Friday 20 September 2019

Five key issues facing Arsenal after defeat to Liverpool

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suffered another disappointing defeat at a top-six rival on Sunday
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suffered another disappointing defeat at a top-six rival on Sunday

Arsenal's 4-0 capitulation at Liverpool has once again seen supporters and pundits aghast at familiar failings under manager Arsene Wenger.

Here Press Association Sport identifies five areas of improvement required for Arsenal to save their season.


Arsenal supporters are fearing Groundhog Day. There is an attitude of 'here we go again' and Arsene Wenger, as the manager approaches the 21st anniversary of his appointment, has to change something, anything, in his approach to rouse his players to perform. He needs some on-field leadership, too. Although not the quickest, club captain Per Mertesacker performed well in May's FA Cup final win and could be a temporary solution, with others not stepping up.


Wenger has some explaining to do on selection. Club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette began the loss at Anfield as a substitute. So did Sead Kolasinac, who has made a promising start in English football. And Rob Holding was exposed in the centre of defence, where he has stayed while Gabriel has left and Shkodran Mustafi could also depart.


Arsenal have played 21 league games away to fellow 'top six' clubs - Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool - since the start of the 2013-14 season. They have won two of them and not since January 2015 at City. There have been 13 defeats, including a 6-0 loss at Chelsea in Wenger's 1,000th game in charge which came five weeks after a 5-1 loss at Liverpool. Those results do not include the 8-2 loss at Manchester United in August 2011. The Gunners must improve against their direct rivals.


Alexis Sanchez is one of a number of players whose contract expires at the end of the season. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mesut Ozil are two of the others. Wenger insists Sanchez will not be sold this summer and he would prefer the Chilean to leave for free after another season's service. He must stick to his guns in the final four days of the transfer window. Then Wenger must reignite Sanchez, in particular, as without him performing at his best Arsenal have little chance. Who knows? It could even persuade Sanchez to stay.


Playing in the Europa League is an unfamiliar concept for Arsenal, having perennially been in the Champions League. They must balance playing on Thursdays in Europe and Sundays domestically. Victory in the second-tier continental competition offers a route back into the Champions League if Arsenal fall short of the top four.

PA Media

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