One of this weekend’s most anticipated matches was Arsenal hosting Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, and the fixture did not disappoint fans in the slightest.
A seven-goal thriller saw manager Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool side leave North London with all three points in a 4-3 victory as the hosts looked out of sorts throughout the match.
Much can change over the course of a Premier League season, especially when only looking at a club’s first showing.
However, Arsenal supporters will be expecting manager Arsene Wenger to evaluate several issues and tighten up the form of the Gunners moving forward.
Here, we highlight five key areas that contributed to the mess that was Arsenal’s first home match of the 2016-17 season.
Arsenal’s back-line had a disastrous afternoon. The centre of the back four that included young new-signing Rob Holding and 21 year old Calum Chambers, remained subject to consistent exploitation, especially by Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho. His ability to create space and find two goals was impressive, but the Gunners did not do enough to stay compact and keep their shape.
Such inexperience at the heart of Arsenal’s defence was always likely to be a vulnerability, and questions have been raised as to why Laurent Koscielny wasn’t rushed back into the starting eleven for such an important occasion. As is addressed later in this article!
Though Liverpool found the net with some magnificent efforts, questions have to be raised over all four of Arsenal’s defence and the line in front of them as to why the visitors were able to penetrate the eighteen yard box so easily in the early stages of the second half.
Walcott’s Missed Penalty KickNow, it is important to note that Theo Walcott found the opening goal of the contest just a minute after missing a penalty kick in the first half.
His strike from Alex Iwobi’s pass was impressive, but if both scoring sequences were successful, then the Gunners would likely have had a far easier afternoon. Arsenal failed to capitalise on what was a fairly ordinary first half showing from Liverpool
A 1-0 lead was an ideal way to begin, but that missed penalty ended up being a crucial mistake.
Failure to Put Pressure on Opponents
One aspect that practically jumped out watching Arsenal defending on Sunday afternoon was their inability to put any pressure on Liverpool when the Reds had the ball in dangerous areas.
Coutinho had acres of space all over the Arsenal half of the pitch for both of his goals and Liverpool midfielders were able to complete passes with ease.
Arsenal finding a way to get more proactive on the defensive side could have assisted in snuffing out at least one or two of the opposing goals.
Petr Cech’s Rough Day at Work
While his defence let him down in various moments, goalkeeper Petr Cech was not in his best form on Sunday at the Emirates.
Giving up four goals in a space of only 18 minutes, Cech was certainly tired of picking the ball out of the back of the net. While he could do little to stop Coutinho’s first strike, he may feel a couple of the others were savable.
To add insult to injury on a bad day, post-match reports suggested that Cech crashed his car into a pillar while leaving the stadium. There will hopefully be some better days ahead for him (there has to be, right?).
Questionable Selection Resulting in a Young and Inexperienced Backline
With 20-year old Rob Holding and 21-year old Calum Chambers starting in central defence, Wenger must have known that Arsenal were always likely to be slightly under-par at the back.
A few key players in the squad are believed to not be 100% fit, though many fans and pundits alike believe the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud should have been involved by any means possible.
All three of these crucial senior players are believed to still be short of match fitness following extended rest after Euro 2016. If this is the case, supporters will understandably question why members of the French and Portuguese squad (Euro 2016 finalists) were playing for other Premier League teams, while Arsenal’s stars were not ready.