Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had to endure another torrid afternoon on the touchline as he watched his side slump to a 3-2 defeat against Arsenal.
The Reds now find themselves 10th in the Premier League table after this latest loss – their third of the season – with the possibility of worse to come depending on future results. Liverpool found themselves carved apart inside 60 seconds as Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring for Mikel Arteta’s exciting young side who looked a cut above the sorry visitors.
Darwin Nunez briefly got the Reds back on level terms, but a brace from Bukayo Saka, including one from the penalty spot, gave the Gunners an important three points which saw them move back to the top of the table. Daily Star Sport takes a look at four things Klopp got wrong on another difficult afternoon in north London.
Will the real Trent Alexander-Arnold please stand up? The 24-year-old full-back has always looked better going forward than he has done defending the ball, but at the moment it feels like one of the aliens from Space Jam has stolen all of his powers away.
Alexander-Arnold was partially at fault for Arsenal’s opening goal, looking woefully exposed as Martin Odegaard slipped a beautiful pass through for Martinelli to open the scoring. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory for the Gunners’ second either.
It begs the question of whether Klopp did the right thing leaving him in the side to face an Arsenal team who have looked quick, slick and dangerous going forward this season. The German boss realised the error of his ways at half-time, bringing on Joe Gomez, but by that point, the damage had already been done.
With criticism not likely to stop any time soon, and a daunting trip to face Manchester City and Erling Haaland next Sunday, Liverpool fans may be hoping Alexander-Arnold receives a much-needed rest sooner rather than later.
Not starting Firmino
Liverpool haven’t exactly been lacking up for goals this season – they’d scored 18 goals in eight Premier League games, including a 9-0 battering of Bournemouth, before this trip to the Emirates.
Five of those had come via Roberto Firmino, widely-regarded as one the club’s best players so far this season. Despite his good form and consistency compared to some of his team-mates, the Brazilian had to settle for a place on the bench in north London.
Introduced at half-time, the veteran forward instantly showed Klopp what he had been missing, getting his side back on level terms within seven minutes of his arrival. The 31-year-old has done more than enough to warrant a place in Liverpool’s starting XI of late and will be hoping for a recall in the Champions League in midweek.
For a side that only conceded 26 goals last season, Liverpool have looking worryingly exposed at the back this term. Although the individual performances of players like Alexander-Arnold and Gomez have not been up to scratch, they’ve not been helped by the way the team is set up.
Alexander-Arnold has received little to no cover on the right-hand side throughout the campaign, weakening his excellent creative output and exposing his defensive deficiencies. And so it proved against at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.
A midfield two of Jordan Henderson and Thiago was never going to provide the shield required against a rampant Arsenal side, and with four attacking players on the pitch, it left Liverpool hopelessly exposed at times in the first half.
Legs in midfield
Henderson and Thiago aren’t getting any younger. And against a youthful and vibrant Arsenal side, they were both made to look like yesterday’s news.
Liverpool aren’t blessed with options in central midfield at the moment; they should’ve signed someone with legs in the summer. But the current set-up simply isn’t working and it cost the Reds dear once again at the Emirates.
Klopp should have started the match with Fabinho or, taking into account Arsenal’s energy, one of Harvey Elliott or Fabio Carvalho. It wouldn’t have been perfect, but it might have allowed for a more balanced midfield two with a solid blend of youth and experience.