Liverpool swept aside the Gunners at a raucous Anfield as Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah and Takumi Minamino all found the net in an emphatic four goal victory
Liverpool thumped Arsenal at Anfield as the Reds got back to winning ways in the Premier League.
After dropping points to Brighton and at West Ham before the international break, Jurgen Klopp’s side eventually took apart a Gunners outfit who fell behind to Sadio Mane’s first half header.
Only some fine stops from Aaron Ramsdale prevented more Reds goals in the first half, but there was nothing he could do about a Nuno Tavares error which allowed Diogo Jota in for the second at the start of the second half.
Mohamed Salah and substitute Takumi Minamino – with his first touch – added further goals as the Reds ran riot.
Here are the game’s talking points.
1. Liverpool come up big when needed
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It was only being whispered quietly around Anfield before the match, but this was probably Liverpool’s biggest Premier League game of the season so far.
Chelsea’s impressive win at Leicester earlier in the day had put the Blues six points clear at the top, and seven ahead of Liverpool, and the Reds really couldn’t afford for that gap to grow.
Arsenal’s form coming into the game made things trickier too, but after the Gunners stood up to Liverpool to begin with it was the Reds who ultimately moved several gears ahead of them.
They were superb at times, especially in the second half.
2. Thiago keeps things ticking
Right from the start it was clear to see that Liverpool were going to look to get Thiago Alcantara on the ball as often as they could, and with good reason.
Making only his third start of the season and first for two months, the Spanish international saw himself rather spuriously linked with a move back to former club Barcelona during an international break he wasn’t involved in for his country, but it is clear to see why Liverpool will want to keep him around when fit.
His passing may not always be forwards, but it is forward-thinking, as one clever first-half ball for Fabinho showed with the Reds instantly put on the front foot.
Most of their worthy attacks in the first period involved Thiago in some sense, and if he can stay fit he’s going to be a key player over the next few weeks.
3. Aaron Ramsdale signified the new Arsenal… for a bit
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It wasn’t just with his excellent saves that Ramsdale infuriated Liverpool’s supporters in the first half.
The newly capped England goalkeeper was taking his time whenever he had the ball too, but of course he was entirely within his rights to do just that.
If anything it showed how Arsenal have a capacity to mature since their previous visits to Anfield, when they were often overrun from the start.
It got exposed in the end, but there is a backbone of the side now, ironically built up through young players, and it was actually the actions of the Gunners manager which gave Liverpool a leg up at a point where they might have struggled to find one such was their surprise at the maturing Arsenal they were faced with.
4. Mikel Arteta loses his cool
Whatever it was he saw in Mane’s challenge on Takehiro Tomiyasu it clearly incensed Mikel Arteta, who was quick to turn and bellow at the Liverpool bench – seemingly initially at Reds staff and then at Klopp, with both eventually booked.
The moment came at a time when the match was bubbling up nicely by itself, but it just seemed that the Spaniard’s actions injected that extra zip and energy into Liverpool’s performance at a time when, as detailed above, Arsenal had frustrated them.
That sudden increase in intensity from Liverpool continued into the second half too – perhaps off the back of an impassioned team talk from Klopp, who ran down the touchline at the break ready to speak to his troops.
The Reds emerged for the second half with the bit between their teeth, and although Jota’s goal came from a mistake from Tavares, it was coming as they pressed with peak intensity.
5. Diogo Jota can have a big say in the title race
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When that goal arrived it was pretty special too.
With rookie left-back Tavares perhaps experiencing one game too far in his recent run, the decision to pass to his fellow Portuguese at the Kop was one he won’t forget in a hurry.
Jota still had to finish it though.
The former Wolves man does sometimes face questions about his role in the Reds side if he isn’t scoring – he’s no Roberto Firmino, but few are – but he is a clinical finisher and a player who hugely enhances Klopp’s squad.
His goal came at a big time here – a habit he has grown accustomed to.