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Arsenal teams of old would have left Liverpool with a hiding.. they are getting better but fans’ patience is the problem

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THE  task facing Mikel Arteta at Arsenal was laid bare in a torrid first half on Merseyside.

A reminder to some of the fans still giddy after their FA Cup final success over Chelsea that they remain a considerable distance behind English’s football’s heavyweights.

But a vastly improved second period – albeit spoilt by Diogo Jota’s late goal sealing Liverpool’s 3-1 win – proved this team are increasingly stubborn and resilient.

Arsenal teams of old would have left Anfield with a bit of a hiding.

Still only 10 months into the job, Arteta is definitely improving this team.

The problem is Arsenal were the eighth best team in the Premier League last term and finished 43 points behind Liverpool, so the gap will not be completely closed any time soon.

While Arteta will take heart from some aspects of this performance – and quite rightly – there will be other causes for concern.

One worrying aspect was another incredibly disappointing display from Willian, who was signed in the summer to shine on nights like these but did absolutely nothing.

Arteta’s team certainly had more spark when Xhaka was replaced by Dani Ceballos

And you also get the feeling Arsenal probably sold the wrong goalkeeper to Aston Villa.

As each week passes and Fulham continue to struggle, a 3-0 win at Craven Cottage on the opening day looks less impressive.

The Gunners fluked a 2-1 win over West Ham at the Emirates 10 days ago in a game they would have been lucky to land a point from, let alone steal a victory.

The good news is Arsenal have won two games in the Carabao Cup. The bad news is they are back at Liverpool in the fourth round in 48 hours.

Had Liverpool been reduced to 10 men after three minutes when Sadio Mane elbowed Kieran Tierney – it was already the striker’s second foul of the game – things would have been very different.

Arsenal were looking for three successive wins at the start of a Premier League season for the first time since 2004-5, which followed their Invincibles campaign.

And those hopes were given a genuine lift with a stunning strike on the counter-attack in the 25th minute.

Liverpool lost possession following a clearance from Alisson and a cushioned header from David Luiz started a brilliant 12-pass move which ripped the home side apart.

The final pass came from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and, while Andy Robertson made a complete mess of things, Alexandre Lacazette’s mishit shot was certainly no better but it clearly fooled Alisson.

For a period, though, Arsenal fell apart.

Tierney was too weak against the marauding Mo Salah and although his shot was nothing special, Bernd Leno’s save was terribly weak and Mane will not have many easier chances.

 

Emi Martinez was flogged to Villa because he was not prepared to have a fair fight against Leno for the number one jersey and wanted to automatically be first choice.

It was both an arrogant and disrespectful attitude towards a fellow keeper.

Equally, we will see a few more errors from Leno this season as he is an average keeper.

Not that you could blame him for the second. Willian was guilty of ball-watching and was hopelessly out of position when Robertson was left unmarked to stick away a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

At least Arsenal caused more problems in the second half.

Granit Xhaka did well enough in the opening 45 minutes and at least he is not afraid to communicate, something we have not seen much of in previous Arsenal teams.

But Arteta’s team certainly had more spark when Xhaka was replaced by Dani Ceballos on the hour.

Willian could have few complaints at being hauled off for Nicolas Pepe while Lacazette – having wasted a good chance which could have been crucial – looked frustrated as he trudged off the pitch to be replaced by Eddie Nketiah.

Although Arsenal will take heart and still pressed for a point, Jota lit up his debut by making it 3-1 to continue Liverpool’s perfect start to the campaign.

For Arteta, his team is getting better but Arsenal fans must be patient. And there you have the big problem. 

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