Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal: Arteta’s worst performance of the year, as on-field leadership lets Arsenal down. An ungrateful, unapologetic moan.

This post is going to upset people, I’m sure.

Those people who think any kind of criticism of the Club, the team, the coach is treason. Those who offer “go with the flow” or other equally inane aphorisms. Either that or they switch to logical fallacy and admonish me, saying “Look at what this young team and their rookie manager have accomplished so far…” as if these two things can’t exist at the same time: a miraculous season and an opportunity missed.

If we can’t identify errors or missteps, we are doomed to repeating them. I don’t believe for a minute that Arteta will look back on this match and feel that Arsenal did everything they could or should have to take three points back to London and keep this title race firmly in our hands. If you are a fan who hates ‘conflict’ – firmly held, emotional opinion, stated bluntly, and would prefer that everyone just ‘get along’, well then I suggest you move along. I’m a football fan, my opinions blow hot and cold, I can be prickly and unpredictable, tetchy and irrational. That’s what football can bring out in me. it doesn’t always, but it can. And as we travel further along the bleeding edge of this season of knives towards an almost unthinkable prize, my emotions are running high, and my head is not as cool as it could be.

All of that said – we can all be glad that I didn’t write this immediately after the match, when my blood was still bubbling – my disappointment could easily have been mistaken for anger – and let me make this absolutely clear: I am not angry at anyone, Arteta or our players… I am in total awe of all they have achieved and – full disclaimer – before the game started I was happy to take anything away from Anfield. I am disappointed by a number of things that I believe contributed to the final result in what was, admittedly, the game of the season so far: nail-bitingly, butt-clenchingly, scream-out-loud-at-the-TV tense.

Let’s get to it.


Credit: Godfrey Pitt (Action Plus/ Shutterstock)

Firstly I’d like to mention the things that we did well. Brilliantly, in fact.

  1. We took the game to Liverpool from the start, came out of the blocks with intensity and aggression, and forced them onto the back foot – which is perfect, because that is where they are weakest: their defence is leaky and their midfield is creaky. We pressed with intensity and it absolutely shocked them into submission. The stadium was whisper quiet and they couldn’t find their groove; they couldn’t retain possession, resorted to fouling, long balls and spent a fair amount of time chasing shadows as we kept our passing crisp and quick. But at 30 minutes, something changed. (More on this later.)Arteta acknowledged in his post-game interview: “We could have taken three points. We should (play like we did in the first 30 minutes) for another 15 minutes and then the game would have taken a very different trajectory. We didn’t. We have to take the point.”
  2. Ramsdale. Man Of The Match. Single-handedly made sure that Liverpool’s xG (which was close to 4, ours was slightly less than 2) wasn’t realised. His saves were spectacular: the one-on-one with Nunez, the acrobatic cat-pounce to keep out Konate, the finger-tip flick to keep out Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner curler, especially with the help it got from Gabriel’s deflection… These are all Saves Of The Season in my opinion – and I thank my lucky stars every single day that Martinez is at Villa, Leno at Fulham, and Ramsdale is wearing the Arsenal Number One jersey: long may it continue.
  3. Arteta had a difficult choice to make regarding team selection: four forwards firing, and only three slots available. Add to the mix the fact that Trossard netted a hat-trick at Anfield earlier in the season – albeit in Brighton colours – and Mikel had a choice to make: stick with the pre-World Cup first choice trio or Martinelli, fit-again Jesus and Saka… or shake it up with Trossard replacing one of them.Pre-match debate had fans (me included) suggesting that perhaps Trossard should start for Martinelli, torment Liverpool, and then have the young winger come on as one of Arsenal’s subs impactors. Fortunately for us, Arteta went with the young Brazilian on the wing – and what a fabulous choice it was. Martinelli was MOTH (Man Of The Half) for me, with a goal and an assist – he was unplayable on the left, causing TAA and Konate much grief on the left.

