There’s nothing new about key Arsenal players being injured. There’s nothing new about Arsene Wenger seeing his players lose on the first day of a new Premier League season. Liverpool have beaten the strong teams with Jurgen Klopp on the sidelines last season, but the main question regarding both sides is whether or not their opening encounter is any indication of the changes we’re about to see this season.
For Arsenal, who scored first but then fell three goals behind, and then came back to almost even the score, it was a bad day. A team that looked like a mess tactically, with Alexis Sanchez in a role he’s not comfortable with, and Alex Iwobi starting for some reason, and Aaron Ramsey looking lost or just exhausted from the Euro, and more than anything, a Wenger team that looked incapable of changing their fate, if it wasn’t for some Liverpool complacency and slight arrogance from their manager.
Liverpool, despite finally winning at the Emirates, something they haven’t done since Luis Suarez suited up for them alongside Andy Carroll up front, have some things to worry about. Maybe the blame pinned on Alberto Moreno for everything wrong happening on the red side of the Mersey river is taking his mistakes a bit too far, and the heralded midfield is to blame for the Walcott goal and the inability to control the match after going 4-1 up, but it’s funny that Liverpool weren’t able of finding someone to replace the Spaniard, who remains irresponsible in his decisions, which happen to be worse in big matches.
Exciting and dynamic are probably the two words best describing Klopp’s Liverpool, quite different from Arsenal under Wenger, at least at this point. Not too many changes from last season, but the pace, high pressure and constant push forward with the ball created enormous pressure on a ragtag Arsenal defense, crumbling once Philippe Coutinho scored a beautiful free kick, and added another one before exiting for Emre Can, when things went downhill for them.
Maybe the biggest problem for Liverpool in the final 27 minutes, after Sadio Mane made it 4-1 with a perfect debut for him, was that Klopp didn’t have anyone who tends to slow down the match and build up a built of possession. Jordan Henderson, Mane, Can. They were all looking to keep exploiting the Arsenal defensive holes, when it was time to slow down the match a bit. Georgino Wijnaldum looks like another solid signing, but Liverpool will need to find a calming influence on a team that is now completely shaped by Klopp’s footballing philosophies, but exposed to his weaknesses as a manager.
The first 90 minutes of a season are often misleading, and things tend to shape into more reasonable things later on. Arsenal are probably not that terrible, although this might be the year Wenger finally seals his own fate, which should have been delivered 7 years ago. Liverpool just might be this good and this bad in the same match a lot more, which means they’re not that different from last season, and places more blame on Klopp than on his players, unless he finds a way to fix some things that have seemed to carry over from his first year at Anfield.