The fact that 5-1 was flattering to Arsenal speaks volumes for the extent of the complete capitulation that the Gunners suffered against Liverpool. After the early shock goal there would be an expectancy that the team would regroup and gain their shape. Perversely they got worse! The whole team seemed gripped by a paralysis as if they were in a daze overwhelmed by the intensity of Liverpool.
What were they expecting? That they could have the same scope for recovery that a depleted Southampton afforded them, or that a toothless Crystal Palace could offer. This was Anfield with a Liverpool team fighting for their Champions League future with the most potent attack in the Premier League. The scope for moving along in second gear and getting praised for grinding out results when they weren’t at their best is no longer available. Arsenal have to be at their very best from here on in order to succeed in picking up silverware. If they weren’t aware of that before, then they certainly are now.
This was the wake up call that Arsenal have needed since the New Year and the timing is perfect.
If we had suffered this scale of this defeat against City or Chelsea next month, then the demoralising impact of being destroyed by your nearest rival would be irreversible. The fact that we lost to a Liverpool team that we comfortably outclassed earlier in the season allows us the reasoning to believe that it was simply a case of our bad day at the office coinciding with Liverpool’s best day at the office so far under Brendan Rodgers.
The fact that we have a massive game in 4 days time against a vulnerable Man Untied is also manna from heaven. There will be a lot of anger in the Arsenal players right now and they will know that the humiliation has to be redressed. And what better way to do it than hammer our old adversaries.
There is no better qualified team to be the opponent for a credible victory right now than United. They are bad. But with the history between the two teams we could psychologically convince ourselves that they are better than they really are. Not this time though. The pain from 5-1 will be raw and no extra motivation should be required.
Finally, we have Liverpool next week in the FA Cup. If every Gooner looks deep down in their souls they will honestly admit that is our best chance of silverware this year. Winning the league would be a dream come true, but we are one injury and one defeat away from slipping out of contention.
We are no closer to Bayern this year than we were last year. We have improved, but scarily, so have they, so Champion’s League is unlikely. I’m not saying that either are impossible but the FA Cup is a good bet. If we progress to the last 8 then there is only really Chelsea/City and Everton to worry us. We also have a big score to settle with the Pool next week. Pride must be restored.
By this time next week we could be back on top of the league and in the last eight of the FA Cup thanking Liverpool for spanking us 5-1.