As evidenced by their thrashing by Liverpool, Arsenal’s promising young core still needs work.
Arsenal hadn’t lost since August, but they couldn’t stop Liverpool from rioting at Anfield.
ANFIELD — This was always going to be the true litmus test to see how far Arsenal had progressed.
Mikel Arteta’s side arrived at Anfield with confidence after an eight-game unbeaten run that saw them rise from 20th place at the end of August to fifth place at the start of the weekend.
As impressive as that sequence was, the pertinent question before kick-off was whether it was proof of evolution or yet another false dawn, given that Arsenal had beaten teams they should have beaten and taken advantage of poor performances from Spurs and Leicester in the other two matches.
After a half-hour wait, it appeared that the answer was the more optimistic scenario.
Arsenal has been more vulnerable to the Anfield onslaught than most, conceding 18 goals in their last five league visits, including 11 in the first half.
Meanwhile, Arteta was a key player in Arsenal’s 5-1 defeat in 2014, when they were 4-0 down by the 20th minute.
Liverpool has dominated Arsenal in recent meetings, overwhelming them with their intensity and wearing them down with their quality.
Liverpool, on the other hand, took a while to get into their usual stride on this occasion.
Ironically, it was a touchline brawl involving both managers that seemed to jolt them awake, with Arteta and Klopp both receiving yellow cards for a heated exchange.
It was as if the players were enraged that their own boss had dared to challenge him in his own home.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, as has been the case in recent weeks, took the initiative.
When Liverpool’s usual strategy of tearing teams apart in open play is hampered in some way, the 23-year-old is a useful cheat code.
It’s a useful ace card to have one of the best set-piece specialists in the Premier League.
Alexander-Arnold scored the game’s first goal on Sadio Mane’s head after 39 minutes.
Arsenal was aware of what was about to happen, but they were powerless to stop it.
Arsenal’s resistance began to sag at that point.
It dropped to in the second half.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy
The thrashing by Liverpool shows that Arsenal’s promising young core still needs work.