Paul Merson says Arsenal’s dismal defeat to Liverpool showed importance of Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe sponspored by god55

Paul Merson says Arsenal’s dismal defeat to Liverpool showed importance of Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe

Paul Merson believes Arsenal’s demoralising Premier League defeat to Liverpool showed the importance of Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe to the Gunners.

The trio were all absent on Saturday as Mikel Arteta’s side slipped to a 3-0 loss at home to reigning champions Liverpool.

Saka and Smith Rowe missed the clash after picking up minor injuries during the international break, while Xhaka was unwell towards the end of last week.

Merson says Arsenal’s defeat was ‘as bas as it gets’ and showed the importance of Xhaka, Saka and Smith Rowe to Arteta’s team.

‘What I watched against Liverpool the other day was as bad as I’ve ever seen,’ Merson told Sky Sports. ‘I can’t remember Arsenal ever being like that.

‘People will say about the times under Unai Emery and at the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, but I never saw anything like that.

‘All I saw was rolling the ball back to the goalkeeper and he just lumped it down the field.

‘I know we go on about Arsenal and sometimes they play out too much from the back and they get robbed, and we’ve seen it against Liverpool umpteen times over the years.

‘Liverpool nick the ball and they go and score, but the other day, I’ve never seen anything like it from an Arsenal.’

Merson added: ‘The defeat just goes to show you how good Granit Xhaka is. He became a better player not playing against Liverpool.

‘People say to me they don’t know what Xhaka does. He doesn’t score goals, he doesn’t make goals and gets booked and all that, but give him his due, what was glaring to see in Arsenal’s defeat is that he wants the ball.

‘He looks for the ball. In times of trouble he will always try and get on the ball and that’s what they didn’t have.

‘No-one was showing for the ball and in the end, the goalkeeper was just booting the ball. Honestly, it was mind blowing.’

On the importance of Arsenal starlets Saka and Smith Rowe, Merson said: ‘Bukayo and Emile also showed what a big miss they are, and you know why? Because they work hard.

‘They are great players, but they also put the hard yards in. You show me a world class player that doesn’t work hard and that is it.

‘That is where Arsenal are at. Saka and Smith Rowe are probably not far of being their two lowest paid players at the club and they are up there with their best players. That sums Arsenal up at the moment.’

Arsenal’s defeat dealt a further blow to the club’s top-four aspirations, with the Gunners currently tenth in the Premier League, ten points behind fourth-placed West Ham.

The best route back into the Champions League now appears to be by winning the Europa League and Arsenal face Slavia Prague in this week’s quarter-finals.

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