Whether it was on the run of play or on the scoresheet, Liverpool spent most of Saturday afternoon playing catch-up. They had their moments, most of which were captive to a ten-minute spell after they survived an early Arsenal onslaught, but on the whole they once again struggled to create much of note in front of goal. The introduction of Daniel Sturridge did little to change that, and while a penalty won by Raheem Sterling and converted by Jordan Henderson temporarily reduced the deficit, the gulf in class was clear, particularly in front of goal.
It's there that Liverpool might have benefited from the services of Mario Balotelli, who, despite operating on the fringes due to a clearly fractured relationship with Brendan Rodgers, has been among the more consistent attacking threats since the new year. He hasn't been a world-beater, but in a squad struggling for ideas and creativity in front of goal, he's been mostly excellent, and some had him tipped for an appearance today.
That he didn't even make the squad was confusing, then, and Rodgers made quick mention of the striker's omission before moving on in his post-match comments:
"He trained yesterday afternoon with the team and he took a knock, a slight knock to his knee, and he deemed it not able to travel with the team."
Just ambiguous to give way to speculation about the real reasons that Balotelli would have decided not to join the squad for today's loss, then. Hopefully he's back fit and available for selection on Wednesday, as Rodgers is going to need all the help he can get after being forced into a tactical overhaul given the absence of Emre Can and Martin Skrtel and the ongoing struggles of a formation that looks to have worn out its welcome.