[Arsenal 3 – 1 Liverpool].
We’ll start by saying that the Gunners deserved their win. That awkward equalizer right at the half could have translated into something better, but Liverpool managed one shot on goal the entire game, and it wasn’t even the one that went in. You can’t expect to play like that, away to one of the best teams in the league, and do well. In the end, this game merely served to confirm what has been the case all along: it’s a three-horse race this season.
I find that preferable to “City wins unless they stumble heavily which doesn’t happen” version we’d been subject to for what feels like an eternity.
This was also a game that, on paper at least, Liverpool could afford to lose; drawing at home against the same opposition when the visitors were extremely lucky to escape with a point was harder to take. What might be more worrying was the way the game was lost. The Reds looked tired, disconnected, and miserable throughout the first half, perhaps as a direct outcome of the remarkable game they played against Chelsea on Wednesday. Arsenal could have easily been two or even three up.
The second half was definitely better in the midfield, at least until that rare, absolutely awful howler from Van Dijk gifted man-of-the-match Martinelli with the easiest goal of his career. From that point onwards, the Gunners reasserted themselves, and they didn’t need two soft yellows on Konate (culminating in one of the softest overall red cards ever) to own the Reds.
Who would have imagined only a month ago that we would be missing a 20-year-old recent academy graduate in defense so badly? My condolences to Conor Bradley for the passing of his father, but how I missed him against Martinelli, who repeatedly made a mockery of Trent. Klopp might have started with Gomez on the right and Robbo on the left, although I imagine that would have been a very difficult call to make.
Perhaps an easier call would have been to start Elliott over Gravenberch. The latter is sorely lacking in confidence and in a game like this, was bound to be eaten up and spit out by a spirited Arsenal squad. He looked repeatedly lost in midfield and put both Mac Allister – who had a bit of a howler himself – and Jones, the only Reds midfield who escapes serious criticism, under unnecessary pressure.
Arsenal didn’t care, and they capitalized. Saka’s first goal was as easy as you like, following an Odegaard pass that chopped Liverpool up into tiny pieces. The third in the end didn’t matter, and I think was mostly the result of frustration on the Reds’ side, especially poor Alisson, than anything clever the Gunners did; the game was already done.
In the end, Arsenal scored all the goals, and their own goal (off an incredibly persistent effort from Diaz) only made the outcome seem temporarily evitable. It wasn’t. The Gunners simply outplayed the Reds and earned their victory.
If a red card had to be given today, it wasn’t to Konate; it was to Liverpool at large.
One consolation is that Liverpool is still on top, and City has to come to Anfield – and host (and hopefully draw) Arsenal. We’re getting ourselves the most interesting league in a long time.
Let’s make the most of it.