Liverpool’s favorite punching bag, Arsenal FC, did their best impression of Conor McGregor in the 9th round, stumbling out of Anfield upon receiving their latest L in a 4-0 scoreline that, daresay, actually flattered the Londoners.
Despite the absolutely abject Gunner performance that saw wantaways Alexis Sanchez and rumoured Liverpool target Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain withdrawn inside an hour, Red’s boss, Jürgen Klopp chose to focus on his side’s impressive showing coming on the back of their resounding Champions League qualifier in midweek:
“It was a good performance—actually more than just a good performance,” the Klopp admitted. “And we deserved to win.
“I know it’s quite a challenge [to play a team like Arsenal after a European game]...but if you really want, you can do it. And we wanted to show our greed, we wanted to show our desire, we wanted to show our ambitions today, and the boys did outstandingly good.”
“I’m sure that Arsenal should’ve been able to do much better today, because they are a strong side, but we didn’t let them. That’s the most important thing. We defended really well, the different spaces where they wanted to play.”
Even if the now five match unbeaten run to the Gunners almost made the final result a formality, where there was drama was on the team sheet, as the oft-criticized Loris Karius got the start in goal over Simon Mignolet, who didn’t even make the matchday squad. Klopp, however, was quick to tamp down on the rumours already surfacing out of Belgium of a potential rift, instead reassuring fans that he had simply chosen to rest the in-form shot-stopper after a grueling run of games.
In response to a question asking whether the 29-year-old could still consider himself first choice, the German responded with a resounding endorsement, “Yes, 100%. Simon keeps the shirt. Look, I decided that I wanted to have three really strong goalkeepers. Simon Mignolet is outstanding good goalkeeper; same with Loris Karius, same with Danny Ward.
“If you have situations like this—with [players with] big ambitions and things like this—you need to keep them kind of happy,” Klopp continued. “I could’ve [rested Mignolet] later, but the thing is with the four games [in 12 days] like we played is unbelievable intense for a goalkeeper.
“I wanted to give Simon a rest. It’s not that he then said, ‘Thank you, boss. That was my idea’ but it’s just a rest, nothing else.
“We had an open race in preseason and Simon won it. That’s how it is.”
Sounds reasonable enough. But going back to the match, Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, already under fire three weeks into the new season, gave what is starting to become his stock assessment after yet another Liverpool shellacking: “From the first to the last minute, we were not physically, not technically not mentally at the level.”
Hint, Arsène: it would best to avoid Arsenal Fan TV until the end of that new contract of yours.