Liverpool lost 3-1 to Arsenal in one of their more significant Premier League games of the season on Sunday (February 4) and pundit Garth Crooks has provided a potential catalyst for the loss.
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp made the decision to bench Darwin Nunez for the game, which took Crooks by surprise. Prior to playing against the Gunners, the forward racked up five goal contributions in his last four Premier League games.
Nunez was widely expected to lead the line against Mikel Areteta’s men, as he had done so often in recent games. However, the 24-year-old striker only came on in the second half and could do little to stop his side from losing.
In his BBC Sport column, Garth Crooks wrote (via Caught Offside):
“Liverpool blew Chelsea away in midweek and I was surprised Nunez was left out of their starting line-up. There was a time when Liverpool never changed a winning side. It might be worth returning to that philosophy.”
In previous years, Jurgen Klopp has minimized rotating players, especially while aiming for the title and the Reds were at the peak of their performances. He notably relied on Mohamed Salah playing alongside Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane for most games.
The Reds are currently dealing with a number of players out of contention due to injury or international duty. This has limited the number of players Klopp can work with, but with Darwin Nunez fit, fans will be hoping to see him lead the line more often.
Arsenal 3-1 Liverpool: As it happened
The Reds left the Emirates Stadium with their tails between their legs as Arsenal handed them a 3-1 drubbing. It was an important match for both sides, with Klopp’s side looking to consolidate their position while the Gunners were hoping to close the gap on the league leaders.
Arsenal looked the much better side as Liverpool seemed stumped and uncertain about how to get past their defense. The hosts dominated the game from the starting whistle, with some impressive build-up play allowing Bukayo Saka to open the scoring early on.
The Reds fought back, thanks to some chaos in the hosts’ defense, as Gabriel scored an own goal to level the scores. However, in the second half, Arsenal continued their impressive run of form, with Gabriel Martinelli scoring the second goal and Leandro Trossard adding a third in injury time.