Arsenal: Only One Player Was Worthy Of His Place Against Liverpool Yesterday
What a first half.
Arsenal barely even put the key in the ignition let alone get out of first gear. Two Martin Skrtel goals in ten minutes - a nice price, that, I'm sure - with two more added in the next ten.
Arsenal's centrebacks - fan favourites, brilliantly consistent - were completely dreadful. Koscielny's lame attempts at stepping out have caused his side problems all day, allowing players to break the back line far too easily. The lack of movement and communication between the two, today, was underlined when Brazilian sprite Philippe Coutinho played an admittedly great pass around the pair as they allowed Sturridge (or 'Dan Storage' if Michael Owen's leadened-tongued pronunciation is to be believed) to saunter through the gap.
Perhaps theirs is an issue of fatigue. It'd be understandable but it again brings up the question as to why Wenger didn't bring in back-up in the summer.
Mikel Arteta was also poor. Since he's arrival he's been a man pitched as the solution to Arsene Wenger's recent midfield issues with the ex-Everton man's ability to read the play and steady ships a vital component in allowing the more creative players around him to rome. He didn't do that today. He was barely involved (besides a consolation penalty and a reasonably well-struck free-kick) and offered no protection whatsoever. He strolled around the centre-circle without a care in the world save for, perhaps, where he could continue buy Just For Men in bulk.
That two of Arsenal's much lauded stars were unceremoniously hauled off on the hour mark was also pretty telling.
Mesut Özil, once championed as the saviour of Arsenal, was not so much anonymous as a mere husk of a man - about as effective as a Vietnam vet rocking in his chair, emptied of abilities by the sight of continued atrocities. By contrast, Olivier Giroud - subbed for Podolski - was actually absent. Surely. He was involved a grand total of no times.
How can the hopes of a title rest on a player like that? He's their one and only striker and he looked completely redundant today. "But where was his service?" you might say and, sure, that's an issue but his lack of movement and desire was shockingly obvious today. Not getting into position where teammates can find you is more than half the problem.
Only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked worthy of his place in the team today. His move into the middle of the pitch looks to be paying dividends already and he looked dynamic and strong and the only man on Arsenal's team who ever looked like doing something.
The sensational nature of the scoreline will probably take away the attention from just how good Liverpool were: Coutinho, Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling, Gerrard and Jordan Henderson were all absolutely fantastic. Their defence was barely tested and Simon Mignolet only flapped at one cross. All in all, it was about as complete a performance a team could ask for.
Arsenal fans might say that their second half performance was better and, well, it technically was but Liverpool had basically kicked their legs out and got out the Saturday paper by that point.
Ripping this Arsenal team apart truly proved that this Liverpool side are capable of finishing in the top three this season.
For Arsenal, facing an extremely tough series of matches in the next month (including another against Liverpool), they must be worried that their season is about to split apart at their very visible seams.