Youthful Arsenal gunning for title shot

Published October 11, 2022
LONDON: Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (R) scores against Liverpool during their Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium.—AFP
LONDON: Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (R) scores against Liverpool during their Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium.—AFP

LONDON: A young Arsenal side brimming with attacking talent are starting to look like the real deal after beating Liverpool 3-2 at the Emirates on Sunday and, although the Reds were not at their strongest, it is a sign of things to come.

Mikel Arteta’s side opened the scoring inside the first minute through Gabriel Martinelli and though Liverpool twice pegged them back, the Gunners held on for a win that put them back on top of the table.

“It doesn’t matter your age, it’s your heart and how much you want to achieve in football and life. That is the most important thing. We need to believe and go game by game trying to win all of them,” the 21-year-old Martinelli told Sky Sports.

The win puts them back on top of the table, one point ahead of reigning champions Manchester City, and Arsenal show no signs of slipping up just yet, despite their youth.

Victories for Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester United compounded a miserable weekend for Liverpool, who now have a mountain to climb just to make it back into the top four.

And Virgil van Dijk admitted the Reds are suffering a crisis of confidence after defeat at the Emirates left them 14 points behind the leaders.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have won just two of their first eight league games in their worst start for 10 years.

Just months on from narrowly missing out on an unprecedented quadruple, Liverpool are languishing in mid-table having already lost as many games as they did in the entirety of last season.

A creaky defence has been a major factor in their woeful run, with Trent Alexander-Arnold again exposed and the usually imperious Van Dijk below his best against Arsenal.

Liverpool have conceded six goals in their last two league games and also suffered a shambolic 4-1 defeat at Napoli in the Champions League in September.

“Confidence is definitely a thing, that plays a part, we are human beings,” Van Dijk said. “Sometimes you need confidence in certain moments, and if your confidence is not high, that cannot help you. If you are not winning regularly like we need to, then confidence is creeping away, but we know it can turn around as well.”

RONALDO CAN STILL IMPACT GAMES

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to United amid much fanfare ahead of last term but the campaign ended in bitter disappointment for the Portuguese striker when United finished with their lowest ever Premier League season points total.

This season, Ronaldo cannot even get in the United team, restricted to a bit-part role. But that does not mean he cannot still affect games, as he demonstrated when he fired the winner, after coming off the bench, with his 700th career club goal, to earn his side a 2-1 win at Everton on Sunday.

It was his first league goal of the campaign, and with an injury to Anthony Martial potentially giving Ronaldo more opportunities in the coming weeks, the veteran forward will be looking to increase those career numbers yet further.

“Every player needs the goals,” United coach Erik ten Hag said. “I have worked with goalscorers, they need goals every season to have that feeling. Once they have some goals, they have the flow. Games go easier. That will happen with him as well.”

TOTTENHAM WIN A TRIBUTE TO VENTRONE

On Saturday, Harry Kane scored the only goal as third-placed Tottenham were made to grind out a 1-0 win at Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of a difficult week for Antonio Conte and his players.

On Thursday, Conte’s long time fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone died at the age of 61.

Kane pointed to his black arm band and to the sky after scoring at the Amex, while Conte was visibly emotional during a minute’s silence before kick-off.

“In only 10 months, I think Gian Piero went through the heart of everybody,” said Conte ” They appreciated because we are talking about a really big worker and for me, in his job, he is a scientist.”

Kane was also close to tears in his post-match interview.

“We are really devastated by the pain of what happened,” said the England captain. “No one expected this situation.”

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2022

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