Arsenal suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss at the hands of Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday and according to Gary Neville, some Gunners players might have formed a ‘little mafia’.
The Gunners were obviously not the favourites going into this match but Liverpool just blew them apart, playing some of their finest football of the season. The Arsenal players, on the other hand, looked out of answers on the pitch for most of the game.
Some pundits have since come out to blame Mikel Arteta for his defensive tactics but Gary Neville has pointed fingers at some of the Arsenal players for not backing up their manager in such a crucial game.
“I was alarmed,” Neville admitted on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, as quoted by The Independent.
“We know Arsenal are inconsistent. You don’t ordinarily think it will stand out. I was really uncomfortable with what I’ve seen. I’d usually get off, but I sat around for a few minutes, I was really uncomfortable with what I saw. Usually my anger would grow over a few days.
“I have to say, coming out of Saturday, I thought there were a few players in that front three that looked like a little mafia. There was a disconnect with the manager. He [Arteta] had that glazed-eye look.
For the first time in 26 years, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are all outside the Premier League top four after 30 games 😳 pic.twitter.com/zGysp8AHKo
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 4, 2021
“The effort from that front six… They were a joke. The lack of energy. All the way through the first half I was getting more uncomfortable. Mikel Arteta, I think he would have been shocked by the lack of application.
“Liverpool won the ball back time and time again. It was a walk in the park. They never laid a finger on them. A really bad day. It was a dark moment. A cross-roads moment. I think Mikel Arteta will have come away from that game, thinking, ‘it’s me or them.’”
Arsenal have been really inconsistent this season but Saturday’s loss was a real low point for them. Not only did they allow Liverpool to dominate the game but they somehow refused to even fight back.
Mikel Arteta was acceptably cautious since Liverpool are a team who could rip Arsenal apart if they tried anything too adventurous. But the Arsenal forwards took this as an excuse to sit behind the ball for most of the match rather than trying to win the ball back in the middle of the pitch. The North London side managed only 259 forward passes during the match while Liverpool moved the ball forward a total of 439 times.
Players like Milner and Thiago completely outplayed their counterparts on the pitch as Aubameyang and Lacazette sat deep inside their own half, flooding their own defence, instead of hounding the Liverpool defenders.
Data courtesy Whoscored.