Jurgen Klopp’s raiders rub salt in Wenger’s wounds

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger already facing questions after opening-day defeat

It was one of those moments when the fine lines of sport suddenly crack open into a chasm. Sadio Mane's lashed strike to put Liverpool 4-1 up sent an electric charge of excitement through his team, his manager, his supporters. Liverpool's players clambered onto Jurgen Klopp, a euphoric, bundled piggyback of childlike joy.

Just a few yards along the touchline, across the chasm, Arsène Wenger sat quietly in his dugout. Punctured. Behind him he must have felt the heat of angry fingers pointing.

Wenger is an eternal optimist when it comes to seeing the best in his players, hoping they will seize their opportunities and raise themselves to their highest bars instead of planning to cover worst-case scenarios. That, coupled with his reluctance to overload a squad he hopes will soon welcome back the experience of Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud, formed his thinking this summer. Yet here he was, day one, confronted by complications that did not exactly appear out of thin air.


Although Arsenal recovered a sheen of respectability as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and


Calum Chambers

grabbed the goals that made this appear a narrow loss rather than a hiding, the damage caused by the sight of Liverpool parading their peacock feathers, showing a strong and exciting (if not yet anywhere near defensively sound)

Premier League

hand, shone a light on the pressure already on Wenger.

Arsenal have been here before with roosting chickens very much at home at the Emirates on day one of a new campaign. This time last year West Ham rocked up supposedly fragile with a 16-year-old Reece Oxford in their ranks only for Slaven Bilic's enthusiastic band to run the show. A couple of seasons before, Aston Villa, picked off Arsenal to win 3-1.

Wenger might not be in any mood to panic on the back of a wild, swinging, seven-goal, opening day fandago. After all they finished second last season after a bad start which was better than most. But the bigger picture tells the tale of an unfinished squad, a sense of perpetual juggling to try to cover vulnerabilities.

This is his team, his planning, his preparation, and the evidence on the pitch confirmed all the concerns that were obvious for most of the summer.

All of the Liverpool goals were sensational in execution. Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick and slick flick were both superb.


Adam Lallana

and Mane finished with aplomb. Georginio Wijnaldum impressed linking the midfield core to a more creative zone. Klopp could be glad with the mixture of talent that eked out some startling moments involving the old and the new, even though he noted there was still considerable improvement to be found in terms of tactical compactness.

Liverpool, still a work in progress, managed stunning moments. Observing that had the effect of salt in Arsenal wounds. Guardian Service