With the Phillipe Coutinho situation ongoing and rumours of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain moving, Arsenal came to Anfield in the aftermath of a shock defeat to Stoke and the Wenger Out brigade waiting with baited breath to lash out at their coach. Liverpool were boisterous after Champions League qualification and the resulting draw. All the signs pointed to a comfortable home win and frantic ranting on ArsenalFan TV.
Liverpool started really well, applying pressure to Arsenal’s makeshift side, which saw left-back Nacho Montreal at centre-back, right back Hector Bellerin at left wing-back and Oxlade-Chamberlain as a right wing-back. It was hardly a surprise when Liverpool took the lead within twenty minutes. Joe Gomez cut back on to his left foot and crossed for Roberto Firmino to head the ball down into the turf and past Petr Cech. Sadio Mane added a second before halftime with a great counter-attacking goal, seeing him isolate his marker, cut in on to his right foot and slot into the bottom corner. 2-0 at half time and the Gunners looked shot.
The second half started less gloomily for Arsenal as they looked to try and get back into the game, pressing high. It backfired when a corner was cleared and Mohammed Salah beat Bellerin to the ball to go racing clear. After a 60 yard dash and some expert blocking by Sadio Mane, Mo finished well one on one (his first at The Kop end). It was another devastating counter attack, effectively killing the tie. To add further insult to injury, Daniel Sturridge opened his account for the season, typically poaching in the six yard box on the end of a cross from Salah.
A lot of pundits pointed fingers at Arsenal for Wenger’s choice of starting 11 and their lack of passion on the field, but it was an impressive display from Liverpool. They didn’t let their opponents breath. At times, the defence had deck-chairs out as they supervised the attack torturing Arsenal’s defence. When called upon, Matip and Lovren were solid, limiting Arsenal to a handful of chances. Only a few shaky moments from Karius had supporters muttering nervously in the stands. The midfield were industrious and smooth with their closing down and passing. Henderson looked like his old self with a few drives forward. Emre Can was strong throughout. A new contract has to be on the horizon for him. Wijnaldum was hypnotic with his dribbling. Of course, all the plaudits deservedly go to the front three. Their movement off the ball left Arsenal helpless from kick-off. Firmino, Mane and Salah all have 3 goals in 4 games now, as well as a number of assists. Keeping them fit is vital to Liverpool’s challenge this season. Hopefully the recruitment drive for this window isn’t finished yet either. The signs are there for an exciting season. Regardless of if we add more to the squad or not, this is a very good Liverpool side that will play some excellent football. Manchester City are our next opponents after the international break. It will be an interesting test for Jurgen and the boys, but one that we are all looking forward to.