Tactics? Team selection? Too much time off? Whatever the reason, Arsenal made another slow start in a big game and paid the price.
For Hector Bellerin, the 3-1 defeat at Anfield was all the more frustrating because it again underlined a lack of desire and motivation.
“We’re very frustrated with how the game went,” the Spaniard told Arsenal.com.
“After the tough weeks we’ve had, the team should have gone onto the pitch, motivated and ready from the start.
“In the first half it didn’t feel like we were ready and then we went 2-0 down. We wanted to do everything. We got one goal back and had a chance to make it 2-2, but sometimes it’s too late. We just need to start the games better.
“We need to realise that it’s just not the way to go. We need to push harder, to start the games with a better attitude and just go for it because we showed that when we go for it and want something, we can do it.
“It doesn’t matter about the other team, when we have the ball and push hard, we can score goals. It’s up to us to start the games with that desire, that motivation, and then we can get good results.”
It’s a worrying state of affairs when the players themselves admit their attitude on the pitch is not right. For Petr Cech, the fact that the Gunners lost duels across the pitch in the opening 45 minutes was particularly telling.
“We had a game plan and we had the players to execute the game plan,” the keeper told Arsenal Player.
“We didn’t have a game last week so we had time to prepare. Unfortunately, in the first 45 minutes, we didn’t match their intensity. When you lose the 50:50 duels, you make it harder for yourselves.
Cech added: “Believe it or not, it was the same game plan in the first and second half, we just executed it better after the break. We were more aggressive in the second half, played with more purpose and we started winning the 50:50 battles. That was the biggest difference between the two halves.
“It’s disappointing when you lose a game, but it’s more disappointing when you look at the two goals you conceded and you were not in danger. We had enough players behind the ball but we left the player free and they found the opening.
“If they outplay you in the situation and you can’t do anything about it, then fine, but we were very organised and we conceded which shouldn’t happen. We paid the price for that in the second half because we came back, scored the goal we needed, but unfortunately couldn’t equalise.”