exposed when Liverpool transitioned quickly after winning the ball.
Arsenal must draw a line under today's loss and move on.