Mikel Arteta’s touchline bust-up with Jurgen Klopp came at the WORST time for Arsenal… it inspired a quiet Anfield into full voice and the Gunners paid the price in a chastening defeat
- Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta clashed with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on the touchline
- The incident galvanised Liverpool, who started to play inspired football after
- Klopp’s Reds went on to triumph 4-0 in a resounding win at Anfield on Saturday
It can pay to pick the right time and place for a scrap. Evidently a lull in play at Anfield was neither the most opportune moment nor the best spot for Mikel Arteta to challenge Jurgen Klopp to a touchline dance.
They really went for each other, or as much as managers ever do, with bulging eyes and fruity words before support staff from either side stopped the whole thing from getting too silly.
They were each booked for the tussle, which came 31 minutes in and a few seconds after Sadio Mane caught Takehiro Tomiyasu during a challenge for a high ball. A fair punishment, probably, but perhaps the deeper consequences for Arsenal were found in what followed.
Mikel Arteta’s touchline bust-up with Jurgen Klopp came at the worst possible time for Arsenal
Until then, they had succeeded in one of the prime aims for any side on a trip to this stadium – silencing the crowd. It tends to be a decent chunk of the battle, and will be again now folk are allowed back in.
By extension, and contrast, jolting some electricity into the old place can make the steps to a positive outcome a little steeper for those who visit.
And so to the issue, which is to say an even game in a quietening atmosphere turned into something far more difficult amid the noise inspired by that flashpoint. With it the balance of the game shifted instantly and irreversibly.
Within two minutes Mo Salah had forced Aaron Ramsdale into a scrambling save and within 10 Mane had headed them in front, a 5ft 7ins forward carried over centre-halves on waves of sound.
The incident only served to inspire the previously quiet Anfield crowd to a cacophony of noise
It might be something of a leap to assign cause to the overall effect of a 4-0 away defeat at an excellent team, but there is no doubting a hard job was made far tougher by the change in tone inside the ground.
A hard lesson was maybe learned in that uncharacteristic loss of control from Arteta. But in the fullness of the season, you do wonder if it is the sort of trait that would be reflected with some success on the pitch. Be that change you want to see, or something like that.
It remains one of those truisms of football that successful teams tend to have common ground in their ability to fuse the grubby with the good.
Arteta himself has touched on it, and indeed was no angel back in the day – his 284 Premier League appearances included 43 yellow cards and four reds. He was no monster but he knew the limitations of good manners in a midfield.
Liverpool, roared on by their fans, went on to win 4-0 in a drubbing at Anfield on Saturday
Possibly that is what Arsenal still need. They have excelled since the mauling to Manchester City, as the unbeaten streak of eight league games prior to this one would demonstrate.
But there remains a physical deference in their play, which can make for some exceptionally pretty patterns in more games than not.
Other times, like an away game at Liverpool, you do question the logic of a sleek front four when there is so little muscle to back them up.
Arsenal’s fighters would have been better placed in midfield than the technical area.