Adam Lallana believes Liverpool’s thrilling win over Arsenal has laid down a benchmark for their season, but admits there is still plenty of room for improvement.
The Reds were 4-3 victors at the Emirates Stadium to get their Premier League campaign off to a winning start, with their four goals coming in a devastating 18-minute spell.
Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead just 69 seconds after seeing a penalty saved by Simon Mignolet, with Liverpool drawing level on the stroke of half-time courtesy of a sublime Philippe Coutinho free-kick.
The visitors ran rampant after the interval as Lallana put them in front, Coutinho added a third and new-boy Sadio Mane thrashed home a fourth.
Arsenal responded and hit back through substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and defender Calum Chambers but Liverpool held on to take three points - with Lallana aware that it was not a perfect afternoon in north London for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
“At 4-1 we maybe got a bit complacent, a bit over the top,” the England international said.
“We were soon back down to earth when it was 4-3. I was on the bench in the last 10 minutes and it was unbearable to watch at times. But we have a benchmark now and we can assess it and look at things we need to improve on.
“The manager will do that, for sure. He won’t be entirely happy with the performance - there’ll definitely be things we need to work on.”
Lallana praised Coutinho’s stunning equaliser and does not think anyone else will be on free-kick duty for Liverpool any time soon.
“A great bit of magic from Phil gave us that belief and confidence going into half-time,” he said.
“Phil again came up trumps with the free-kick. We were working on them a couple of days ago - there’s just no chance anyone is getting anywhere near a free-kick.
“But we all want him to have them because he can produce that, and I think that’s the best I’ve ever seen him score.
“It was further out than usual and it was right in the top corner, the keeper had no chance.”
The man beaten by the free-kick, Petr Cech, seemed to endure an opening day to forget as images posted on Twitter after the match appeared to show he had pranged his car while trying to leave the Emirates.
And the former Chelsea goalkeeper, who holds the record for the most clean sheets in Premier League history, said he understood why some Arsenal fans were already turning on the team as they jeered at the full-time whistle.
He said: “As a player we understand the supporters came with the ambition to win the first game of the season.
“We played well for 60 minutes, but were not good enough for 30 minutes. You have 37 more games and you need to make sure that is the last defeat.
“I thought for the first 45 minutes we were excellent. We played well, we got a goal, we had opportunities and we missed a penalty, but the reaction was great because we scored two minutes later. It was a perfect start for us.
“The momentum shifted when they got an equaliser in the last minute of the first half. I thought if we concentrated and continued to play well we were going to win the game but, within a 15-minute spell, they scored three and decided the game.
“We started much slower in the second half. Once they got to 2-1 up, the game changed because they could wait to counter-attack and this is where they damaged us.”
Meanwhile former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski has announced his retirement from international football with immediate effect.
The 31-year-old German has decided to call it a day after making 129 appearances during a career which spanned 12 years for his country.
During his international career, Podolski scored 48 goals and helped Germany win the 2014 World Cup and finish runners-up at Euro 2008. Only two other players - Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose - have made more appearances for Germany, while only Klose and Gerd Muller are ahead of Podolski in the national team’s goalscoring charts.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved