Mikel Arteta admitted that Liverpool are simply just a class above, after witnessing his Arsenal side suffer a 3-1 loss on Monday evening to end their perfect start to the season.
The away side went into the match buoyed having beaten their opponents in their last two meetings, yet were quickly under the cosh after a spell of intense pressure from the hosts. After a dogged defensive display Arsenal finally pounced, beating the press to unleash Maitland-Niles on the left flank, the wing-back’s cross finding its way to Alexandre Lacazette – courtesy of a rare Andy Roberston error – and the Frenchman scuffed his effort past Alisson.
That lead lasted just three minutes, however, Sadio Mane tapping in after Bernd Leno had pushed a Mo Salah effort straight to his feet. Things got even worse for the Gunners soon after, as Robertson condoned for his error with a cool finish at the back-post having been untracked by the away defence.
The second half did see an improved display from Mikel Arteta’s men and striker Lacazette should have netted an equaliser, the Frenchman one-on-one with Reds stopper Alisson yet inexplicably struck his effort straight at his opponent. The former Lyon striker was made to pay for his miss late on, as summer signing Diogo Jota wrapped up the three points with a low finish into the bottom left-hand corner.
Despite the defeat, manager Arteta was upbeat about his side’s performance and stated that Jurgen Klopp’s side were just on a different level that the Gunners are yet to reach.
“We were in the game for a big part of the game. The reality is they are superior to us in many aspects. You could see that is some phases,” Arteta told Sky Sports.
“I’m really happy in the way the team competed and kept believing. This is the standard we have to reach. We are on a different journey. They’ve been together five years, we’ve had a few months.”
While the former Manchester City boss was full of praise for his side, he did acknowledge that they do have ‘a long way to go’ to close the gap on their opponents, with costly defensive errors and guilt-edged missed chances playing a major part in their loss.
“They scored too early [after Arsenal’s goal], big mistake from us. I had a feeling we were going to have chances in the second half.
“We had probably the best chance of the game. You have to put them in the net when you have chances against them.
“We have a long way to go in many things.”
Arsenal will be out for revenge when they face the Reds once again on Thursday in the Carabao Cup, before they host Sheffield United on Sunday.