And now the things I think we didn’t do well, chronologically…



  1. After spending 40 minutes silencing the scousers – the worst possible thing Granit Xhaka could have done is get himself involved with Alexander-Arnold. It looked like the Xhaka of yesteryear had suddenly risen from the dead, as Granit leapt up from (yet another) unawarded foul and stormed in to a tackle on the Liverpool wingback, leaving an arm in as Alexander-Arnold passed back to Alisson. Trent then pushed Xhaka, and they went into full rhino-rutting mode, complete with forehead-rubs and eyebrow-abrasion. The sleeping Anfield giant awoke and breathed fire into the home team.Everything changed in that moment. From two-nil up and cruising, Arsenal suddenly found themselves facing the dreaded 12th man, and our structure and confidence was sucker-punched. You could feel the shift – even through the TV screen. Doubt turned to deflation as we conceded a sloppy goal a mere two minutes after a totally avoidable incident.

    It’s common sense: if you want to steal the treasure, don’t wake the dragon.

    Xhaka should have known better. I thought this aspect of his game had been ironed out, but obviously leopard, spots, etc.

  2. Truth is – it was the seniors, the more ‘experienced’ players, the so-called ‘leadership group’ that let us down last night. I believe 100% that Xhaka’s yellow card was the catalyst that sparked Liverpool’s resurgence and lost us two points. From that minute on, they completely dominated us in every statistic. They could easily have won this game 4- or 5-2, but for Ramsdale’s heroics, and Salah’s poor penalty.Jesus and Zinchenko have received many plaudits for bringing the experience of winning titles to this Arsenal team, but I believe they both had poor games. Arsenal were being kicked and clattered off the park, but couldn’t win a foul from referee Paul Tierney, who in return, seemed to liberally award Liverpool free-kicks for the gentlest of infractions.

    (The penalty was indicative of the officials’ bias: Jiota was not in control of the ball when he tripped up Rob Holding in our box, and I think Saliba’s gloriously-maned deputy was unfortunate to have been punished with a penalty kick. Justice, however, was swerved – left of the upright – by an otherwise rampant Mo Salah – and Ramsdale’s fire was lit – which probably saved us the game – so eff you, ref.)

    Jesus wasn’t the only player who seemed to play for a foul, or worse – a yellow – by keeling over and rolling around after a coming-together… Xhaka and Saka did it too. But our Brazilian number 9 played his part in fuelling the Anfield flames with his antics, which met no sympathy from the men in black, and only made the situation worse, in my opinion. I long for the days of Bergkamp & Co., who combined icy stoicism with a fair dose of cold revenge, never playing the ‘victim’ and trying to unduly influence officials.

    Zinchenko, Partey and Odegaard all seemed off-colour and put in average performances. TAA skinned Zinchenko for the equaliser. Partey didn’t play with his usual dominance – he was still superb at reading the game, making interceptions, and squashing attacks, but his next move – the transition pass was often sloppy or poorly chosen. Odegaard had his usual silky touches but on the whole they weren’t productive. Saka couldn’t make an impact and was sub-par in defence – in fact our right hand side was uncharacteristically weak.

    If we are to push on in this run-in, our leadership group is going to have to step up and help bring calm to this group, as each game becomes more loaded and the pressure mounts.


  3. I praised Arteta for his team selection – but I feel that this was one of his worst games as Arsenal manager.At half time I believe he should have been advising his team to stick to the plan: high intensity pressure, defending from the front, and staying focussed when in possession. He himself has said it over and over again: “Play the game, not the occasion”.

    Instead, we seemed to drop deep, inviting their dominant front row into the game, and giving their midfield time to play themselves into form. We allowed the pressure to mount, and for the most of it, our defence stood tall and firm, batting back a relentless stream of shots. However, with everyone behind the ball, we couldn’t retain possession on the clearance and gifted it back to Liverpool.

    We had chances on the break but squandered them, Martinelli unfortunately not able to complete the vital final cross, or thread the perfect through ball. And then those opportunities were turned into frantic defence as Liverpool did what Liverpool does.

    Arteta seemed to wait and wait to make a substitution, even though the game was clearly slipping away and Arsenal desperately needed an injection of positivity, of hope. Surely Trossard was an obvious choice to come in for a weak Odegaard and play off the striker as a more attacking ten? …or for Xhaka, whose net contribution was tending toward negative? Especially considering Leo’s recent Anfield antics..?

