Football Features

The last Liverpool team beaten by Arsenal is almost unrecognisable

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:32, 16 July 2020

Getting one over Liverpool in the Premier League has been a rare event for Arsenal these past few years.

So rare, in fact, that they headed into matchday 36 of the 2019/20 season on a a nine-match winless run that included a handful of humbling defeats at Anfield. The Reds even owned a spotless record against Arsenal under Jurgen Klopp.

But that would change one July evening, when Alexandre Lacazette inspired the Gunners’ first victory at Liverpool’s expense since April 2015, six months before ‘Kloppo’ took charge in Merseyside.

Naturally, given half a decade had passed it was a very different looking team. A year earlier, Brendan Rodgers’ men had beaten Arsenal 5-1 on their way to an agonising near-miss in attempting to end the club’s lengthy championship drought, a spectre Klopp recently exorcised.

Both clubs back then were in the hunt for a top-four place and its reward of  Champions League football in the subsequent season. It would be Arsenal, then led by legendary manager Arsene Wenger, who accomplished that objective while Liverpool missed out.

And the club’s future would have seemed pretty bright in the aftermath of that Emirates success. Opening goalscorer Héctor Bellerín was 20 and, in Wenger’s words, “one of the surprises of the season” such was his breakthrough form. Mesut Özil scored a free kick to continue a hot streak of seven goal involvements across eight Premier League games, comprised of four assist and three goals.

“What he does is always classy and intelligent,” Wenger said of the German playmaker in his post-match interview. “The timing of his passes is fantastic. You’d love to play with him.”

The goal of the game (see above) came from Alexis Sánchez just before the interval while Olivier Giroud found Arsenal’s fourth in the second half. Jordan Henderson scored Liverpool’s consolation goal from the spot, after Raheem Sterling won a penalty.

LIVERPOOL XI THAT LOST 4-1 TO ARSENAL IN 2015

Sterling went to City the next summer, leaving behind a struggling Liverpool team virtually unrecognisable from the team about to lift  their first-ever Premier League trophy. Starting with…

GK: Simon Mignolet

Age: 32
Liverpool appearances: 204
Current club: Club Brugge

Liverpool’s undisputed number one until a few years ago. Simon Mignolet joined the Reds from Sunderland in 2013 before going on to make 155 league appearances. His career at Anfield started with a match-winning penalty save vs Stoke City but awkward moments would see the Belgian shot-stopper displaced by Loris Karius several seasons later.

Both have been usurped by Alisson, though Karius remains attached to the club. Mignolet eventually moved on to homeland club Club Brugge in 2019, where he’s since lifted the national championship.

CB: Emre Can

Age: 26
Liverpool appearances: 167
Current club: Borussia Dortmund

Can was very much Liverpool’s utility man during his stint at the club. He was able to slot into defence or midfield and under Rodgers he’d often play centre-back. Such was the case in this unfortunate performance against Arsenal, in which he was shown a red card after 84 minutes.

Following the arrival of Klopp, the German midfielder would hold down a regular place in his starting XI but the expiration of his contract in summer 2018 allowed Juventus to poach him. It was not too long before he moved on yet again to Borussia Dortmund, where he hopes to play a key role in their push to end Bayern Munich’s domestic supremacy.

CB: Mamadou Sakho

Age: 30
Liverpool appearances: 80
Current club: Crystal Palace

An early casualty of the current administration. Sakho felt like a first choice pick with Rodgers at the helm but the French international would be moved on before Klopp’s first complete season in charge. He was sent home during their pre-season tour of the United States for disciplinary reasons and soon after left the club. Sakho remains in the Premier League with Crystal Palace though has been struggling with injuries of late.

CB: Kolo Touré

Kolo Toure and Liverpool's defence v Arsenal in 2015's 4-1 defeat

Age: 39
Liverpool appearances: 71
Current club: Retired

The former ‘invincible’ enjoyed Premier League successes at Arsenal and then Manchester City but couldn’t make it a hat-trick at Liverpool.

He did, however, lift the title in Scotland while representing Celtic, then managed by his former Reds manager Rodgers. After calling time on an illustrious playing career, Toure became part of Celtic’s backroom staff before joining him down south at Leicester City, where they are currently based.

