Calamity Luiz: How Defender Dashed Arsenal’s Hope

Arsenal’s scant consolation in losing to Liverpool is that they have got their annual visit to Anfield out of the way early – and this defeat was not quite as harrowing as some suffered in recent seasons.

The statistics after this 3-1 loss, which left Liverpool with the only 100% record in the Premier League, lay like rubble around the feet of manager Unai Emery and his side.

Arsenal have conceded 25 goals in their past seven visits to Anfield. Since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool in October 2015 they have scored 26 goals in eight Premier League games against the Gunners – the most one side has against another in that period.
As a measure of Arsenal’s progress and expectations this does not offer much optimism, despite it being an improvement on last season’s 5-1 loss and the 4-0 defeat in Arsene Wenger’s final season.

There were moments during the first half when Arsenal were actually in this game despite an inexplicable desire to play out from the back and into the numerous traps set by Liverpool.

The result was bad. The attitude and most of the performance was not.

Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s impressive record signing at £72m, should have scored when he was straight through only to be denied by Adrian. He also curled an effort just wide and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang narrowly failed to capitalise on another failure with the feet from Liverpool’s deputy goalkeeper.

And yet, for all that, Arsenal once again ended well beaten.

It is not much of a consolation to say things were not quite as bad as the other times and Arsenal’s excuses are wiped out by the fact the most grievous wound of all was self-inflicted by one man.

The biggest clue in their £8m signing of David Luiz was Chelsea manager Frank Lampard’s lack of inclination to keep the Brazilian despite being short of experienced resources in central defence. He did not exactly offer to drive the 32-year-old to Emirates Stadium but it did not sound too far off.

The haste with which Chelsea appeared to be willing to send Luiz across London may have had some clubs smelling a rat but Arsenal took a very high-risk gamble.

And there was a graphic, horrible, illustration of how big this gamble is in one moment of crass stupidity by Luiz that snuffed out Arsenal’s chances in an instant.

Emery will have talked up Arsenal’s hopes of recovery at half-time. One goal down. Chances created. Pace and threat from Pepe and Aubameyang. Oh – and no stupid mistakes.

Cue Luiz effectively ripping Emery’s plans before his very eyes four minutes after the interval when he inexplicably chose to drag back Mohamed Salah in the area, the extended hand and the stretched red shirt visible to everyone inside Anfield.

Salah rammed home the penalty and then Luiz compounded the error by over-committing against the Egyptian at the start of a brilliant run that ended with him scoring Liverpool’s third.

In his defence, the Brazilian defender called his actions “a reflex” and went on to say the yellow card that followed the award of Liverpool’s penalty had prevented him from committing a “foul” on Salah nine minutes later.

No-one can say Arsenal did not know what they were getting when they acquired Luiz. For all the talent there is a giant streak of liability running straight through him. This was liability Luiz.

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