Arsenal defence, midfield go missing at Liverpool as Gunners already in crisis
A rampant Liverpool humiliated Arsenal with a 4-0 hammering at Anfield on Sunday. Any idea that this season might finally be the year the Gunners mount a credible challenge for the Premier League title evaporated over 90 agonising minutes.
Arsenal did not compete with Jurgen Klopp's men tactically, physically or technically. They fell behind to a header from Roberto Firmino before Sadio Mane cut inside to double the lead. After the break, Mohamed Salah raced clear to seal the win before Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to grab a deserved fourth.
Arsenal, for their part, did not muster a single shot on target.
There really is nothing good to say about this Arsenal performance. It was one of the worst displays an Arsene Wenger team has ever produced.
Where to begin? Arsenal were disappointing against Stoke but were far worse at Anfield. This is a team that can't defend, with no discernible midfield, and this is a team that hasn't scored in their past two outings.
Arsenal's season feels like it has already lurched into crisis, and it's only a few weeks old. The most depressing thing for fans of the Gunners is that Wenger's new contract means they could be set for two more years of this.
2 (out of 10) -- This was a disastrous day for Wenger. He picked a strange team, leaving summer signings Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette on the bench. However, the most damning aspect of the afternoon was the manner in which his team simply failed to perform for him.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 7 -- Arguably the only Arsenal player to emerge with any credit, Cech made a string of saves to prevent the scoreline becoming a farce. He had no real chance with any of the Liverpool goals and must curse his fortune that he's playing behind such a porous defence.
DF Rob Holding, 4 -- At the current rate, Holding is on course to follow a similar path to Calum Chambers. Arsenal can be a difficult place for a young centre-half to learn his trade, and right now the former Bolton man looks bereft of confidence.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 5 -- Perhaps it was inevitable that Arsenal's captain would show a bit of ring rust. He'll be particularly disappointed that Firmino escaped him to head home the opening goal.
DF Nacho Monreal, 5 -- The Spaniard had a torrid afternoon against the pace of Salah. In fairness, he was given little support in the first half by his compatriot Hector Bellerin, who looked decidedly out of sorts playing as a left wing-back.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 4 -- If this was Oxlade-Chamberlain's last appearance for Arsenal, it was not a memorable one. Wenger seems to have made a particular effort to include him in the starting lineup recently, but the England international has done little to justify his position. Assuming he won't sign a new deal, he'll surely be sold in the coming days. On this evidence, he doesn't stand much chance of getting in the Liverpool side.
MF Hector Bellerin, 3 -- Played out of position on the left in the first half, Bellerin had a personal nightmare. After the break, he switched to a more familiar role, but things didn't get much better. It was his fluffed clearance that enabled Salah to run through and score the third goal, which killed the game.
MF Granit Xhaka, 3 -- In each of Arsenal's three Premier League games this season, a poor pass from Xhaka has led to an opposition goal. The Swiss midfielder might have produced two assists on the opening day against Leicester, but he has otherwise been very sloppy. Arsenal's midfield is a mess, and he is certainly part of the problem.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 3 -- The fact that Ramsey was hauled off at half-time tells you all you need to know about his performance. The Welshman played with so little discipline, at times it felt like he was operating as an extra striker rather than a central midfielder. Ramsey has plenty of talent, but thus far, Wenger has struggled to find a functional role for him in this team.
FW Mesut Ozil, 5 -- When things go against Arsenal, Ozil tends to disappear. This, unfortunately, was another one of those occasions. It's actually quite difficult to rate someone you barely notice.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 5 -- Arsenal's star man is back, but for how long? There are still a few days left in the transfer window, and after this shameful result, he'll presumably be doing all he can to engineer a move. Alexis didn't have much impact against Liverpool, simply because Arsenal couldn't seem to get him the ball.
FW Danny Welbeck, 4 -- If it was a surprise to see Welbeck start the game, it wasn't a surprise to see him spoon his first decent chance over the bar. Wenger is a huge admirer of the striker's work rate and movement, but he just doesn't have the cutting edge required at the top level.
MF Francis Coquelin, 5 -- Came on for Ramsey and did at least add some bite and energy to the Arsenal midfield.
FW Olivier Giroud, 5 -- Replaced Alexis shortly after the hour mark but couldn't get into the game.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 5 -- Introduced for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal's record signing found himself confined to the left wing.
James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.