When looking at a 3-1 scoreline you wouldn’t think their would be many positives to take away from such a defeat, however, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville was still impressed by what he saw from Arsenal during their loss to Liverpool.
Arsenal struggled to play the ball out from the back in the opening minutes of the game as Liverpool ruthlessly pressed their opponent from the kick-off.
Gunners boss Unai Emery had changed the system he had used during their opening two wins of the season, over Newcastle and Burnely, as he had decided on playing a 4-4-2 diamond formation at Anfield.
The Spaniard saw his side stick to a narrow formation, which allowed both his centre-halves to keep their central positions, but the open spaces on the flanks resulted in Liverpool’s full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson having plenty of opportunities to pepper the box with crosses.
However, it was a Joel Matip header from a corner that broke the deadlock before half-time and then a double from Mohammed Salah after the break gave Liverpool a convincing lead, before Arsenal substitute Lucas Torreira pulled one back for Emery late on.
Defeat for Arsenal means they have now failed to beat Liverpool in their last seven visits to Anfield, however, Neville was impressed by some of the things he had seen from the Gunners performance on Saturday.
“It’s difficult when you lose 3-0, it feels like you’ve taken a bit of a doing to take positives from it,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“But it feels like a… positive 3-0 defeat, if you could argue that. I’ve seen things today from Arsenal that I quite like.
“They are playing against a brilliant team, let’s be clear. They pushed Manchester City right to the end last season, a monstrous amount of points, and obviously won the Champions League, so we’re talking about one of the best in Europe.
“And that’s told today but from an Arsenal point of view we’re talking about building block by block. And I don’t mind what I’ve seen.
“Arsenal fans behind the goal might see it differently travelling back to London having lost 3-0. But I think over the season it will bear out that they will do okay.
“It’s the manner of the performance sometimes with Arsenal in the past we’ve been critical of. I’ve not seen that today, they are still going, they’ve not left anything in the changing room, it’s all out there on the pitch.
“I know it’s still a defeat but psychologically, I think even those Arsenal fans are still there, there have been times in the past when they’ve been walking out of here with 15-20 minutes to go, that’s not the case today.
“It sounds a little patronising when you’re a club as big as Arsenal to say there are positives when you’ve lost 3-1 but they are playing against a really good side.
“And I think this performance from Arsenal today will win a lot of away games this season.”
Late in the game Emery abandoned his diamond system as he introduced striker Alexandre Lacazette and defensive midfielder Torreira into the fold and implemented a mirror 4-3-3 system used by Klopp.
And Neville thinks the Uruguayan’s goal in the 85th minute shows the character of Arsenal this season as they were determined to keep playing despite the scoreline.
“I think that’s a big, big goal that for Arsenal,” Neville added.
“It won’t get them anything out of the game, but it demonstrates a character and a personality that they’re going to keep going. It’s a good moment for Arsenal.”