Dominant Liverpool ease to win over Arsenal

Dominant Liverpool ease to win over Arsenal

Liverpool opened up a three-point gap at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Arsenal which highlighted why the chasing pack are still so far behind them and Manchester City.

By their own admission Jurgen Klopp’s side had not been close to finding their best form in four matches this season but faced with the top flight’s only other team with a 100 per cent record, they stepped up a couple of gears.

As if to make a statement they dismantled the Gunners, who arrived at Anfield with a containment-first approach, with a power game allied to clinical efficiency.

Mohamed Salah, with a penalty and a superbly-taken individual effort, made it three for the campaign after Joel Matip’s first league goal in 11 months broke the deadlock just before half-time, with substitute Lucas Torreira scoring a consolation five minutes from the end.

The game started at a frenetic pace, with the hosts setting a high tempo which penned Arsenal back in the final third. Within 80 seconds Andy Robertson had fizzed a ball across the six-yard area which Roberto Firmino only narrowly missed.

Unai Emery’s tactics were to defend deep with eight men behind the ball in an attempt to draw their opponents in before trying to release the explosive pace of £72million summer signing Nicolas Pepe, given a full debut at the expense of Alexandre Lacazette.

However, a flaw in the plan was that the Gunners never looked comfortable in possession in and around their own penalty area and regularly fell foul of Liverpool’s high press.

Sadio Mane, second right, shoots from the edge of the box (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Sadio Mane, second right, shoots from the edge of the box (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The worst example was when Dani Ceballos, pinned in near his own corner flag, cleared the ball straight to Sadio Mane 15 yards out only for the Senegal international to shoot straight at Bernd Leno.

But the more Liverpool pressed the more Arsenal were presented with opportunities, with Pepe having three chances and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang one.

Reds goalkeeper Adrian, fresh from his miskicking error which cost them a goal at Southampton last week, came out of his area to clear but only found Aubameyang who lobbed the ball back past the far post.

Pepe’s best chance came when Jordan Henderson’s mistake on the halfway line allowed the Ivory Coast international to run past Robertson but in a one-one-one with Adrian he shot straight at the goalkeeper.

Nicolas Pepe, left, shoots straight at goalkeeper Bernd Leno, not pictured (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Nicolas Pepe, left, shoots straight at goalkeeper Bernd Leno, not pictured (Anthony Devlin/PA)

It meant the game was far more open than the statistics of Liverpool’s supposed dominance – they had 14 shots in the first half – suggested.

But the incessant pressure on Arsenal’s defence began to tell and after Salah held off Granit Xhaka to cleverly turn and fire wide, the breakthough came.

From a corner Trent Alexander-Arnold finally found his range and Matip benefited from the space created by Virgil Van Dijk’s tangle with Matteo Guendouzi to power home a 41st-minute header.

Mane should have done better with his header in injury time but if the interval was a period for Arsenal to clear their heads, no-one told David Luiz who, in a moment of madness four minutes after the break, tugged on Salah’s shirt.

Mohamed Salah places the ball for his penalty as David Luiz, centre, protests to referee Anthony Taylor (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Mohamed Salah places the ball for his penalty as David Luiz, centre, protests to referee Anthony Taylor (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The Egypt international confidently dispatched the penalty and added a second by brilliantly converting a three-pass move which eliminated most of the opposition.

Started by Adrian to Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho then flicked forward an inviting ball allowing Salah to skip past Luiz with embarrassing ease 40 yards out and run into the penalty area before cushioning a shot inside the far post with his left foot.

From that point it was an exercise in damage-limitation for the visitors, with Emery’s first change being to send on combative midfielder Torreira for the anonymous playmaker Ceballos.

Lacazette, scorer of 19 goals last season and one in one match this, was not introduced until the 81st minute – and even then it was Torreira who eventually found the net, drilling home a loose ball 15 yards out.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Football rumours from the mediaFootball rumours from the media

Arsenal players were scared as Watford launched comeback – Granit XhakaArsenal players were scared as Watford launched comeback – Granit Xhaka

Watford hit back from two behind to draw with Arsenal on Flores’ returnWatford hit back from two behind to draw with Arsenal on Flores’ return

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

More in this Section

Wild card Suzann Pettersen holes winning putt as Europe regain Solheim CupWild card Suzann Pettersen holes winning putt as Europe regain Solheim Cup

Watford hit back from two behind to draw with Arsenal on Flores’ returnWatford hit back from two behind to draw with Arsenal on Flores’ return

5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend5 things we learned from the Premier League this weekend

Sergio Garcia holds on to claim KLM OpenSergio Garcia holds on to claim KLM Open


Lifestyle

I’m giggling but also it is tinged with tension. I peep out from behind the large sycamore. They are three trees away.Opening Lines: I’m just a bearded wheezing giggly man on the ground

I did my Leaving Cert in June and have just started college this week, so my school experience is extremely fresh in my memory. I went to Davis College in Mallow and it was a fantastic experience. I was the loud obnoxious child at the back of the classroom from day one. I had to (and still do, by the way) have an opinion on everything.Stand up and be counted : The Young Offender's Demi Isaac Oviawe on college and school life

When I was in secondary school I started working part-time as a waitress and I suppose I caught the hospitality bug back then.You've been served: General manager at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa Caitriona O’Keeffe

That an American study has found straight women prefer dad bods (“an untoned and slightly plump male physique, especially one that is considered attractive”) to six packs and hard shiny abs comes as no great surprise.Outside the Box: Tone down guys, us girls don’t mind moobs

More From The Irish Examiner