3 things learned

Three things learned: Liverpool v. Arsenal

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The CliffsNotes of Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat of Arsenal says one team was much better than the other, who didn’t choose its lineup well and couldn’t take advantage of a defense that doesn’t look ready to match wits with the best in the world.

[ MORE: Match recap | Stars and duds ]

Mohamed Salah was amazing, Unai Emery was uninspiring, and Arsenal’s attack joined Norwich City and Southampton in howling, “What if?” in a fun match that never really threatened to go in any direction other than that of the reigning European champions.

Take your few chances versus Liverpool, or die

Over the last two months, Liverpool may have allowed more dynamite scoring chances than they did over the second half of the 2018-19 season.

If you don’t cash in those chips against them, you might as well call it a day.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t convert a difficult angle into the goal after Adrian made a massive first half gaffe, and Nicolas Pepe missed a chance to put the Gunners on the board when Adrian saved his low effort off a Jordan Henderson giveaway

Aubameyang took too long to shoot when another giveaway put him through on goal, and Matip caught up to the Gabon star. Still, a prime chance.

We’ve seen time and again this early season that Liverpool opens up at the back, but Arsenal’s stars did like Danny Ings in Week Two and pretty much all of Norwich City’s attack on Opening Day, and got the same result as their PL peers.

Now, perhaps if Unai Emery had started Alexandre Lacazette, too, well… let’s just say Jurgen Klopp was pretty thankful to not have that problem.

That said, Liverpool still foiled in bid for long-sought clean sheet

Preseason is preseason, but the Reds usually imperious defense had dragged its sloppy form from summer into the Premier League.

Liverpool kept a clean sheet in its preseason opener against Tranmere Rovers, and went on to concede 12 in the next six friendlies. Norwich City and Southampton both managed a goal in the Reds’ first two PL outings, but there were plenty of misses (See Danny Ings’ attempted flick equalizer in Week Two).

Throw in 1-1 and 2-2 score lines in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup matches, and Liverpool hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 10 outings.

Now we’ve documented how this was still not a luxurious example of the Reds’ defending prowess but, given Arsenal’s attack, a clean sheet would have still loomed larger than any of their other performances this season. Instead, Torreira’s goal a mild red flag as Liverpool’s failure to hang a ‘0’ on the board for the 11th-straight occasion.

Instead, the questions rightly remain. What will happen when the attack isn’t so prolific?

Mo’ Mo, please

When you’ve got a magnificent team like Liverpool, there’s a temptation to magnify ancillary pieces or second stars over the best attacker on the team.

Please don’t make that mistake, Reds fans.

Mohamed Salah is one of the best players in the world, and he’s a touch above any one on the attacking unit in terms of importance. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are splendid players who would be the best on any number of teams, but Salah they are not.

He’s stronger than he looks, and will plant his legs into the pitch to hold position. He’s legs whir like the roadrunner, and he’s so clever both will and without the ball. To boot, Salah hasn’t yet had to embellish to win a penalty yet this season, literally the only knock against him (and also an asset for his team, whether you like it or not).

Now whether Salah or Virgil Van Dijk is more important to the team, well, that’s a great debate for your next time watching with friends.