Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger conceded his side were simply not physically ready for a match of such stature after Liverpool consigned the Gunners to defeat in an opening-day thriller.
Liverpool instigated a four-goal backlash inside 20 minutes through a Philippe Coutinho double and strikes from Adam Lallana and debutant Sadio Mane before substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers added to Theo Walcott’s opener.
For the sixth time in seven seasons Arsenal failed to win their first game of a new campaign, heaping further pressure on Wenger to reinforce his squad before the close of the transfer window on 31 August.
“We are not ready. Physically, we are not ready,” said Wenger.
“You are in a catch-22 situation with the Euros. Players can get injured, like [Aaron] Ramsey [hamstring] today, or you can give them needed rest and be without many of them.
“But we are not stupid. We prepared well the players we had. Sometimes you have to accept you cannot control absolutely everything even if you try to be as intelligent as possible.”
Walcott gave Arsenal the lead on 31 minutes, moments after his penalty had been saved, as he collected a pass from Alex Iwobi and fired low across goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
But the Merseysiders levelled on the stroke of half time when Coutinho curled a stunning 30-yard free-kick into the top corner, while four minutes into the second period Lallana squeezed an effort beyond Petr Cech.
The visitors intensified their stranglehold on the proceedings with the hour mark approaching as a fizzed Nathaniel Clyne cross was turned home by Coutinho.
The Liverpool avalanche was in full flow and Mane outpaced Chambers before lashing high past Cech, only for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s skimmed effort seconds later to deceive Mignolet.
Arsenal were given further, if forlorn, hope with quarter of an hour remaining when a glanced Chambers header from a whipped Santi Cazorla free-kick beat Mignolet.