Premier League • England

Pundit finished with ‘League One’ standard Liverpool star, but warns ‘clumsy’ Arsenal liability will cost Arteta

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gabriel Jesus, October 2022

Jamie O’Hara felt Gabriel Magalhaes is a potential Arsenal weak point amid their impressive form, but gave Liverpool a much harder time.

The former Premier League star was reacting to the Gunners’ 3-2 win over the Reds on Sunday. Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were the stars of the show for Mikel Arteta’s men at the Emirates Stadium.

Darwin Nunez and Roberto Firmino replied for Liverpool, but their defence – paired with the class and confidence of Arsenal’s front line – cost them.

Mikel Arteta’s side subsequently went back to the top of the Premier League table. And they earned further praise for all aspects of their play, but especially the manager’s tactics.

However, Liverpool felt they could have had a penalty on Sunday. The ball hit Arsenal defender Gabriel’s arm from Diogo Jota’s shot.

According to former Tottenham man O’Hara, referee Michael Oliver ignored a “stonewall” decision. The pundit also warned that Brazilian Gabriel is a weak point for the Gunners.

“I do still think you can get at them at the back,” O’Hara told talkSPORT (10/10, 8.12am). “Gabriel, for me, he’s clumsy, he’s got mistakes in him. Liverpool should’ve had a stonewall penalty where it’s hit his arm.

“But, as a team, they’re really solid, really complete, playing with confidence and it’s horrible to watch.”

However, O’Hara gave Liverpool a much harder time after they remained winless away from home in the Premier League this season.

Arsenal man criticised, but Liverpool ripped apart

The pundit labelled Liverpool “shocking at the back”, an “absolute shambles” and “useless”. He claimed right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is “playing with ice skates on” and is “all over the place”.

O’Hara then stuck with his criticism of Alexander-Arnold, claiming he is League One standard in defence.

“If I was playing now against Liverpool, the first thing the manager would be saying is, ‘Get the ball out left, get one-on-one with Trent’, because defensively… he’s a League One defender,” O’Hara said.

“It’s League One defending, but he’s Champions League going forwards. [Jurgen] Klopp knows that, he loves his attacking abilities, but defensively he’s all over the place.

“The second goal, where’s he going? He’s Bambi on ice! I love Trent, he’s a fantastic player at a young age, won more than me in one season, but as a defender he is not good enough.

“He needs to work on his game, get a one-on-one coach and he needs to sort it out.”

O’Hara went on to claim that Virgil van Dijk being “at the top of his powers” has allowed his team-mates to “get away with it”.

Now that the Dutchman has – in the pundit’s eyes – “fell away”, teams “know they can get at Trent and they will mark him and aim for him every single time they get on the ball”.

Reds in reality check

The concerns were obvious for Liverpool coming into Sunday’s clash with Arsenal.

Brighton had done the exact same thing to the Reds the week before, getting in behind in the same spaces.

It led Klopp after the defeat to the Gunners to accept a reality check: it is not about winning games consistently like before, it is just about winning football matches.

That is how far the Reds have slipped this season, as they look to avoid a fourth successive game without a win against Manchester City next weekend.

As it stands, though, anything but a defeat looks unlikely for Klopp’s men at Anfield.