Arsenal suffered their biggest defeat of the season as a merciless Liverpool ripped through the Gunners’ defence at Anfield on Saturday night.
It would be wrong to say nobody saw this defeat forthcoming. Arsenal have been treading the fine line for far too long, and a thrashing like the one they received on Saturday was definitely on the cards, given their defensive problems. Liverpool made no mistake in exposing their frailties to score five after conceding an early goal.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ strike in the 11th minute seemed like a dream start for Arsenal, but Liverpool made amends two and a half minutes later with Roberto Firmino scoring the equaliser, and then scoring another one not long after. In no time, the Reds were up 3-1 courtesy Mohamed Salah, who squared the ball for Sadio Mane to score a simple goal.
Liverpool were then awarded a penalty just before the break, and Salah made no mistake in putting one behind Leno to get himself on the scoresheet and alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Premier League’s joint top-scorer. The Egyptian had an opportunity to go one ahead of the Gabonese, but let Firmino take the second penalty in the second half, which the Brazilian scored to complete his hat-trick.
Overall, Arsenal were a shambles, and Unai Emery would have taken note of his side’s defensive problems. He might have seen such a lesson forthcoming, but not by such a scoreline. Here’s how Arsenal’s players fared during their 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool at Anfield.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
Leno does not deserve criticism for how Arsenal’s defence played out. In fact, one has to wonder how many goals the team would have conceded on the evening had it not been for Leno. The German made some top saves while also keeping things tight during set-pieces and corners. His command was decent, and the blame for conceding five goals only falls on the defence.
Stephan Lichtsteiner: 2.5/10
It was Lichtsteiner’s poor clearance that came back into Firmino’s path for Liverpool’s equaliser. It was his side that the Reds usually took their game towards, with Salah beating him easily for Mane’s goal. Overall the Swiss was a liability, and Arsenal need Hector Bellerin back soon.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 3.5/10
The ratings for any Arsenal defender is meaningless for Saturday’s disasterclass. But, when compared to Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis still gave a half decent account of himself, bar the moment when he conceded the first penalty. There is no explanation for such a dreadful performance from the Greek defender, but it is more likely than not that such a poor showing will not be repeated.
Shkodran Mustafi: 1/10
Careless, lethargic and error-stricken are the three words that describe Mustafi’s performance perfectly. Fans, for once, seemed relieved that the German was fit but now regret that he ever started on Saturday. Emery did so too and rightly took him off at half-time.
Sead Kolasinac: 3/10
There was no sign of an attacking verve from Kolasinac, but there was no defensive solidity on show either. In fact, it seemed like he was not even there on the pitch like many others on the evening as the game passed him by. Atrocious performance from the full-back.
Lucas Torreira: 3/10
A shocking performance from the Uruguayan, who has usually been a reliable figure for Arsenal this season. Torreira gave the ball away several times, was unable to retain possession and recycle play, and clearly showed that he might need some rest. Uncharacteristic performance from the midfielder.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
Probably the best player on the pitch for his side. Calm and composed with possession of the ball, Xhaka also made some crucial tackles near the box. Had it not been for a shocking team performance, the attackers could have benefited more from Xhaka’s enterprise.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6.5/10
Arsenal’s best performer going forward. Maitland-Niles gave Arsenal fans their only moment of happiness throughout the 90 minutes with the opening goal. With his performance, he might have just turned Emery’s head on his position on the pitch, and could make the right wing slot his own.
Alex Iwobi: 6/10
Another one of Arsenal’s bright performers on a dull evening. Iwobi ensured the Gunners at least posed some kind of threat and made some work of Liverpool’s defence. The Nigerian now needs to keep this level of performance in the coming games.
Aaron Ramsey: 5.5/10
Given the nod in place of Mesut Ozil, Ramsey was alright and nothing out of the ordinary. Not quite at his best, the Welshman still tried to make things happen. He did create some chances but to no avail and his performance might just keep him in the team ahead of Ozil at the turn of the year.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 5/10
When the team performs poorly, create few chances, it directly affects the performance of the central striker. Aubameyang naturally did not receive much support to score, but missed some decent half chances as well. He needs to impose himself more in games like these to have a significant impact.
Laurent Koscielny: 6/10
The level of the defence instantly changed from bad to decent upon Koscielny’s introduction at half-time. Of course, by that time, Arsenal had already shipped in four goals, but the Frenchman ensured there was no repeat show in the second half. Should continue ahead of Mustafi in the next game.
Alexandre Lacazette: 5/10
Still a big question mark on why Lacazette didn’t start, considering he’d been performing well in recent games. The Frenchman did decently, but nothing to change the course of the game.
Matteo Guendouzi: N/A
Was not involved much upon coming on and hardly did anything to get a rating.