| 2.7°C Dublin

key moment Mikel Arteta clearly felt he needed to ruffle Liverpool’s feathers but it didn't work

Arteta made a schoolboy error last night and it came back to bite him as Liverpool hammered his side 4-0 at Anfield.

Close

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's third goal in his side's runaway 4-0 win. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's third goal in his side's runaway 4-0 win. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Mohamed Salah scores Liverpool's third goal in his side's runaway 4-0 win. Photo: Peter Byrne/PA

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta made a schoolboy error last night and it came back to bite him as Liverpool hammered his side 4-0 at Anfield.

Arteta has been in the game for long enough to know that if you are playing Liverpool under the lights in front of The Kop, the last thing you want to do is bring the fans into the equation.

Yet that’s precisely what the Arsenal boss did when he lost his temper on the touchline and started firing verbal abuse at his opposite number Jurgen Klopp half an hour into the game.

Up to that point, Liverpool had been poor and Arsenal were pretty comfortable holding them on a night when the Anfield crowd were curiously quiet.

From my position in the stands, it was clear that this was a rare night when Liverpool’s fans needed a helping hand to get behind their team and they got just that from Arteta’s episode of touchline emotion.

After my antics on the touchline when I was screaming at officials in the 1994 World Cup match in Orlando, I’m in a good place to talk about this subject and Arteta dropped the ball here.

The official who was too slow in allowing me to go on against Mexico all those years ago deserved the folly of abuse I fired at him because he was a prat!

Close

John Aldridge has a go at conflict resolution with the sideline officials during the Ireland v Mexico game at USA ’94

John Aldridge has a go at conflict resolution with the sideline officials during the Ireland v Mexico game at USA ’94

John Aldridge has a go at conflict resolution with the sideline officials during the Ireland v Mexico game at USA ’94

But Arteta’s antics last night backfired on him as it ignited the crowd, the Liverpool players responded and Sadio Mane got the vital opening goal a few minutes later.

Liverpool have had real problems holding on to leads and my concern at half-time was that they were not playing well enough to seal a win on a night when nothing less than three points would do.

Chelsea’s big 3-0 win at Leicester earlier in the day meant they were in danger of getting away at the top of the table, so Liverpool knew they had to win.

And Diogo Jota’s brilliantly taken second goal at the start of the second half eased the nerves that would have come so long as the game stood at 1-0.

Klopp will have been pleased by the response of his player in the second half and it bodes well for what is to come this season.

We have seen Liverpool surrendering leads against Brentford, Man City and Brighton in recent weeks, as they have wasted chances to kill off teams and were then made to pay.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Yet this was a different story, as Jota’s coolness in front of goal secure the vital second goal and then Mohamed Salah got the goal his performance deserved.

Takumi Minamino then added a fourth goal with his first touch and as the final whistle sounded, I was taken back to the key moment in the game provided by Arteta.

Even before Arteta’s flare-up with Klopp on the touchline, I was looking at his two centre-forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Arsenal players were badgering the officials from the first whistle to try and get Liverpool players booked and then Arteta lost his cool on the touchline as he tried to get yellow cards handed out to players in red shirts.

It reminded me of my days playing in Spain for Real Sociedad, when defenders would pull, scratch and yank at every orifice of their opponent’s body to try and get his blood boiling.

Then when they got under your skin, they would try and pretend you had inflicted a mortal wound on them in a bid to get you sent off.

It was also reminiscent of what we saw from Diego Simeone and his Atletico Madrid team, as they tried to wind Liverpool up and succeeded when they got the better of them in the Champions League a couple of years back.

We don’t normally see those kinds of antics in English football, but Arteta clearly felt he needed to ruffle Liverpool’s feathers to have a chance in the game.

Close

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (right) and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shake hands at the end of the game (Peter Byrne/PA)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (right) and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shake hands at the end of the game (Peter Byrne/PA)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta (right) and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shake hands at the end of the game (Peter Byrne/PA)

Maybe that explains why he had his little tantrum on the touchline, but whatever his plan was, it didn’t work.

On top of his plan to upset Liverpool and get their players booked, Arteta also deployed defensive tactics and was in damage limitation mode from the off, as he knew his side would be torn apart if they went toe-to-toe with Liverpool.

He was probably right in that assessment, but the absence of any serious attacking intent ensured Liverpool were in the driving seat once Mane scored the opening goal.

I still feel there is room for improvement in this Liverpool team as the first half wasn’t good enough for long periods.

Yet it can be difficult to click into gear straight away after an international break, especially when Liverpool have been badly hit by the break again as they have lost Andy Robertson and Jordan Henderson due to injuries picked up while they were playing for the national teams.

The Liverpool midfield didn’t look great in the opening half an hour last night and Henderson’s absence often causes that issue.

They always look more balanced when the captain is leading from the front, but the end result last night was all that mattered and they have to take confidence from a big win.

Now we are starting to see how this Premier League story is panning out and on a day when Manchester United turned in another embarrassing performance, it is clear that Liverpool are in a three-team race with Manchester City and Chelsea.

The latter of those two teams are setting a hot pace at the top of the table and I expect them to continue to win matches consistently as we head into the winter months, so this is another one of those seasons when slip-ups could prove to be fatal.

After their defeat at West Ham a couple of weeks back, Liverpool showed last night that they are up to the challenge of answering the call to get a result when the question is asked.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy