Liverpool continued where the left off against Hoffenheim and absolutely destroyed Arsenal 4-0 at Anfield. To say Arsenal were poor was an understatement, Wenger and his players were humiliated as they were brutally exposed by Liverpool’s pace, movement and sheer desire to win.
The game was almost a perfect performance, however Liverpool could easily have achieved more. The game started in usual fashion, high evergy, high octane.
Liverpool had power, direction, ambition and intent. Everything that Arsenal lacked.
Karius; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
The inclusion of Karius with Mignolet being dropped entirely from the match-day squad was a surprise. After his good display against Hoffenheim is was good to see Moreno selected at left-back. Gomez made up the back five. The front six pretty much picked itself after the powerful, slick display in mid-week.
Interesting game stats
- Arsenal’s heaviest Premier League defeat since a 4-0 loss at Southampton on Boxing Day 2015.
- Four of Arsenal’s eight Premier League defeats by a margin of 4+ goals have come against Liverpool at Anfield.
- Arsenal did not attempt a single shot on target in this match.
- Liverpool have kept four clean sheets in a row at Anfield in the Premier League for the first time since September 2013.
- Mohamed Salah’s goal came only 12 seconds after Arsenal took a corner.
- Roberto Firmino has scored and assisted in a game on eight occasions since his Premier League debut in August 2015; no player has done so more often than him in this period (Costa & Lukaku also on eight).
- Mané is only the third player to score in the first three Premier League games of a season for Liverpool.
- Mané has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances for Liverpool against Arsenal.
- Salah has scored more goals for Liverpool this season (three) than he managed in a year at Chelsea.
Arsenal just couldn’t contain Liverpool’s attacking players. Playing with a back 3 they found it difficult to track Salah and Mané. When the centre-backs tracked them it allowed spaces for Firmino, Can or Wijnaldum to exploit. Even Henderson had a go at rounding the keeper! No disrespect to Henderson, but if your opposing defensive midfielder is in that position you know you’re in trouble!!
Roberto Firmino, who continued his great run headed in Joe Gomez’s cross to give Liverpool a 17th-minute lead.
Sadio Mané continued to threaten down the left wing. Turning the defence inside out at every opportunity. Managing to cut inside onto his right foot with such confidence scoring Liverpool’s second. A benefit of playing with two inverted forwards. Arsenal were overrun and showed no stomach for the fight, with many fans claiming the players should refund the fans tickets themselves! It’s a long way to travel home after such a dreadful game.
Liverpool continued to press, harrass and go for the third goal. Whether it was to compensate for any potential defensive errors which could invaribly happen, or just to increase that all important goal difference!
Salah made it number three, winning the ball in the Liverpool half following on from an Arsenal corner. Salah ran half the length of the field scoring after 57 minutes.
Mané came off to a standing ovation and Liverpool substitute Daniel Sturridge made it four goals when he headed home the fourth at the far post from Salah’s cross 13 minutes from the end.
Liverpool’s only anxious moments came via Karius’ uncertainty with the ball at his feet, the keeper twice almost caught in possession by Danny Welbeck but getting lucky as the ball bounced to safety.
Mané making the difference
There has been a lot of talk at the start of the season about Coutinho and how we could potentially struggle without him. Now after the recent performances and the fact that Coutinho wants to stay for another year, you have to now question how he’s actually going to fit into the system.
Mané has stepped it up a gear and he’s now provided that crucial missing link in a Liverpool attack that now carries enough pace and movement to trouble any defence in the game?
The 25-year-old Senegal striker had a fine first season at Anfield following his £34m move from Southampton in summer 2016, although his impact was reduced by injury and absence at the Africa Cup Of Nations, which hurt Liverpool’s season.
This season, in combination with Firmino and new boy Salah, he is moving into the highest class and performing in a manner that is drawing comparison with Suarez. Mané may not yet be in the same class of Suarez when he was at Liverpool – but he is certainly looking like the closest they have had since his departure to Barcelona.
Liverpool’s best performance
That was one of Liverpool’s very best performances in a number of years. The midfield controlled the game with the pace and power of Wijnaldum, Can and Henderson combined with the pace of the attacking threat of Salah, Firmino and Mane.
Liverpool won every battle today for the entire game. If you get the better of your opposing man, then usually the team will win. I cannot think of any area where Liverpool lost out.
“After midweek games you have to reach the mountain immediately. You really feel it is intense, we wanted to force ourselves to be strong physically and that is what we were. We were really well organised.
“If you give Arsenal space and time you lose before the game starts so I don’t think they could do a lot of what they wanted, Arsenal, and that is all credit to the boys because they worked really hard.”
“It is a completely normal decision. We want to have three strong goalkeepers. Simon is always spot on, always really good, a smart guy, he is a machine, he is the number one.
“But when you have three you have to give Simon a rest. He was not overly happy. He did not ask for the rest, but it is a mental rest more than a physical rest.”
In a further irony, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who looks certain to leave Arsenal before the transfer deadline, was warmly applauded by Liverpool’s fans when he was substituted, clearly in the hope he could be tempted to Anfield rather than Chelsea.
When you travel to a notorious place, Anfield, mentally you’ve got to be prepared for a tough game, you’ve got to be prepared to run back, to tackle and to earn the right. Arsenal did not earn the right – they were lacking all over the pitch.