Saturday was painful. I went all the way up to Liverpool and was completely humiliated. Away fans who require a wheelchair are positioned to the left of the travelling supporters in the Anfield Road end so my brother and I were therefore sat in front of what became a jubilant home crowd. As you can imagine, it was awful. I sunk lower and lower in my seat as the 5 goals went in. I closed my eyes tightly at half-time when we were 4-0 down, hoping it was a nightmare but the shambolic display was unfortunately real. I was on the verge of tears. Not even our consolation goal cheered me up.
For the second time in my Arsenal supporting life (I was at the infamous 8-2 defeat to Manchester United in 2011), I left the ground questioning why I bother following the gunners over land and sea. In fact, the match was far worse than the crushing loss at Old Trafford three years ago because 5-1 was so unexpected and there were no excuses. I had a feeling that we would lose. So much so that I had butterflies in my stomach and skipped my usual pre-match burger. However, the absolute mauling came as a bit of shock to everyone.
52 seconds. That was how long it took for Liverpool to break the deadlock. Skrtel was the surprise goal scorer as he rose above the Arsenal defence to make it 1-0. Fair enough. Sometimes a team can be caught off guard with the first attack. Just need to stay composed and start again. Not capitulate so that the score reads 4-0 after 20 minutes. Then. after the break, when we needed a goal straight away to offer a tiny glimmer of hope (Newcastle came back from the same deficit against us not long ago), our defence fell asleep and again was exposed by the pace of Sterling.
Going into the clash, Arsenal were two points clear at the top so losing heavily was uncharacteristic, particularly from Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker who, before Saturday, had been unbeaten for two years when playing the full 90 minutes together. They have been so strong this season and are one of the reasons we are fighting for the Championship. The whole team was poor so it’s not as if I can make a scapegoat. That’s what compounded the misery. Normally, if Özil has an off game, Cazorla will step up but all our players failed to turn up to Anfield.
I, like all Arsenal fans, can only hope that Saturday was a bad day at the office and we can put the match to bed with a much needed win over a struggling Manchester United side. Failure to do so would mean the collapse, which pundits have been craving and I’ve been anxious about, would be well under way. Realistically, we could go from being certain to win a trophy to being odds on to finish with nothing for the 9th year in a row. A positive reaction is needed to prevent disaster.
By Glen Shorey