The return of football following the international break also saw the return of a familiar scene this season.
Arsenal took on Liverpool at the Emirates and played almost expectedly poorly, made some defensive errors and were soundly beaten – a sentence that can be applied to a number of games over the last eight months.
That Liverpool took until the 64th minute to score the first of their three goals in what was an easy win for Jurgen Klopp’s side is more a reflection of their own wastefulness than any resilience from Mikel Arteta’s team.
Arsenal’s twelfth league defeat of the season may well have ended any slim hopes of finishing in the European places so, with Slavia Prague coming up on Thursday, it’s Europa League or bust for Arteta this season.
But while they may find themselves in the last eight of the competition, if they don’t pick up their recent stuttering form, that journey will also be at an end sooner than they would like.
After this latest poor performance, Arteta has been presented with a very urgent to-do list in order to make sure Arsenal still have something to play for beyond the next fortnight.
Get Pierre to perform an Aub-out turn
Dropping his captain ahead of the north London derby was hailed by some as a masterstroke after the Gunners went on to put in an increasingly rare brilliant performance to beat their local rivals.
However, in the long run this decision looks to have backfired as it seems to have had a negative effect on the player and his confidence.
Against Liverpool, the Gabonese striker was a passenger, not helped by his teammates of course, but also looking a shadow of the mercurial striker he has been in recent years.
This off the back of an equally anonymous display at West Ham and an awful showing against Olympiakos, one wonders how much of this is down to public dressing down he received before the Tottenham game.
Arteta’s man management skills will be put to the test to try and ‘fix’ the striker he may ultimately have been responsible for breaking.
Find a settled back four
Injuries and suspensions clearly haven’t helped but Arteta’s constant chopping and changing of his backline is at least partly to blame for his side’s ongoing defensive woes.
Sure, passing the ball straight to the opposition is avoidable but these mistakes are always likely to occur when you pick a different, unfamiliar lineup every single game.
It may be tough given the inconsistencies of the personnel but the manager needs to decide who his ‘best’ defence is and make sure they play together regularly enough to build an understanding.
Until Arsenal and Arteta know their best back four then the problems will persist.
Make sure Odegaard has the help he deserves
Martin Odegaard has been a shining light for the Gunners in the second half of the season since his temporary switch from Real Madrid.
However, time is ticking on his Arsenal career and Arteta will want to get the best out of him in the remaining weeks of the season while he has the player at his disposal.
Against Liverpool, the Norweigian was isolated as Arsenal, both by design and due to Liverpool’s clear superiority, rarely saw the ball.
But if you have talent such as Odegaard in your team, your tactical approach has to be geared towards him far more effectively than we saw on Saturday night.
Have a word with his goalkeeper
Bernd Leno is not a ‘bad’ goalkeeper and probably better than most players in that position the Gunners have had to put up with down the years.
However, recent weeks have seen him almost make a glaring error as if it’s a requirement.
While he made a couple of crucial stops to keep the scoreline down against the champions, the German will be disappointed with his involvement in the first two goals he conceded.
Again, this goes back to having an unsettled defence in front of him but Arteta needs to make sure that Leno is more of a commanding figure in his position.
Change the record
At full time, Arteta made it clear that he ‘takes responsibility’ for the result.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because he said the same thing after the defeat to Aston Villa in October, and again during the dismal autumn run that had some people actually believe Arsenal could get relegated.
To some, this could worryingly be interpreted as an admission of failure and if this is messaging he is also sending to his players, what chances of them actually improving?
Constantly presenting the idea that he is the one getting it wrong suggests he may not be cut out for managing a football club at the top level and will leave people wondering why he is.
The impact of these apologies is also lessened every time which could ultimately lead to his words carrying less weight when he needs to say something worthwhile.
For many Arsenal fans the response to this post-defeat script will simply be to tell Arteta to stop saying sorry and just do better in future.