By Daniel Moxon – @dmoxon_
It’s the highest-scoring fixture in Premier League history, and Arsenal’s latest trip to Anfield lived up to the billing with four goals scored as Liverpool won 3-1 on a pleasant Merseyside evening.
All the attention was on Roberto Firmino in the build-up – the Brazilian’s record against this opposition is excellent, with eight goals in as many games prior to this one.
But this would be the Mohamed Salah show, as the Egyptian scored twice to put the Gunners to the sword. His second-half brace came after Joel Matip had headed his team into the lead shortly before the break.
Unai Emery’s side struggled to cope with Jurgen Klopp’s rampant Reds, who played with style and confidence in the second half to record their third win from three in this new season. Lucas Torreira’s late goal was only a consolation prize for the Gunners.
Despite an energetic start to the game, there were few incidents of note in the first ten minutes. Liverpool saw lots of the ball but Arsenal were happy to sit back, weather the early storm and not take any unnecessary risks.
The first real incident of note came on the 11th minute, when Adrián’s botched clearance saw him stranded off his line with Aubameyang in possession. Luckily for the Spaniard, his lofted effort from 25 yards bounced narrowly wide of his unguarded net.
A defensive error at the other end saw Dani Ceballos’ botched clearance fall kindly for Sadio Mané, on the penalty spot, but by the time he was able to bring it under his control and get an effort away, the visitors had regrouped and Bernd Leno held on to his rather tame effort.
But for all of the home side’s possession, it was Arsenal – particularly Nicolas Pépé – who were causing all sorts of problems. The Ivorian was a constant outlet in the first half and he seemed happy to run at the defence at every opportunity.
Andy Robertson was visibly nervous up against him, as was the usually cool Virgil van Dijk. Pépé almost scored on two occasions in the first half by cutting inside onto his left foot. The first flew narrowly wide, while the second was repelled well by Adrián.
Liverpool did withstand that, though, and would take the lead five minutes before time through Joel Matip. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner to the far post was met by the Cameroonian, who directed the ball beyond Leno with a simple flick of his neck to sent the hosts into the break with a slender lead.
That margin would double just three minutes after the restart. David Luiz gave away a needless penalty by pulling Salah’s shirt in the box. The Egyptian stepped up to take the resulting spot kick and confidently smashed the ball into the top corner.
Liverpool now had confidence and swagger, and were showing it in their play. Silky-smooth in possession, the home side continued to dominate the game – much to the approval of the jubilant Anfield crowd.
The third was inevitable, and it came before an hour had been played. A devastating counter-attack saw Fabinho’s searching ball down the left find Salah, who left David Luiz for dead and showed tremendous composure to take his time, pick his spot and stroke the ball beyond Leno into the far bottom corner.
There were few incidents of note in the rest of the match, as Liverpool looked content with a comfortable margin of victory. Substitute Lucas Torreira got a goal back for the Gunners after Liverpool failed to clear their lines, but it was little more than a consolation prize.
Attention will turn now to their short trip to Sean Dyche’s Burnley, where they will look to extend their flawless start to the new campaign.