RWB: Jordan Henderson

Age: 30
Liverpool appearances: 364
Current club: Liverpool

Steven Gerrard’s departure left a gaping hole in Liverpool’s midfield, as well as when it came to on-field leadership. Henderson, who shadowed the legendary Reds captain, inherited the armband but it would take him a while to make the role his own as well as winning supporters over. Now effectively playing in the centre of the park — the former Sunderland man was utilised in a more unfamiliar right wing-back berth at the Emirates Stadium — he will soon be the first Liverpool captain since Alan Hansen to lift English football’s top prize.

CM: Joe Allen

Age: 30
Liverpool appearances: 132
Current club: Stoke City

Having previously worked for Rodgers at Swansea, where he became affectionately known as the “Welsh Xavi”, it made a great deal of sense when Liverpool reunited the pair. Allen was never flash, instead a steadyhand that brought a degree of serenity.

On this occasion, though, he was simply overrun by Arsenal’s energetic midfielders, notably compatriot Aaron Ramsey who created half of their goals. After playing 33 times under Klopp, he’d relocate to Stoke City where he’s still playing his football.

CM: Lucas Leiva

Age: 33
Liverpool appearances: 346
Current club: Lazio

It took a while for Liverpool supporters to fully embrace this Brazilian midfielder, which goes to show the importance of patience. Lucas left Anfield as a bit of a cult hero and remains a semi-popular figure (in turn, looking at his Twitter, it seems he still keeps tabs on them).

Now at Lazio — after making over 300 appearances — the former 22-time Brazil international has played regularly during their resurgence in Italian football.

LWB: Alberto Moreno

Age: 28
Liverpool appearances: 141
Current club: Villarreal

Quite the opposite to Lucas, though he enjoyed plenty of good moments (such as lifting the Champions League title), Moreno’s departure wasn’t met with much sadness. Instead it was a decision some felt should have been made sooner. The much-maligned left-back is now back in his native Spain representing Villarreal.

AM: Lazar Markovic

Age: 26
Liverpool appearances: 34
Current club: Partizan Belgrade

It never really got started for Markovic, who joined Liverpool from Benfica in 2013 under a cloud of promise. That fanfare would fall to the wayside as minutes became scarce. This subsequently led to four different loan spells before he permanently joined Fulham, though his time in west London was brief and Markovic soon after completed a return to his boyhood club Partizan Belgrade.

AM: Philippe Coutinho

Age: 28
Liverpool appearances: 201
Current club: Bayern Munich (on loan from Barcelona)

Another who felt leaving Anfield would benefit his career. A firm crowd favourite, the Brazilian playmaker was undoubtedly a talismanic figure (one who became renowned for his long-range efforts) but couldn’t resist the pull of Barcelona. His time at the Camp Nou has been largely ineffectual. The resulting loan move to Bayern aroused a sense of promise but it never came about. Now in limbo, it remains to be seen where Coutinho’s future lies.

CF: Raheem Sterling

Age: 25
Liverpool appearances: 129
Current club: Manchester City

This would be one of Sterling’s last appearances for Liverpool before he joined Manchester City the following summer. In fact, the game came not long after his infamous BBC interview in which he tacitly expressed a desire to leave.

In the aftermath of the 4-1 loss to Arsenal, Rodgers condemned Sterling’s representatives, telling reporters: “You are not a 20-year-old boy and you pick up the phone and ask to speak to the BBC. You don’t do it. Him in particular. But, of course, if he is asked to do that by other parties then that is what he’ll do.

“In the modern game it’s something that would frustrate us all. It’s the market. In fairness to Raheem, I brought Raheem in from the youth team so I know the kid well and I know a big part of this is nothing to do with him.”

Despite speculation suggesting the situation had become a distraction, it is worth noting Sterling won his team’s penalty that day and his manager described his performance as “outstanding”.

It would soon be one of Liverpool’s rivals who got to enjoy his contributions however and, unlike others in this article, his transfer cannot be classed as anything other than a success. The 56-time England international forward would lift back-to-back Premier League titles with City as well as collecting plenty more domestic silverware. Since joining the Mancunian-based club, and especially working under Pep Guardiola, he’s gone from inconsistent to world-class. To date, he’s registered 96 goals across 238 matches in all competitions.

Substitute (CF): Daniel Sturridge

Age: 30
Liverpool appearances: 160
Current club: Unattached

On his day, Sturridge was the league’s most dangerous centre-forward around about this time. But those occasions became all too rare as he was another blighted with unfortunate physical setbacks. That said, when available the former Manchester City academy graduate seldom let his manager down. A move to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in 2019 represented a fresh start but that was cut short after his contract was terminated on the day he was handed a worldwide ban after being found guilty of breaching betting rules.

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