Arsenal struck by lightning

USAIN BOLT has left the building but his afterburners are still scorching across our screens. Picking up the baton and sharpening it are Liverpool's Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

On Sunday they sliced through Arsenal like a pair of parangs through a pot of melting ghee – and plunged into Arsene Wenger's heart. We wondered how long it would be before disillusioned Gooners clambered onto their manager's back - they already have and it's only August.

Social media has exploded in a red mist as furious fans turn on their manager after what many called the worst Arsenal performance they'd ever seen. Not a single shot on target and, but for Petr Cech, it would have been worse.

Seldom can a Sunday have felt more wasted as the despondent north London hordes looked on aghast – their team simply did not show up. As comments man Jim Beglin observed, "it looked like a Champions League team against a Europa League team." It was League One at times.

And the mere mention of that tournament is not only a reminder of Arsenal's status downgrade, but sends further chills down Gooner spines: all they have to look forward to is more of the same broken only by wintry nights in Belgrade and Belarus.

The feeling that Sod, himself, is doing his worst can be traced back to that unexpected FA Cup triumph in May: catching out a complacent Chelsea has ensured Wenger stayed – to continue in his same old way.

Making an early signing but no more, missing out on others because they won't pay the price and promising not to sell the stars. But the team are not "same ol" any more – they are getting worse.

Even Alexis Sanchez was ineffectual, not to mention rueful when he came off, but then it was his first game back. Mesut Ozil had another game when you had to ask if he was actually on the field and as for Granit Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey, Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal it would have been better if they hadn't been.

Wenger has admitted that in the second half of last season the fuss over his contract renewal had an adverse effect on performance and that fan anger got to the players. Well, it is starting early this season.

The only silver lining is that there is still time to buy – but only if the club changes the habit of a lifetime and pay what they consider is over the odds. Since they bought Alexandre Lacazette we've had the "Neymar Effect" of hyper-inflation and clubs will know that Arsenal are not only loaded but desperate.

One thing about Wenger and his board is that they don't do panic. They have weathered many storms together in the last 21 years, but what could be about to hit them is a Hurricane Harvey with bells on.

This moment is surely the exception to the rule that when you don't know what to do, you do nothing. But doing nothing now would only stoke the fires of angry fans even more – and have a detrimental effect on the players. And after this epic no-show, Arsenal can't afford that.

We had thought there might be goals from both sides – as both had strength in attack and a well-documented dodginess in defence. We got it badly wrong. In his two decades in charge, Wenger cannot have had many more dispiriting days than this.

His team selection was curious to say the least. No Lacazette, no Olivier Giroud up front and no Sead Kolasinac nor Laurent Koscielny to add a bit of steel to the defence. It was their lack of pace, apparently. But then no one could keep up with Mane and Salah.

We thought the Gunners' attack might trouble dodgy Dejan Lovren & Co. They didn't. And there was the added incentive of Loris Karius in goal, curiously preferred to the "rested" Simon Mignolet. They didn't get near him.

Seasoned commentators are saying they've never seen Arsenal so bereft. Rather more rabid fans are calling for Wenger's head now. It does seem to be down to the manager who is the Great Panjandrum of the Emirates responsible for coaching, tactics, signings and the colour of the jock-straps.

Such an all-powerful omnipresence cannot blame anyone else when things go wrong but at least he has the international break in which to come up with something. What Arsenal need are a couple of game-changers that can change the mood as well.

If Stan Kroenke's piggy bank has to be broken, then so be it. What is all that money for if it is not going to be used at a time of crisis? For this, with still a few days left of August, is a crisis.

All Wenger could do was bite his nails. What he should do is bite the bullet or those fingers could be down to the knuckle by the time of their next home game.

TOOTHLESS TOFFEES
WHILE Liverpool can bask in the glow of a glorious victory over a so-called rival, content in the knowledge that they are title contenders with or without Philippe Coutinho, Everton's new dawn has yet to break.
In sharp contrast to the Reds for whom Mo Salah looks the best Egyptian export since Tutankhamun, Everton's new boys have not delivered. Indeed, they played a bit like Arsenal – offering nothing and lacking their traditional grit.
Despite their many new faces, the Toffees look worse than last year. The way they spent money, it did seem they were spending for the sake of it. And, Jordan Pickford apart, they don't seem to have bought value. Could it be a case of come back David Moyes, all is forgiven?

GOOD: Liverpool
Eviscerated Arsenal with lightning pace and dominant midfield so defence wasn't tested. Their attack was rampant and on this form, with or without Coutinho, they look title contenders. With Firminho dropping deeper and Can now fulfilling his great potential, they are a formidable unit now. And will test the very best.

BAD: Arsenal
Fans and commentators are saying it's the worst Arsenal side in 20 years. There was no zip, no fight, nor organisation, nothing. Unless something happens, they'll struggle to make the top six, never mind top four.

UGLY: Brito's tackle
Alan Shearer said it should be on Crimewatch. The victim Anthony Knockaert claimed: "That was definitely the worst challenge by far that I've ever been on the receiving end of." Miguel Brito's studs-up lunge on the Brighton man in the 0-0 draw with Watford was the Uruguayan's third sending off in nine months. And with no backing from his manager Marco Silva, it may be his last in a Watford shirt.

STUPID: Pep Guardiola
There's no doubt that Guardiola's stock has plummeted since he came to Manchester City. His obsession with footballing goalkeepers, use of square pegs in round holes and general inability to get English football has been why. He also does not help himself with his kindergarten antics on the touchline as we saw at Bournemouth. Stop acting like a spoilt brat, Pep.