Our captain cut a forlorn figure at a desolate Anfield.
The most telling moment of all came as the clock winded down. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was fed in behind for the first time in 91 minutes, kept the ball well under pressure and fed Eddie Nketiah in a promising position. Unable to get his shot off, the block came in and Arsenal could only win a corner.
Disappointment etched across his face, he uttered something in French – which we can assume is wasn’t PG – and the chance went begging. That was the only noticeable time throughout the entire Anfield battle that the 31-year-old had a worthwhile sniff at goal.
Harrowing down possession and covering spaces on the left, he still had the energy reserves to make that lung-bursting sprint. Even his first touch was a delicate caress not akin to someone who’d run himself into the ground under the Merseyside floodlights.
But that was pretty much it.
Aubameyang’s grievances were clear to see. No amount of tactical discipline or work off the ball could mask his frustrations. He was asked to do a job he worked tirelessly on, but even when the ball escaped him, or Liverpool one-touched their way past him, his body language altered.
It’s no surprise. You can’t even call it scraps. He was feeding off bones.
Aubameyang’s Lack of Arsenal Service
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, for all his qualities, comes up short in the final third. Clever movement opens up enticing areas in the final two thirds. However, as seen with his distribution in that area, a lack of ability in that department is stark – see fortuitous opening goal.
One can imagine that if Kieran Tierney were the one picking up those space then the story might have had a different outcome. For Aubameyang, he was left to wait in anticipation for an out-ball, one that never came.
This is not solely a wing-back issue, though. Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny are not progressive midfielders. They have their own qualities, but like Maitland-Niles, they offer little potency in the final third.
We mustn’t be overly harsh, or critical. Liverpool, even away from Anfield, are on a different planet. Arsenal are yet to leave base.
But these are areas that when plugged with the right pegs, can unleash a striker not just craving, but deserving of adequate service and attention.