    Finally – in the 80th minute, Arteta brought on Trossard. And Kiwior. Kiwior?! Really? Was he supposed to play the Holding “Closer” role and firm up our defence? Because the opposite happened… our defence got weaker. Playing with a back 5 is not something we have done a lot this season, and it showed – besides which, Kiwior has hardly covered himself in glory in his few cameos this season. I believe bringing him on was a blunder. It sent the wrong message to both teams: we are going to sit back and defend this precarious lead by just throwing bodies in the mix.

    Taking off Odegaard before Xhaka, and thereby handing the captaincy to a player who wasn’t exactly having a great game was another misstep. Given the options we had on the bench, I would rather have taken off Jesus and Xhaka, and brought on Trossard and Jorginho – kept the back 4, and had Partey and Jorginho patrolling the edge of the box to pick up loose balls and transition to attack.

    Arteta then made his third and final change in the 89th minute, taking off Zinchenko after his equaliser error, and bringing on Tierney. (Tierney has played as a left centre back in a back 5 before… surely he was a better option than Kiwior?)

    What does it say about our ambition when we leave players like Jorginho, Smith-Rowe, Nelson and Vieira on the bench as unused substitutes and bring on Kiwior? At what point in the match did Arteta decide that hanging on to one point was more favourable than reaching for three?

That’s it. I’m done.

And yes – you’re right. I sound like I’m a moaning, ungrateful little b*tch. This blog is overly negative and critical. Moreover, I have absolutely zero credentials as a football pundit. I am the first to admit it. I’m expressing my opinion based on an experiential view of proceedings. I have ZERO influence on the results that Arsenal has so consistently produced this season. I peddle hypotheticals, with absolutely no way to tell if they would have had any effect – let alone a positive one – on proceedings or results.

My opinion is worth nothing and you don’t even have to respect it.

Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.

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8 Responses to Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal: Arteta’s worst performance of the year, as on-field leadership lets Arsenal down. An ungrateful, unapologetic moan.

  1. RedandDread April 10, 2023 at 1:44 pm #

    I think you’re pretty much spot on with everything you have said here.

    • Gunners Town April 11, 2023 at 7:02 am #

      Thanks. Appreciate the feedback.

  2. Isaiah Okorogbudje April 10, 2023 at 4:50 pm #

    Where is the lie?

    But I also saw what you did there on your conclusions

    • Gunners Town April 11, 2023 at 7:04 am #


      Not sure where the lie is..

      Thanks for the response.

  3. Fatai Oyerinde April 10, 2023 at 6:20 pm #

    Well, one thing I don’t like about football is that it makes everyone a coach. Everybody has idea or ideas especially when things go the way we don’t expect. People will always have reason to talk. Assuming lirmio chose to join the league of misser yesterday, we probably won’t have seen this article. So no problem. But I don’t think anybody can convince me that Arteta doesn’t need the game more than anybody. There are times our decision becomes idiotic especially when it doesn’t work out as expected. So spot on. But when don’t need to be pessimistic at the stage, we want to see something positive and get behind the team. The boys gave out everything. Game of football has cone to game of who first makes mistakes. No mistake no goal.

    • Gunners Town April 11, 2023 at 7:07 am #

      Thanks for your response. If you don’t like that football fans all have opinions then maybe it’s not the right sport for you! If you’re invested in your team and see it as your representation on the pitch, then you’re bound to have passionate responses to how things play out, and opinions about how they could have played out better.

      There are some things in your comment I can’t quite understand. Perhaps typos? Thanks anyway for your feedback.

  4. Ron Ryan April 10, 2023 at 11:47 pm #

    I pretty well agree with all your points. I am not that clued in with “Why” we were not as good in the second half but something was not right and we needed to change it with the “Right” substitutions. Had a feeling we needed another goal in the first half and that they would come back at us and we appeared to not be prepared for that. Xhaka is a plank for getting involved and that disruption immediately led to a goal so a “double plank”. Subs and timing were bizarre suggesting Arteta was also struggling. In summary we should have put the game out of sight in the first half and not let the second half get to the point where they should have won it. A point is better than zilch but only just. Before the game I thought a loss was a possibility but to do so well then squander it was frustrating. Hope they all sit down ,analyse, discuss and learn big time for the run in as overall they have done fantastic so far.

  5. Gunners Town April 11, 2023 at 7:08 am #

    Thanks for your comment. I agree completely. And I’m sure Arteta and the team will learn from letting this one slip away. Hopefully in time for City.

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