For some time now, it’s been quite funny in a way watching Arsenal fans react. Every summer appears to have the same scenario;
- The club needs a key position that could help limit the few weaknesses of the season before.
- The manager, Arsene Wenger, proceeds to do nothing about that problem.
- Arsenal have a decent pre-season, but arrive at the full season lacking fitness, form and cohesion.
- The club start in a sluggish manner before hitting a good patch of form, leading to expectations rising.
- The team fall away by March at the latest, before a late rally ensures Champions League participation.
Arsenal fans, then, must not be very shocked at what happened on Sunday. Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool turned up to a game that is very one-sided; Arsenal don’t lose to Liverpool at home, especially since the move to The Emirates Stadium.
But, given it was the first day of the season, were Gunners fans shocked at what occurred? Arsenal were 4-1 down before two consolation efforts from a Liverpool team who were already half way on the bus celebrating make it look a lot more competitive than it was. The first half was a techy affair, with Alberto Moreno and his brainless love of slide tackles giving Arsenal the chance to go ahead.
They missed the penalty, before promptly making the most of Moreno’s ability to be a terrible defender to make it 1-0 about a minute later. In true Arsenal fashion, though, they gave away a needless free kick just before half-time and Philippe Coutinho gladly obliged.
From there, Arsenal fell to pieces. The same old story began to tell itself and, within a matter of moments of the restart, went 2-1 down to a sumptuous Adam Lallana goal. In what felt like a blink of the eye, the Reds were 4-1 up with a beautiful team move and then a Sadio Mane special putting the Londoners to the sword.
The Story of the Season?
We expect that Sunday might be a microcosm of the Gunners season to come. A lot of promise, missing clear opportunities, getting ahead when it’s not expected, throwing it all away, collapsing and then finally rallying back for a little push at the end.
All in all, though, it will probably be the same as ever. Too little, too late, and nowhere near good enough for such a club.
Arsenal are a club of pretty major tradition and size; they tend to encapsulate a major part of what the Premier League is about. However, an inability to plan successfully and making the same old mistakes is a British football trait they would do well to cast off.
The Gunners used to set the tone in the 90s, with continental football and a brilliant fitness program mixed with intelligent use of the transfer market. Today, though, Arsenal feel about as British as any of the flagship clubs – for the 16-17 season, that’s no good thing.