To say they capitulated is an understatement and it was car crash TV from a fans perspective. There wasn't a player who came out of the game with any real credit with the possible exception of Wojciech Szczesny who could do nothing more in goal as those in front of him failed time after time.
They say goals change games and Arsenal's case certainly wasn't helped by conceding a goal inside the first minute. The fact that it wasn't a free or that the free wasn't taken from the right place was bad enough, but insult was added to injury when an offside Martin Skrtel scored. There were still 89 minutes to play though and plenty of time for Arsenal to turn things around, but to do so they needed to show urgency and mental strength and they were qualities sadly lacking in the team yesterday.
I don't see the point of an in depth analysis of each of the Liverpool goals but Arsenal were found wanting for all if them. It has been suggested in some quarters that the defence was left so exposed as Arsenal tried to push forward to attempt to get back into the game, but one attempt at goal in the whole of the first half would suggest otherwise. Arsenal may have had more possession, made more passes and completed a higher percentage of pssses but all that counts for nothing if it is going nowhere.
Liverpool pushed forward and closed Arsenal down in possession just like Southampton did a few weeks ago and yet again Arsenal couldn't cope in the first half in particular. They have become incredibly lax in the first half of games far too often in recent months and yesterday they paid the penalty for yet another lethargic start. Football games are played over 90 minutes and if you don't play for each one of those minutes the better teams will take advantage of you. Arsenal were marginally better in the second half and matched Liverpool in goals in that second half, but Liverpool knew the game was already won.
With Chelsea winning later in the day Arsenal dropped to second in the table behind them, but still a point ahead of City who could only draw 0-0 away to Norwich. A one point lead is far from unassailable and there are bound to be plenty of twists and turns between now and the end of the season, but the momentum is definitely with Chelsea at the moment. If Arsenal are going to have a chance of winning the league they will have to keep pace with Chelsea and that means they have to win their next game.
They won't have to wait too long for that game with the reigning champions paying them a visit this Wednesday night and it's a game Arsenal quite simply have to win. There can be no time for the players to feel sorry for themselves about yesterday's result and surely there can't be much more of a motivating factor than a home game against United. It's a United team who are a pale shadow of the one which strolled to the title last season, but they still have some very good players and will be no pushover. I'll deal with that game in my preview on Tuesday or Wednesday.
At least that game against United is at home because Arsenal performances away to the better teams in the league this season have not been good. They have won an impressive eight of their 13 away games, but the three defeats were against City, United and Liverpool and they still have to go to Chelsea, Everton and Spurs. There seems to have been a lack of a plan going into those games and if there was a plan it went badly wrong each time. That cannot be allowed to happen when Arsenal play away to Chelsea, Everton and Spurs and some real thought has to go into the preparation for them.
Mesut Ozil hasn't been at his best recently although I thought he was very good in the second half comeback against Southampton and he has taken a lot of criticism from many places. He is a World class player and he's at his best threading balls through to players making runs in behind the opposition defence. Arsenal do not have the players for Ozil to feed at the moment and it's badly affecting his game in my opinion. Theo Walcott was the ideal player for Ozil to feed and his season is over due to injury with no real alternative to replace him. It takes time to adapt to Premier League football and Ozil needs to be given that time before he will be at his best.
The template employed by Liverpool and Southampton is one which other teams are bound to employ on a more frequent basis against Arsenal. It worked very well for both of them and without Walcott to find room behind their defences it is one Arsenal need to find a way to counter. The pressure they put on Arsenal was very effective and it put Arsenal off their game from the start of each game. They managed to come back and get a point off Southampton but Liverpool were out of sight before Arsenal could even think about trying to counter them.
There is a chance for Arsenal to get revenge over Liverpool next weekend when they play at the Emirates in the FA Cup. It will be a very different game with Arsenal at home and the FA Cup is probably Arsenal's best chance of a trophy this season despite their lofty league position. If they can follow up a win over United with a win over Liverpool the abomination of yesterday's 5-1 defeat will be filed away as a bad day and a one off with their season back on track. It won't be an easy task and the game after the Liverpool one will be even harder with the reigning champions of Europe paying them a visit. It certainly promises to be a very interesting and challenging week or so and we can only hope the team will be far more up for the challenges they face than they were yesterday.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.