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Gunner get you: Cedric keeps close tabs on Liverpool scorer Minamino

Gunner get you: Cedric keeps close tabs on Liverpool scorer Minamino

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Man for the big occasion: Aubameyang stole the show yet again

Man for the big occasion: Aubameyang stole the show yet again

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Gunner get you: Cedric keeps close tabs on Liverpool scorer Minamino

THERE was never any doubt that Arsenal would win the Community Shield when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stepped up to take the decisive penalty in the shoot-out at Wembley yesterday.

Liverpool were well off their best in the pre-season opener, and while Arsenal didn't offer much of a threat aside from the brilliant Aubameyang, a striker of his quality was never going to miss from the spot when his chance came.

Defeat is not an emotion Reds boss Jurgen Klopp enjoys and there will be certain aspects of his side's performance that will concern him - in particular, the form of his front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Their lacklustre displays contributed to a result that will give Klopp plenty to think about with the new season two weeks away. I hope it was a wake-up call for a few of the big names who failed to fire in a game that deserves to be taken seriously.

What used to be called the Charity Shield is a game that is well worth going after, and I speak from personal experience as I am proud of my winners' medal from the game in 1988.

I scored twice as Liverpool beat Wimbledon in that game, and I also remember watching from the stands as Liverpool played Leeds in the 1974 Charity Shield when Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner got sent-off for fighting each other.

Liverpool started brightly, but they were rocked onto the ropes as Aubameyang scored a fine opening goal to give a defensive-minded Arsenal the early advantage they craved.

Nico Williams had a problem as Arsenal had an overlap on his flank and he couldn't commit to closing down Aubameyang.

The finish served up by the Arsenal captain was world class.

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Man for the big occasion: Aubameyang stole the show yet again

Man for the big occasion: Aubameyang stole the show yet again

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Man for the big occasion: Aubameyang stole the show yet again

This guy is a special striker, the one player Arsenal have in their ranks that can unsettle the opposition. His goals won them the FA Cup final against Chelsea at the start of this month. With the club still trying to tie him down to a new contract, he might just have added a few extra quid onto his asking price with that goal yesterday.

Arsenal without Aubameyang would be a very ordinary side, and I'd be amazed if they don't give him what he is asking for to make sure they get his signature on a new contract before the new season gets underway.

Needed

Young Nico will learn from that. He is still finding his feet at this level, but he needed to try and keep Aubameyang on his left foot in that situation. Once he gave him a chance to shoot at goal, there was always a danger he would deliver - and he didn't disappoint.

It reminded me of Trent Alexander-Arnold being turned inside out as Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United at Old Trafford a couple of years back. He learned from that mistake to turn himself into one of the best full-backs in the world.

Nico has to look at what happened yesterday and try to work out how he can do better next time because there is a fantastic player in the making there. I have high hopes he can be a valuable addition to this talented Liverpool squad.

That goal came against the run of play, but Arsenal grew into the game after the opening goal. You could see their confidence growing as they tried to capitalise on a few defensive slips by Liverpool.

Mikel Arteta's tactics were not difficult to work out as he got as many men behind the ball as possible when Liverpool had it. We even saw Aubameyang in the full-back position at times when Liverpool tried to push them back.

It worked to perfection for Arteta in the first half.

Even though Liverpool had lots of possession and gave them some trouble at the back, their keeper didn't have a save to make in the opening 45 minutes.

Liverpool just didn't get enough from their front three in that opening half, with Salah and Firmino, in particular, failing to spark against an Arsenal side that didn't give them the space they need to work their magic.

I would have considered taking Firmino off at half-time and throwing Naby Keita into the fray because the front three were not gelling for once. And questions have to be asked of Salah. He really wasn't at the races.

He didn't look right yesterday, gave the ball away too much, lacked the spark we know he possesses and served up one of the worst performances I can remember from him in a Liverpool jersey.

I would have taken him off at half-time to protect him. When you play that badly, it does not help a player of his quality to leave him on there to suffer.

Worry

It was a surprise to me that Salah remained on the pitch when Minamino was thrown on by Klopp just before the hour mark.

The manner of his performance was so poor that it had to worry his manager.

Liverpool fans have to hope this is just a pre-season issue for Salah because we know how brilliant he can be when his focus and motivation is where it should be, but that game became a struggle for Mo and a lot of the Liverpool players yesterday.

Firmino was also off the pace and Klopp took him off in the final few minutes as he threw Curtis Jones into the fray in a bid to find a late winner. You always felt it was there for the taking.

When you see an Arsenal defence led by David Luiz and Rob Holding, Liverpool's front three should have been licking their lips.

Yet, they continued to fluff their lines when they got themselves into decent positions.

Klopp went for it with his second-half substitutions as Liverpool effectively played a 4-2-4 formation, with Minamino playing in a front four against the Arsenal defensive banks.

After knocking at the door time and again, the goal they deserved finally arrived.

It was great to see Minamino get his first goal for Liverpool as he snatched a deserved equaliser after 73 minutes.

He has been at the club for a decent amount of time now and that first goal was needed.

Hopefully it allows him to grow into his role as back-up striker at the club.

In the end, the taste of defeat was hard to accept against Arsenal once again.

While this is not the moment for Liverpool to panic by any means, there are some concerns there for Klopp (left) with the Premier League opener against Leeds looming large on the horizon.

He will have taken note, I'm sure.

Irish Independent