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Arsenal’s unbeaten run finally came to an end after losing 4-0 to Liverpool at Anfield as Mikel Arteta’s side missed the chance to leapfrog their Premier League rivals.
The Spaniard had overseen an impressive run of form since losing their first three matches of the season and the Gunners went into this game fourth in the table.
But it was clear that Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool would be keen to bounce back after a surprise defeat against West Ham before the international break.
Sadio Mane’s header put the Reds in front after an entertaining first half in which Arteta and Klopp clashed on the touchline.
Then Liverpool turned on the style and took control of the game, with Diogo Jota doubling the lead in the second half to seal the points.
Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino added a third and fourth late on to seal the victory.
Daily Star Sport looks at four things Arteta got wrong and one he got right as the north Londoners headed back to the capital with their tails between their legs…
What Arteta got wrong
No plan for the tremendous front three
It is no secret that Liverpool's strength lies in their front three. Mohamed Salah has hit 11 goals in 12 games this season and provided seven assists. Diogo Jota is also in good form.
Even Roberto Firmino is back amongst the goals and Mane has recovered from his "worst season" in his own words.
So for Arsenal to field a back four and simply allow the attacking trident of Salah, Mane and Jota the space to roam and run as they pleased was criminal on Arteta's part.
As the Gunners chased a goal in the second half, they were guilty of sending their full-backs further up the pitch, leaving them utterly exposed as the front three helped themselves to a goal each.
Mane was able to stride forward and pick out Salah for the third as Arsenal huffed and puffed back towards their goal.
Sometimes, quality players are difficult to stop. But in this instance, a back three with wing-backs would have surely helped limit their influence.
Instead, the north London side served up a shambolic defensive display in the second half and they were lucky not to concede more than four goals.
High line on defensive set pieces
Arsenal were weathering the storm when Liverpool cranked up the pressure and the Gunners gave away a free-kick in their own half.
With a free-kick expert such as Trent Alexander-Arnold standing over the ball, the last thing Arsenal should have done is give the Englishman a huge area to launch the ball into.
But they did — and Arteta’s men paid the price.
Ramsdale was almost rooted to his line with his defenders 20 yards in front of him and that allowed Alexander-Arnold to float the ball in, with Mane guiding his header past the helpless goalkeeper.
It seemed like something they had practiced on the training ground and if that is the case, Arteta must hold up his hands for essentially inviting Liverpool the chance to take the lead in this encounter.
Losing his composure
It’s fine to show passion on the touchline and in Arteta’s case, it is understandable that he wanted to protect his players.
But Arteta’s bizarre reaction to a seemingly innocuous foul on Takehiro Tomiyasu provoked a furious row with Jurgen Klopp and it seemed utterly needless.
Of course, for the viewers at home it only added to the tension and excitement. But the 39-year-old chose the wrong moment to lose his head and land himself in trouble with Michael Oliver.
What’s more, it only fired up the Liverpool crowd inside Anfield, who had been unusually quiet up until that point.
Klopp is usually the more animated figure on the touchline, so for Arteta to break form and lose that sense of tranquility was certainly odd. he carries perhaps gave Liverpool the boost they needed to go on and win this match.
Odegaard left out again
As much as Alexandre Lacazette is contributing to the overall pressing, the fact the 30-year-old can only last 60 minutes before being substituted for the third game in a row suggests he is in decline.
Why then, does Arteta continue to leave his £35million signing Martin Odegaard on the bench?
The Norwegian was brought on with only half an hour to go and looked desperate to make some sort of impression as he sprinted around the midfield areas to no avail.
By then, the damage was done and Arsenal were well on the back foot.
The Spaniard worked tooth and nail to sign Odegaard from Real Madrid, but his preference for Lacazette, a player seemingly on his way out of the club, is baffling to say the least.
What Arteta got right
Keeping faith in ridiculous Ramsdale
With every game that Arsenal play, Mikel Arteta can smile knowing that he proved a lot of people wrong with the signing of Aaron Ramsdale.
Going into this match, Ramsdale had kept five clean sheets in nine games after a superb start to his Arsenal career and the 24-year-old was in inspired form once again to shut out Liverpool’s potent attack.
He pulled off a block on Sadio Mane and then somehow lifted himself up off the ground to deny the Senegalese at the second attempt.
His second save was even better and perhaps more difficult, as he denied Mohamed Salah from point-blank range with an instinctive save, prompting even Jamie Carragher to laud the England international.
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His heroics could only last for so long as Mane headed home from Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick and Ramsdale, being the perfectionist that he is, might be disappointed he couldn’t keep it out.
Ramsdale could do little but watch as Diogo Jota rounded him to double the lead after a horrendous error from Nuno Tavares.
He was perhaps the only bright spark in an otherwise worrying defensive performance and more displays like this will only strengthen Ramsdale’s hold on the number one spot for his club — and maybe England too.
- Arsenal FC
- Mikel Arteta
- Liverpool FC
- Premier League
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