Split-seconds separate great from good: Arsenal vs Liverpool

An Anfield on Saturday, Arsenal went down with a fight, sort off, the Scousers’ experience showing in the end as the youngest team in the Premier League lost 4-0.

Arsenal gave Liverpool a better run for their money than we have seen from them at Anfield in recent years.

Until their second half collapse, of course.

Arsenal haven’t collected a point in the league from Anfield since 2016 and you have to go all the way back to 2012 to find the last time they left with three.

There might have only been two points between the teams going into this game, but in those fine margins lie massive differences.

The main thing Liverpool did was steal a split-second from a young team still trying to assimilate Mikel Arteta’s intense tactics.

At the top level, that’s the difference between being title challengers and a team only starting their ascent up the hill.

Arsenal had less time to think on the ball and errors were forced too often to be able to claim anything from this game, even dignity.

That’s not the worst thing in the world, and, with more time, Arsenal players, like Liverpool ones, won’t need that split-second extra.

They will learn more from this defeat than any of the previous 10 games when they were unbeaten.

We just have to form a protective bubble around Aaron Ramsdale until such time as that split-second no longer matters.

After the match, Mikel Arteta spoke to the media. Here is what he had to say:

on his assessment of the game… We competed really well in the first half – they had their moments, we had our moments. We were really compact and used the ball in the right way to create some situations. We had a goal disallowed and then we conceded a goal from a set-play. In the second half, when we had to build some momentum and start to grow [into] the match, we threw it away in the first 15 to 20 minutes. We gave every ball away in very dangerous areas. We had [them under] no pressure. They punished us, we lost control of the game and they had all the momentum.

on if the fact he has a young team had an impact after half-time… I don’t know. I’ve seen some of the biggest teams in the world come here to this ground and collapse. It can be – in certain moments I think we were a bit [insistent] when things were not working or when we lost some balls, we had to mix our play much better. But we didn’t and that’s it. They were better than us for 90 minutes and that’s the level. They’ve been together for six years and today you could see the difference in the moment that we lost control of the game.

on what happened with him and Klopp on the touchline – and if it galvanised the home crowd… He was trying to defend his side, I was trying to defend mine and that’s it. I think the atmosphere was incredible right from the beginning, so that’s it.

on if he saw his side’s limits today… I think we threw the game away in 15 minutes, doing exactly what we didn’t have to against the best team in the league. They were attacking us in short counters, where in two or three passes, they have their wingers going on the inside of your full-backs. It’s something we should have done better. We didn’t. But that’s the reason. At the moment, they are better than us and we lost the game.

on if he’ll have to pick up his players after the defeat… Here it doesn’t matter whether you play young or senior players – I’ve seen all types of players suffer in this ground. When you go 2-0 or 3-0 down, it’s very difficult and we suffered. It’s a learning process – today there are a lot of things that we should take but the most important one after a result like that is the next one, and to forget about this one.

on if he thought Mane was being too physical in his challenges… I don’t know – it was just an action and that’s it. I tried to defend my players and that’s what I did.

on the importance of bouncing back quickly… That’s what big and good teams do, and that’s what we have to do. On Monday, we’ll start again, review the match, the things that we should have done better and understand the reason why we lost it. Then we’ll correct it and focus completely on Newcastle.

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