Where do Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp go from here?

Bukayo Saka’s brace in a 3-2 Arsenal win saw the Gunners reclaim top spot in a thrilling Premier League tussle at the Emirates which gave Jurgen Klopp’s redmen a sharp dose of reality on their domestic prospects this term.

Where do Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp go from here?

Jurgen Klopp’s attempts to improve a defensive unit who, before going into yesterday’s match had conceded the first goal in six of their previous 10 games, was undone after only 90 seconds.

Gabriel Martinelli, a player the German manager has made a habit of showering with praise ahead of match-ups with the Gunners, latched onto an incisive pass from Martin Odegaard and coolly slotted home past the helpless Alisson Becker.

Aside from the early setback, and an unanswered penalty claim, Klopp would have been pleased with the majority of what he saw from his side thereafter.

Liverpool’s equaliser came just after the half hour mark as Gabriel Magalhaes misjudged a hopeful ball into the channel from Trent Alexander-Arnold and, after some trademark industry from Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez was able to poke a ball across the box into the net.

It was only the second goal for the Uruguayan this term, a far cry from the numbers put up by his fellow summer arrival Erling Haaland - undoubtedly an unfair comparison, but such was the preseason expectation of £85 million club-record arrival from Benfica.

His inclusion in the starting XI came as a surprise as Klopp opted to field the same team, and system - a fluid 4-4-2 - that prevailed in a midweek Champions League win over Rangers.

“[Nunez] was good,” Klopp said. “Sharp, involved in nearly everything and he scored a great goal.”

But in contrast to his comments regarding the forward, the Liverpool boss was far more expansive in his appraisal of his team’s current predicament.

The Reds now find themselves in tenth place in the Premier League, with only a pair of wins from their eight league outings, still, Klopp remained adamant the change in formation was not to blame for Sunday’s loss.

“I don’t think the goals we conceded had anything to do with the system,” he said. “It’s normal for us to need to get used to it but I don’t know if we can play it again because today we lost one important part of it.

“But do I have deeper concerns? Yes, of course I’m not happy, how can I be? We are in a tough moment and we want to get through this together and that’s what we are working on.”

On a demoralising trip down south for the Anfield club unflattering comparisons of Nunez are unwarranted, that of his fellow young star Alexander-Arnold on the other hand, are not.

After the visitors had wrestled back control from their hosts and looked most likely to close out the half in the lead, the young defender played a decisive role in the woeful concession of Arsenal’s go ahead goal.

Alexander-Arnold needlessly rushed out of position and effectively made up the mind of Martinelli who cut inside from the left flank and played a low cross in the box which found Bukayo Saka at the far post.

Over the past few years the England international has faced a ton of criticism for his defensive capabilities and his confidence in recent weeks would not have been aided by comments from his national manager Gareth Southgate, who called into question his all-round game when compared to his peers.

But despite his generational offensive talents, after playing a major part in the two Arsenal strikes that bookended the first-half at the Emirates a switch at the interval for Joe Gomez came as no surprise.

Though his club manager quickly poured cold water on any suspicion he had hooked the young defender for his torrid performance and instead insisted the change was enforced with the fullback still feeling the effects of a nasty late tackle early in proceedings.

“After the worst possible start we had the worst possible end to the first-half,” said Klopp. “On top of the [Luis Diaz] injury we had Trent as well with a twisted ankle.

“In seven years Trent has never gone off if he could have played on but there was too much pain and slight swelling immediately so he will have a scan.”

Enforced or no, time on the sidelines away from the media glare and opposition scouting may do the starlet some good in the long run.

For all the optimism that stemmed from Liverpool’s performance in the first 45 minutes, the dominance of Mikel Arteta’s table toppers after the break will leave a bitter taste in the mouth of last season’s Premier League runners-up.

Despite grabbing an equaliser shortly before the hour through the redhot Roberto Firmino, the visitors were powerless to withstand the Gunners onslaught thereafter and eventually yielded in the 76th minute when Thiago was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus.

By any measure the award was soft and Liverpool feelings of injustice were exacerbated by referee Michael Oliver’s decision to overlook their own penalty claim for a handball in the first-half.

But there was no pity to be found from Saka who confidently struck his penalty past Alisson to bag his brace and all three points.

The result sees the Reds fall 14 points behind the Gunners, who sit atop the league standings, with headaches, doubt, and serious questions all over the pitch.

For instance, with the sides deadlocked at two-apiece the Liverpool boss raised eyebrows by replacing star man Mohamed Salah, who has only returned two goals from seven league starts, with holding midfielder Fabinho in a move which underlined the mounting list of issues at the Anfield club.

“We still wanted to win even when we took a striker off,” Klopp said sarcastically when questioned on the decision. Before adding: “We had to defend at a high level and we decided to put [Jordan] Henderson on that side but Mo [Salah] was unbelievable, he put in a real shift.

“Sometimes it’s very intense so that’s why we thought we could do it with Henderson.”

Anything other than a manager coming to the defence of their player would make for a shocking headline, that truism goes double for the effusive German who is lauded for his fatherly approach to player management.

But Klopp’s broad smile and brave face can not hide the mess his team finds itself in at the moment.

At present, they are a shadow of their former selves, a team frantically searching for the cloak of invincibility they have donned so confidently for the majority of the last half decade.

“We’re not in the title race,” Klopp admitted. “Imagine if I would sit here and say, ‘wait, we’re nearly there.’

“We have problems at the moment but we caused the in-form team, the leaders of the table, massive problems today even in a really bad situation for us.

“In a situation like ours where we now play Rangers and then Man City, that's not the perfect opponent for finding our confidence but we will go out there and fight.

“That’s what we have to do and that’s what we will do.”