Relentless Liverpool continue their perfect start
It was more of the same from Jurgen Klopp’s men as they eased past Arsenal to maintain their faultless title defence with a debut goal for Diogo Jota.
Arsenal have had the better of Liverpool under Mikel Arteta, winning both games between the two sides since the Spaniard took over last year. But after being on the losing side in the league and Community Shield, Liverpool looked eager to reassert their dominance on Monday evening.
It started well for the hosts as they controlled the possession and began probing intelligently in the wide areas. Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to have recaptured his form from previous seasons and caused issues for the Gunners with some dangerous crosses from the off.
Arsenal open the scoring against the run of play
Arsenal did not really show any ambition going forward until midway through the first half when a fluid break from the visitors found Ainsley Maitland-Niles advanced down the left flank. His square ball appeared to have been intercepted by Andy Robertson but a loose touch from the Liverpool full-back left Alexandre Lacazette in space in the six yard box. The Frenchman’s scuffed finish evaded Alisson Becker and Arteta’s side were ahead.
The opener could hardly have been more against the run of play and Liverpool were straight back on the offensive to find an equaliser. It took just three minutes for the champions to draw level and, predictably, it was the product of Liverpool’s two in-form wide men. Salah picked up the ball in the inside right channel and drove at Kieran Tierney, scooting past him with ease. His strike was parried by Bernd Leno but Sadio Mané was on hand to slot the rebound home.
Aside from the opening goal it was a near-faultless opening from Liverpool and they got their noses ahead with ten first half minutes remaining. This time it was a combination of Liverpool’s full-backs that forced the break though. Alexander-Arnold spotted his counterpart in space on the far side of the Arsenal box and flighted a whipped cross into the path of Andy Robertson. The left-back did well to bring it under control after a slight deflection and he gleefully prodded it home to make amends for his earlier mistake. The visitors managed just five passes in the final third in the first 45 minutes and the home side took a deserved lead into the break.
Liverpool continued to dominate
Liverpool continued to dominate in the second half and kept the visitors pinned back but Arsenal began to pose a few questions of their own. The Gunners found Lacazette free in front of goal twice in the second half but he could not double his tally for the evening, denied by Alisson on both occasions. The Brazilian stopper was barely called upon in the first half but he made some key interventions in the second.
For all their quality Liverpool were wasteful in the final third and squandered a few chances to finish the game. A dazzling run from Sadio Mané found him through on goal but his delicate finish dropped just the wrong side of the post.
New signing Diogo Jota came on for the brilliant Mané to make his league debut for the club and was immediately in the heart of the action. He found the side-netting after latching onto an incisive pass from Salah and had another opportunity pinched off him by the goal-hungry Egyptian. But the Portuguese forward persisted and got his first Anfield goal with five minutes remaining, lashing a volley into the bottom corner to secure the three points.
That win maintains Liverpool’s perfect start to the new season and drew them level on points with Leicester City and neighbours Everton at the top of the Premier League. Arsenal travel to Anfield again on Thursday for the EFL Cup fourth round tie but it will take a dramatic improvement from the Gunners if they are to progress.
Liverpool pile on the pressure
Pressing has long been the calling card of a successful Jurgen Klopp team and that side of Liverpool’s game was as prominent as ever on Monday evening. Arsenal are in the process of building a cohesive style of play under Arteta but they wilted under the intensity of Liverpool’s pressing at Anfield. Liverpool’s willingness to push forward may have cost them a goal but it was a vital component in their attacking play as they camped out in their opponent’s half. As always the front three led the charge but the speed and intelligence of Mane was causing particular problems. The Senegalese forward was absolutely relentless throughout and his speed and positional awareness was often just too much for Arsenal to deal with.
Arsenal struggle to maintain early season form
Much has been made about the strides made under Arteta’s stewardship but Monday’s 3-1 defeat showed how much of the journey is yet to go for Arsenal. Playing out from the back is clearly going to be a cornerstone of this new-look Gunners side but they were unable to build any meaningful possession at Anfield. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been Arsenal’s biggest goal threat from his position on the left but he was again peripheral against Liverpool. Their wing-backs were rarely able to cross the halfway line and they sunk deeper and deeper towards their own goal. Arteta’s dedication to a single style of play has drawn plaudits up to now, but some may wonder if a touch of pragmatism may have served them well against a clearly superior side.
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