Arsenal’s trip to Liverpool on Saturday evening was a crunch fixture for both clubs who were looking to save their respective seasons.
While the Gunners remain in the FA Cup, finishing in the top four is their only other realistic target between now and the end of the campaign, while it is the single target Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to achieve with the Reds this season.
So with the game of big significance to both sides, it was vital that both clubs’ key players lived up to expectations and put in a solid performance, with both clubs currently in poor form.
For both sets of fans, it has been a long time since they’ve enjoyed lifting the league title, and it seemed to Gunners supporters that Arsene Wenger had already thrown in the towel on his side’s very slim title hopes wish his rather odd team selection.
Mesut Ozil failed to make the trip to Anfield due to flu, but fellow key man Alexis Sanchez was shockingly dropped to the bench against Liverpool – leaving many Arsenal fans seriously concerned he will leave the club in the summer.
In a game that could define the north London club’s season, it seemed odd that Wenger decided to drop the Chilean when a win for Liverpool would knock Arsenal out of the top four.
SANCHEZ MADE IMMEDIATE IMPACT FOR GUNNERS
And the 28-year-old made an immediate impact when he came on at half-time to set up Danny Welbeck, whose goal made it 2-1 and gave Wenger’s men hope of a comeback.
But it was not to be, as Georginio Wijnaldum netted in injury time to restore Liverpool’s two-goal advantage and secure the three points.
Roberto Firmino netted after just nine minutes, while Sadio Mane drove home his shot five minutes before the break to heap the misery on Wenger.
And following a disappointing afternoon for the Gunners – who faced a Reds team who went into the game following a 3-1 defeat to relegation-threatened Leicester – there was one moment that really epitomised a poor afternoon for Arsenal, which really wound up Arsenal fans.
Mane had already doubled the Reds’ lead by this point and was clearly running high on confidence. But with Welbeck having got Arsenal back into the game, the Senegal forward was immediately looking for a response at the other end.
MONREAL LEFT RED-FACED BY MANE
Monreal was to be his victim, as the Spaniard had to deal with the African’s pace and trickery. But it was not solely down to the Liverpool’s stars brilliant ability to get past a player that put the Reds so close to their third goal.
As can be seen in the video below, the Arsenal left-back rather pathetically sticks out his left leg – resembling something you’d expect of a novice playing football on a playground – allowing Mane to skip past and play the ball into the box.
Bin MonreaL pic.twitter.com/oI1QTvRxFP
— EmanDaGoon (@EmanDaGoonn) March 4, 2017
Gunners fans were not at all impressed with Monreal on Saturday evening – being left to rue a forgettable performance in which he was shown up by the brilliance of Mane.
Monreal trying to get home after Mane turns him inside out for 90 minutes pic.twitter.com/FBsWyqCbZD
— Niall (@Sanogology) March 4, 2017
Monreal let Mane get yards of space on all 3 goals. He needs to go in the summer. Get us a real defender. #LFCvAFC
— G.R. (@truGleb) March 4, 2017
Why the hell was Mane allowed that much space? Monreal has been getting beaten all damn day.
— Jimmy R (@NN_Gooner) March 4, 2017
Arsenal has sent Monreal on loan to Sadio Mane?
— RasamOfRealpolitik (@sidin) March 4, 2017
Floor is clean. Mane mopped it with Monreal, the whole game😂
— Which way? (@Sir_Yoko) March 4, 2017
Mane vs Monreal is like a hot knife vs butter
— Craig Wares (@CraigWares) March 4, 2017