Nicolas Pepe shows promise but 3/10 David Luiz struggles as Arsenal slump at Liverpool
Arsenal's winless run against Liverpool extended to 10 games as the visitors were comfortably beaten 3-1 at Anfield. The Gunners were blown away by Joel Matip's header and a Mohamed Salah brace, before Lucas Torreira netted a late consolation.
Despite ultimately being on the wrong end of the scoreline, Arsenal's game plan worked for most of the first half. Their defensive capabilities have come into question all too often, but there was willingness to play out from the back against Liverpool's energy. Nicolas Pepe also showed promise; on another day his curling effort could have opened the scoring.
Arsenal struggled to cope with Liverpool's high press and found their penalty area bombarded during the early stages, while a diamond formation in midfield led to further exposure in wide areas against full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson. At 1-0 down there was still hope, but a calamitous 10 minutes from David Luiz then gifted Liverpool two second-half goals.
Manager rating out of 10
4 -- Emery gave Pepe his first start in place of Alexandre Lacazette, while Granit Xhaka returned to the starting 11 at the expense of Reiss Nelson. A defensive approach was probably the right idea against a lethal front three, but despite a strong final 10 minutes, his side never really managed to get a foothold in the game after the break.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Bernd Leno, 5 -- Could not do much about any of the Liverpool goals. Leno produced some good routine stops, but was ultimately exposed by a poor defensive display against ruthless opposition.
DF Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 4 -- Given a torrid time by Robertson and Roberto Firminho, he never looked comfortable.
DF David Luiz, 3 -- His 250th Premier League appearance will not live long in the memory after he gave away a penalty with a naive shirt pull on Salah and was left eating dust by the same player for Liverpool's third.
DF Sokratis Papastathopoulos, 5 -- Thwarted a dangerous Salah run with a strong, perfectly-timed challenge in the first half and generally demonstrated willingness to put his body on the line, but those efforts were ultimately in vain.
DF Nacho Monreal, 4 -- Made a couple of important interceptions, but this was far from his best display.
MF Matteo Guendouzi, 5 -- Crucial in helping Arsenal get a foothold in a high-tempo first half, but was too focused on Virgil Van Dijk as Matip headed in the game's opening goal.
MF Granit Xhaka, 4 -- Made the lineup after passing a late fitness test, but struggled to cope with high tempo. He did, at least, manage to play the full 90 minutes.
MF Joe Willock, 5 -- Beat Alexander-Arnold with lovely trickery, but that was his only contribution of note. Willock's passing was sloppy and he was shrugged off the ball too easily by Sadio Mane as Liverpool nearly doubled their lead just before half-time.
MF Dani Ceballos, 4 -- Failing to build on a dazzling performance against Burnley, he made little impact and was replaced by Lucas Torreira on the hour.
FW Nicolas Pepe, 7 -- Arsenal's standout performer, Pepe showed pace and promise in his first start for the club. He was unfortunate not to open the scoring with a curling effort and looked dangerous on the counter.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 6 -- Unlucky to see a 20-yard lob drop inches wide when the game was goalless, but Aubameyang generally lacked his usual cutting edge and looked unusually hesitant when he found himself clean through later. He did set up Torreira's consolation strike.
MF Lucas Torreira, 6 -- Showed great composure to score in front of The Kop, but did little to change the course of a game that was already over by the time he was introduced.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, NR - Replaced Willock in the 80th minute and showed some attacking intent and signs of positive link-up play.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, NR -- Introduced in place of Guendouzi in the 86th minute, he had no time to make an impact.