Liverpool were soundly beaten 4-1 by Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon, and we round-up the best reaction from Sunday’s back pages.
Sometimes matches come along that you simply want to forget ever existed as a Liverpool fan. This was most certainly one of them.
Barring a brief spell of dominance in the first-half, Arsenal were rampant against Brendan Rodgers’ side, scoring three goals in eight disastrous minutes before half-time.
As long as Liverpool are willing to offer a new deal to Kolo Toure, Raheem Sterling isn't their biggest contract problem.
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) April 4, 2015
The eventual 4-1 final score was actually flattering on the Reds, who never got going and had poor performers throughout the side.
The defeat means Liverpool’s top-four chances are all but over, despite Man United‘s potentially tricky run-in, and this result coupled with the loss to United two weeks ago will always be remembered as the moment Rodgers’ men fell to pieces.
The Liverpool Echo‘s James Pearce rued those last two performances, particularly after such a promising run of form prior to it:
How quickly things have unravelled. Momentum has been lost. Liverpool’s revival has been unceremoniously halted.
A fortnight ago Brendan Rodgers’ buoyant side were licking their lips in anticipation at embarking on a revenge mission against Manchester United.
A 13-game unbeaten Premier League run had provided the platform for the Reds to push on and achieve their target of Champions League qualification. Now those hopes lie in tatters. Rather than showcase their top-four credentials, Liverpool have been found wanting.
Damaging back to back defeats to United and Arsenal have effectively ended the Reds’ interest in the tussle at the top end of the table.All that hard work to get themselves back in contention has been squandered.
In a week dominated by headlines surrounding Raheem Sterling’s stalled contract negotiations, The Guardian‘s Barney Ronay was eager to point out the contrast in the 20-year-old and his Arsenal counterparts:
For Sterling there was also something telling in the details of a match decided by eight minutes of high-grade attacking incision led by two players Arsenal have splurged heavily on in the last two years. Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez both cost less than Sterling’s proposed £50m price tag. Both are proven heavyweights of European club football. Both were stars of the World Cup. And both are, for now anyway, in a different league to a player who has in 14 months of regular first-team football seen his achievements – not his talent, which is undoubted – puffed out of all proportion by Premier League bombast and the lucrative modern burden of playing for England.
At half time, the Liverpool fans struck up with a hopeful chorus of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, as they once did in Istanbul on another occasion when they were 3-0 down at half time. This time though it felt more like a lament for lost opportunities.
For this was no Istanbul and Champions League victories and even qualification for the tournament seem an awful long way off after this crushing defeat.
Liverpool, though good at times in that bizarre first half, were ultimately undone by their awful habit of conceding possession and defending dreadfully. Even without Martin Skrtel, it was an unacceptable display, not least when a £20m centre half in Dejan Lovren was sat on the bench.
Ian Doyle of the Echo was critical of the Reds’ lack of goalscoring threat, which has been noticeable all season long:
Three goals in four games hardly registers as a huge crisis for any club. But having found the onion bag for fun last season, Liverpool are ultimately being hamstrung by an inability to make the most of their opportunities.
We all know the reasons for that. That, though, doesn’t make the situation any more palatable. Henderson’s penalty at the Emirates (once he’d checked over his shoulder Mario Balotelli wasn’t in the vicinity) made him the Reds’ equal joint goalscorer in the Premier League for the season. He’s scored six times.
When Liverpool ponder why, as is almost certain, they missed out on the Champions League, the lack of a regular goalscorer will surely be up there.
One of the more bizarre early selection decisions centred around Jordan Henderson. Now, him being picked is no shock, him being picked at right wing-back definitely was.
In the form of his life at the heart of the midfield, Henderson was shifted outside in a surprise tactical rejig. Rodgers clearly had his reasons – Henderson’s energy and work-rate lend themselves to such a role, for example – but whatever the thought process it backfired spectacularly.
The problem was two-fold: not only is Henderson not a right wing-back, that much was clear to most before today, but his absence in the middle hurt Liverpool’s back three with options in possession painfully limited from the off.
As it was, he finished the game with a goal to his name from the penalty spot, but it was hardly a vintage performance from the No.14 and heir-apparent at Anfield.